2/9/10 Update: The beer is now available in stores! (and is NOT considered an Imperial Stout by the brewers)
(Kalamazoo, MI) – “The saying goes, ‘give the customer what they want.'” Founder, Larry Bell, wrote that message earlier this month on Beer Advocate. Bell’s Brewery‘s latest packaging is 8996, meaning that 9000 ‘could be’ right around the corner. What will this year’s recipe be? Says Bell, “Remember 7000? Well that was kind of weak, so we are trumping up that recipe to make something bold. You want something for the cellar? You got it.”
And if you love a beer with a storyline, this one’s got ’em.
The irony here is that Batch 7000, an Imperial Stout released 3.5 years ago, was the pinnacle of the series, according to beer reviews. It scored an impressive 4.35 average with over 250 reviews on BA and a 4.14 average w/ nearly 500 reviews on RateBeer making it #1 in the series on both sites. Those scores would put in the top 50 on BA and top 100 on RB today were it still in “active” status. Combined with the fact that the beer was 12% ABV, how much bigger and badder can this recipe get? Regardless, beer enthusiasts have got to be pretty excited to see the 7000 recipe return in any shape or form.
While the brewery attempted to go after a unique style, 2006’s Batch 8000 release didn’t fare as well with beer raters. The scores on what many considered to be an Imperial Witbier (or Belgian Strong Ale) were the lowest in the series so far. Between that and the length of time between 8000 and 9000 (going on 20 months), this beer should easily fall in the top 10 ‘buzzed about’ releases of the year.
Historically, the batch date announcement on the site has soon been followed by the release of the beer. 7000 came out less than a month after it was announced and 8000 . . . one week. If this beer does come out in March, it just adds to what is already a busy month for Bell’s as it is.
For one, Brewmaster, John Mallet is traveling to Belgium this month to brew the next De Proef Signature Series beer.
Bell’s is also brewing up its best seller ten-fold this month as the announced release date for Bell’s Oberon is March 30th. For context, Kalamabrew reported last year (video included) that Oberon makes up over half of the brewery’s sales. It makes sense that they want to clear any extra space they have for Oberon.
Finally, the brewery is in the midst of another heated distributor battle. This time, it involves two distributors in the Lansing area. Bell’s Beer is still flowing into the area though the situation is very much still in the air.
Competition with Founders?
Bell’s Hopslam is THE release that people are talking about in Michigan (and all over) in January. But this year, Founders Brewing came out with not only a seasonal of its own, but a Double IPA, no less, named Double Trouble. So here we arrive to March, a month that is typically dominated by talk about Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout and it is looking like Bell’s will be dropping Batch 9000 at the same time. A hefty ‘backatcha’ wouldn’t you say? I doubt that the breweries dislike each other though the timing is fascinating on both sides. And to Founders’ credit, they barely made a peep about Double Trouble before it hit shelves. It was even impossible to find a pic online until weeks after its release. Can locals chime in? Have these breweries collaborated on a beer? [ed: Not stirring the pot! Just curious…]
With the Michigan Winter Beer Fest taking place this weekend, the worst of winter is probably behind those in Michigan (economy stuff notwithstanding). Beer fans in the state have a lot to look forward to in March.