For years now, Bell's Brewery of Kalamazoo has marked every 1,000th batch they brew with special, never-to-be-repeated beers in what's become known as the "Batch" Series. Each beer, labeled simply as "Bell's Batch 5,000," "6,000," etc., has become highly sought after, and is often bought in quantity by beer lovers for cellaring. At first, the Batch beers would come two years apart; but as Bell's has expanded capacity to turn more batches in less time, founder Larry Bell had made the decision to retire the Batch series with Batch 10,000. And that beer is now headed to shelves and taps.
On Bell's web site's news blog, this message was posted Tuesday, Nov. 16:
The last in our Batch series is being packaged today and tomorrow. While we are excited to free up some brewing space for other creative projects, the end of the Batch series marks a major milestone for us, and is a little bittersweet being the end of an era. Batch 10,000 reflects our homebrewing roots and was inspired by the the last homebrew of the season. Our owner Larry Bell remembers going through his brewing supplies and making the last homebrew out of whatever malts and hops were left from his brewing months. With this being the motivation behind our last commemorative batch series beer, we combed through the catalogs of many malt and hop suppliers to source 100 different malts, grains, and other fermentables. This is balanced by the addition of 60 different hop varietals between the kettle and dry hopping. The resulting beer presents a deep, chocolate brown hue and offers roasted and caramel notes from the malts mixed with an assertive hop character. Feel free to drink it fresh, or vintage age it as you please.
We lift our glass in appreciation to Bell's drinkers who have helped us reach this moment in our brewery's history. Cheers to you!
One hundred malts and 60 hops? If they're in close to equal proportions, that a style-buster. RateBeer.com has listed it under the catchall category of "American Strong Ale," with 9.2% alcohol by volume. Kind of reminds me of the "suicide slush" flavored Mr. Mistys we'd get at Dairy Queen as kids.
Bell's Batch beers have traditionally been sold in 12 oz. six packs, with draft kegs appearing at some Chicago area bars. Current reports on Batch 10,000 only suggest the first shipments are headed to Indiana. I checked today (Wednesday) at my usual beer store, a suburban Binny's, where the manager told me it was not scheduled to come in this week.
I will be watching for availability of this beer in stores and on tap, and I will provide an updated list in the space below. Be sure to check back again soon!
UPDATE, Dec. 13: Barley and Hops, 18452 S. Halsted St., Glenwood, IL, has bottles in as of today, and is selling at $16.99 per six-pack, one sixer to a customer. BeerMenus reports the following bars as of December 13:
- Brixie's Beer Bar & Grill, 9526 W. Ogden Ave., Brookfield, IL (708) 387-0050
- Geneva Ale House, 319 W. State St., Geneva, IL (630) 262-3877
- Quenchers Saloon, 2401 N. Western Ave., Chicago (773) 276-9730
- Kasey's Tavern, 701 S. Dearborn St., Chicago (312) 427-7992
- Lunar Brewing Co., 54 E. St Charles Rd., Villa Park, IL (630) 530-2077
- Rocking Horse, 2535 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago (773) 486-0011
I was able to get my fix at Brixie's Friday and will have a review later. As always, call ahead to any of these establishments as quantities are extremely limited.
UPDATE, Dec. 8: The Binny's near me finally got their allotment in. Purchases were limited to two bottles per person. But then, they were selling at just $3 per 12 oz. bottle. So I got my two.
UPDATE, Dec. 6: Tribes Alehouse in Mokena reports to their Facebook page that they have received a keg of 10,000. They will be tapping it Wednesday, January 5, 2011, at 6:00 p.m. Tribes is at 11220 W. Lincoln Hwy, Mokena, IL (815) 464-0248
UPDATE, Nov. 25: The blog for Binny's Beverage Depot has announced that Batch 10,000 will start hitting stores "by the middle of next week." They note that a few of the outlying stores may get it later, that quantities are limited, so check with your local outlet.
Any other stores planning to carry this brew are welcome to send me a further update. I hope to hear soon of tap locations!