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Bell’s Batch 9000
Written by Michael
As I’ve noted before, the world of beer intrigues me. Not just the breweries, the beers, the styles and the brew pubs, but the people, the beer-friends that you make on your journey through brewdom. Well, yet again, I was pleasantly surprised. My beer store of choice is Binny’s, a large, but Chicago-only, chain of stores with an incredible variety of all your favorite alcoholic beverages. I still have the look of wonder that spread across my face the first time I laid eyes on the beautiful wall of beer. After several visits, I have come to know the store’s beer connoisseur a bit. He has spot-on recommendations and an incredible depth of beer knowledge.
Friday’s stop was an intentional one for me. Winter, the perfect time for a stout, seemed to be quickly coming to a close. So Rogue’s Shakespeare was on my list and I bee-lined for its spot on the shelf. When my newly-made beer friend saw me reaching for the Rogue, he suggested another stout, a newly released limited brew by Bell’s. “Batch 9000, he said, now that is some stout!”
I quickly accepted his generous offer to sell me a couple, waited for him to grab them from the back, and headed out. I stuck one in my fridge and one in my ‘cellar’ and hoped the weekend would reveal the perfect moment to partake. After several grueling hours constructing six kitchen chairs (a story much too long and painful for this review) I decided I had darn well earned that Batch 9000 and I sat down to sip.
It seemed to pour black at first, but in better light became an incredibly deep, rich brown. The head puffed and quickly dwindled to a thin layer. The smell was a rush. Bursts of cherries and hints of black licorice. A sweetness of brown sugar and a peculiar, but unmistakable, whiff of soy sauce. It smelled rich and sweet and I began to think I was in for a real treat. Even before sampling, however, it felt as though Bell’s claim of “Imperial Stout” was a bit misleading. I had smelled Quads a bit like this, but no stout! Some other reviewers said it seemed more like an Old Ale. My first sip was…well let me quote from my note-taking sheet: “Woh.” It was unbelievably sweet, as the Binny’s beerman had warned, and to me, almost stingingly alcoholic. Next was a veritable fruit salad, deep dark fruits it seemed, but again overwhelmingly sweet.
As I’ve confessed in the past, I claim to enjoy things that I ‘should’ even though they clearly disagree with my palate. Batch 9000 was just that, but was too tough to continue much past half a glass. There were hints of malt, just enough to remind me that it was indeed beer I was drinking and if the alcohol and sweetness mellowed out a bit, I think the complexities would be interesting and enjoyable. For me, however, I just couldn’t take it. Hopefully a year or two will mellow the cellared bottle and I’ll be able to bump up the grade the next go-round.
Grade: C-Bell's Batch 9000,