Bell’s Batch 9000 full of storylines


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 Comeback

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.

The Rebound

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.

Hectic timing

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.

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20 thoughts on “Bell’s Batch 9000 full of storylines

  1. Anyone know what the distribution for this will be or past batch x,000’s distribution or quantity?

  2. Very interesting read my friend. I’m a huge fan of Bell’s Expedition so I’m excited to see what this Impy Stout has to offer.

    I think Hopslam beats Double Trouble hands down. I’ve never personally had a Kentucky Breakfast (I’ve never been able to find any). Nonetheless Founder’s traditional Breakfast Stout is awesome in it’s aroma, flavor, body and complexity. If Bell’s can match it, I’ll happily pay the $15 a sixer they will probably charge for batch 9000. 😉

  3. Pingback: Beer notes: Larry Bell’s fight and Batch 9000, Portsmouth Kate, and more |

  4. I just tried batch 9,000. I’m a huge fan of dark beers, stouts in particular. This beer was very unique, somewhat a cross between a sticky stout & a dessert wine…if that makes any sense. It’s not my favorite beer in the world, but it did grow on me after getting over the initial tastebud confusion.

  5. I’m really jealous, Meg! Sounds like this was a very experimental beer and the reason that it took extra long to finish. I’m still looking for the perfect stout that contains some subtle but noticeable fruit character.

  6. I didn’t know what exactly what it was until I saw it. I’ve always wanted to try Short’s beer that is made with Licorice(a lager though, I believe). I was excited and bought 2 of these.. one to age and one for now(I’ll probably buy 2-6 more for aging in between, though). I thought this beer seriously tasted like Vodka. More specifically, Burnett’s or Svedka. Like not chocolate/coffee vodka.. just vodka. I sure hope it gets better. And I sure hope Bell’s has future telling capabilities, because they sure didn’t hide any boozy flavors!

  7. Sounds like they really went off the deep end with the experimentation on this one. Not a bad thing to do from time to time when you’ve earned the respect to do so like Bell’s has. Kind of like the Beatles veering off of that safe pop path but not exactly. Bell’s did something really unique here. I’d probably buy a sixer and stow it away for a few years.

  8. Just picked up a 6 of 9000. 12.5%. Goes down easy. I don’t think I’ll be keeping any of this in the cellar. Stock up, it’s going to go!

  9. My Work Just Got a Keg of it in Tavern 25, 2528 Union Lake Road, Commerce Township, MI 48382. And Its Great.

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  11. Pingback: Bell’s Batch 9000 Is Now Available in St. Louis | STL Hops - A St. Louis Beer Blog

  12. just tried the 9000 batch at quenchers in chicago/logan square, and holy crap it’s amazing. so dark. definitely strong. apparently quenchers has one of three barrels in the entire city. plus they serve it in a snifter…fancy! go there immediately!

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  14. Had it tonight on Draft at work J Clyde , and MegluvsStouts is right about the flavor components . I feel if this brew had the chance to sit and rest for sometime it would be better. for now it was to much and just taste like a sugary mess. I didn’t notice the anise seed like i thought i would . I think a couple of years in the cellar and it would a whole other beast. I will say i had a Black heffy tonight that was crazy good. and in 2012 i will have a very nice B.9000

  15. I really like the Batch 9000, but it will be gone soon… does anyone know of beers that are similar to this one that are always available?

    Thank you!

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