Bell’s batch series went out with a bang when Batch 10,000 was released in 2010. But how is it holding up to seven years in the cellar?
Bell’s certainly ended its Batch series with a bang back in late 2010 with Batch 10,000. The beer, clocking in two ticks over nine percent ABV, boasts 100 different malts, grains, and other fermentables and a blend of 60 different hop varietals. It’s the kitchen sink of specialty release beers.
Following its release, I imagined the opening scene of Act IV out of Shakespeare’s Macbeth played out on the production room floor at Bell’s, as Larry Bell and his brewers were adding ingredients. The witch’s chants of, “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble,” in Macbeth were matched by Larry Bell’s chants of “Double, double perle and fuggle; Fire burn, and wort bubble.”
Over the years Batch 10,000 has ebbed and flowed from a hot, aggressive mess to an enjoyable sipper and intermediate points in between. Here’s a quick recap:
“The first sip reveals a super-charged, high-octane beer that closely resembles a black barleywine. You’re first hit with floral hops followed by dried raisins, burnt coffee and a hint of smoke leading in to a citrus-y and dry finish.”
“[W]hen I said “you guys are going to think I’m crazy, but I smell fireworks,” I expected looks of disbelief, but I got…agreement. Yes, sulfur and smoke come pouring off the nose, followed up by red grape flavors (almost like a Cabernet Sauvignon).”
“On the palate there are all sorts of things happening, and all of them are good: a pleasant blend of spearmint and black licorice starts things off followed by molasses and alternating tea and cola-like flavors similar to sweet tea and Dr. Pepper, depending on the sip.”
“Muddled mint leaves first grabbed my attention followed by bakers chocolate that dries out into an unsweetened tea finish. Allow the beer to warm some and you’ll encourage aromas of apple butter atop burnt toast to emerge and flavors of spearmint gum mid-sip and creamy espresso and milk chocolate in the finish.”
“Surprisingly sharp carbonation follows the standard Bell’s aroma awakening the taste buds for heavy doses of dark chocolate with a Doublemint gum finish. Black licorice slips in about mid sip.”
“The carbonation serves as a pace car for the likes of chocolate bark, black licorice and spearmint gum. The finish is a sweet and refreshing spoonful of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Let this one warm a tad and the mint leap-frogs the chocolate to take center stage. It lingers through each sip and makes for a sweeter finish reminiscent of key lime pie yogurt.”
And here we are, staring down a seven-year-old bottle of Bell’s Batch 10,000. Clearly its mellowed over the years and perhaps its mellowed too much.
Sadly, oxidation was the centerpiece of this pour — and I don’t mean in a sherry-like flavor sort of way. Wet cardboard box and loose leaf paper aromas pushed past semi-sweet chocolate drawing an initial red flag. On the palate, Batch 10,000 was dry and sawdust-y with remnants of dark chocolate and stale Lifesavers. The beer perked up a bit when it warmed but not by much.
A seven-year pour of Batch 10,000 wasn’t necessarily bad, but it was a letdown from years’ past.
Maybe I just had bad luck with this particular bottle. Or, more realistically, this beer may have run its course. Although if that’s the case, it was one hell of a good run.