Batch 10,000 - Bell's Brewery, Kalamazoo
One of my favorite beers of 2010 was Bell's Batch 9000. It was a beer that tasted like nothing I'd had before. It was extremely rich, sweet and strong. I only had one six pack of the Batch 9000 and those bottles didn't last very long between sharing and my own gluttony, so it seemed like the 9,000 was gone before I got to fully appreciate it. I wanted more, but there simply wasn't any... Here we are, 8 months later, and Bell's final batch series beer is out on shelves. I jumped at the chance to get two six packs of the Batch 10,000 before it too was gone forever.
I didn't need to hear much about this beer to get me excited. I enjoyed the Batch 9,000 that much. What I did know was that the Batch 9,000 was brewed with 100 different malts, grains and other fermentables. Say no more, I'm sold. I got home with my 12 bottles of Batch 10,000 and threw a couple in the fridge. An hour or two later I eagerly opened one up and poured it into my Bell's tulip glass. The 10,000 looks a lot like the 9,000, it has a dark body that isn't quite black but more of a deep brownish purple. There's a good deal of lacing left behind by this beer's light tan colored head.
The first surprise of this beer came when I got in close to check out the aroma. It seemed, at first, as if there was no aroma. Batch 10,000 has a subtle and unique aroma of sour esters and hops. I was hoping for a big boisterous aroma considering the amount of raw materials that went into this beer. Perhaps there's a threshold where too many fermentables means your aroma suffers... either way, this beer smells less than impressive.
My first sip of the Batch 10,000 nearly made me dump the whole glass down the drain. I let this beer warm up to about 60 degrees before I tried it and it was still too cold to appreciate. This beer tasted like a bitter 9% brown ale before it warmed up. It was completely underwhelming and just not any good. Thankfully, as the beer warmed up the complex malt flavors came forward. The bitter hops stuck around and kept this beer on the wrong side of the enjoyable line for me.
The more this beer warmed up, the more it grew on me. The bitterness of the hops in this beer are still it's downfall and for all the complexity the Batch 10,000 has, I still prefer the combination of flavors that were in Batch 9,000.