Saturday, December 11, 2010

Beer Review; Bell's Batch 10,000

Thursday, Seven Saints became the first bar in Champaign Urbana to tap Bell's Batch 10,000. There are other places that will be getting it (Crane Alley and probably the Blind Pig) but they weren't the first.

At Seven Saints the beer is $6 for a snifter. That's not a cheap beer. It presents as an opaque black beer with a slight light brown head. The problem with a beer being served in a snifter is that the snifter really isn't a good glass for presenting beer. Sure, the bar is giving you the right amount of liquid, however, the snifter isn't really good for sniffing. Aromas need a place to collect and build. A filled snifter doesn't provide that. To overcome this, I asked for a rocks glass with just a splash of the beer in it. This gave me a much easier way to smell the beer.

It smells almost minty. There was a definite malt aroma to it as well, but it wasn't a very specific malt. Why?

The last of a series, Batch 10,000 Ale looks back to our roots, symbolizing the end of the home-brewing season with a creative take on "cleaning out the brewing supplies closet". After combing through the catalogs of many malt and hop suppliers, our brewers used over 100 different malts, grains, and other fermentables, and followed them up with a blend of 60 different hop varietals between the kettle additions 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. Sharply bitter, the beer possesses a full mouthfeel without being heavy and will withstand aging in your cellar, if you prefer.
They used 100 fermentables to make this beast. What is a fermentable? It's anything that can turn into alcohol. Normally in a beer, that comes from malt; and normally in a beer, there is pretty much only one malt used (He'brew Jewbelations use specific malts and a specific number of malts, like 8 malts in 8 up to 14 in 14). This beer had 100. But it probably isn't just 100 malt varieties. No, a fermentable is anything that provides sugar. That could be sugar itself, honey, fruits, candy. Heck, they could have thrown in a box of chocolate.

Ok, back to the smell, I did pick up a chocolate aroma. It almost had a brownie character to it. Later, as it warmed, there was some grape in the nose. It felt thick, but also effervescent. If you leave it sit on the tongue long enough it will totally dissolve.

It tasted of dark fruits; raisins, figs, plums, maybe even a sugary prune. It also tasted a bit of syrup, without being syrupy. As it continues to warm, the bitterness is present. It's not a horrible bitter, but it's there. That obviously comes from the use of 60 hops in the kettle and in dry hopping. That's a lot of hops. It does provide a bit of bitter. It's not a specific pine or citrus bitter, it's just bitter.

The beer comes in at 9.2% but the alcohol isn't that overpowering. Although the aromas aren't initially present in the snifter, it's the correct serving size. I didn't need much more than that. It was a great beer. Will I have it again. Heck yeah, I'm thinking about going back as soon as I finish typing this up to have another.

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