Bell's Batch 5000 | Bell's Brewery, Inc.

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Bell's Batch 5000Bell's Batch 5000

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by truthbrew on 02-23-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 50 | Ratings: 66
Photo of GreenWBush
2.88/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

This one came to me upon rough recommendations - when I ordered it at my local, the pubkeep actually asked me if I was sure. Scary. I figured "no problem, i've been loving the hell out of the Batch 6000". My taste-buds haven't opened up to this style yet, but I figured i'd give it a fair try.

This one poured out a thick sludgy-black. There was no head to speak of, and I had to swirl and coax out enough head to even gauge its color. Once I was able to persuade it, the head was a darkish brown hue. It would go on to leave a nice lace, however.

The nose on this beer was a shocker. You first are warned by notes of alcohol and sweet-malt concealers. After that, its all smoke. Time to dive in.

This is one of those beers that macro drinkers would believe is a practical joke. Not only are the malt, hop, and alcohol tones on 11, you are instantly smacked in the face with smoke. All I could imagine was someone blowing smoke directly in the face while I was drinking. This one reminded me of my first experience with a high ABV beer - I winced on the uptake and gagged on the aftertaste.

I appreciate the attempt with this one - hugeness all around. But the smoke consistency is just too much for me. I thought i'd like it after at least appreciating Rogue's Smoke ale. I just couldn't finish it. I'll have to blame this one's low rating on my inexperience with the style, but I can't avoid the fact that I simply didn't like it.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.32/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Presentation: 12 ouncer, long neck brown bottle. The main label is off-white with the word Bell’s atop a small metallic purple rectangle that has 3 bells pictured in it. Below a large blue bordered rectangle simply says Batch 5,000 Ale, which has the words Commemoratative Brew, beneath. No freshness date or strength listed, but there is a hand-written “1-02” in the top right hand corner of the obverse label.

Appearance: Deep chestnut color, little, if any head at first. When swirled a semblance of a thin beige collar like head forms, but soon disappears. When topped up a more passable head forms, but again, only for a short time. Looks fine, but the lack of a head detracts overall.

Nose: I was a bit worried at first, for the nose from this beer was immediately pervasive in my Apartment as soon as I opened the bottle. It had a kind of sweaty smell, an “off” aroma. But on closer examination it was a sour-smoky smell that sometimes disgusted, other times intrigued. When I concentrated on the smoky aspects it wasn’t that bad.

Taste: I used to love Walker’s Smoky-Bacon flavored Crisps (Chips!) in the UK, and this offering from Bell’s has a similar character. It reminded me very much of a Rauch-bier in style, but with added “oomph”, kind of a High Speed Turbo version of the Germanic classic. Begins with a slightly sweet malt entrance, which develops into smoky bacon, with a woody ember like ending. The finish is warming. Difficult at first, but this beer sort of grew on me after a tough start. Still, this is very much an acquired taste I feel.

Mouthfeel: It’s solid, and warming. A beer that masks its 9%ABV well, but nevertheless it has a high octane ending that kicks ass.

Drinkability: I am afraid it gains some low marks here, I struggled towards the end of this 12 ounce bottle. The smoky-bacon aspect became a little over-powering for me to finish this off with anything other than a sedate sip. An acquired taste for sure. Maybe I'm being too hard here.

Overall: Very different, a smoky-bacon beer, LOL. I found this so hard and extremely difficult to Mark and Review. Variety is the spice of life.

Thanks to top BA, BigHuge, for the tough challenge & giving me the chance to try this alternate offering.

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.47/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle. Very cloudy, mahogany in color. A bit of sediment floating around in the glass. Thin tan head disappears immediately.

Big smoke, and toffee in the aroma. A bit woody, and nutty. Perhaps of bit of oxidation. Seems to be a lot going on.

Sweet, fruity and smoky. Rich toffee. Boy, there is a good amount of sweetness and smoke. Still pretty warming.

This was hard to drink much of. Not sure if it is past prime or what.

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Photo of mcallister
3.53/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Murky mahagony pour. Dull and cloudy. Completely opaque. Not much of any head except for some tan specks and a ring around the glass.

Nose is smokey very rauchbier esqe. Smoked meats, nutty aromas with red cherry. Really can't get over the amount of smoke. Some oxidation is obvious. Roasty toffee malt, caramel and prune. Oxidation vails everything somewhat.

Very smokey and meaty. Mouth is a little thin and there is noticeable alcohol on the finish that you can feel evaporate on your tongue. Sharp flavors, musty and earthy. Definitely drink this one now or a couple of years ago. Oxidation still present but not really in the way. Long finish. Cherry, brown sugar, maple, rum soaked figs, raisin, nuts, and burnt wood. Sherryesque with the oxidiztion factor.

A beer worth drinking although more than one may be tough to swallow.

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Photo of aracauna
3.59/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Really flat pour. Really rough pouring left a thin, ephemeral head. Big rich malty aroma wafts up as you pour though and is quite nice in its richness. The taste is mostly caramel, with some chocolate. There's a mild fruitiness, some really, really faint coffee, present but not too strong smokiness. Mouthfeel was thick. Nice big flavor but perhaps a little too thick, rich and sweet to be easily drinkable. Has plenty of complexity, but it's just the overly sweet nature that makes it a bit unpleasant.

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Photo of mentor
3.6/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Presented a dark brown (like a porter) in a 16 oz plastic glass with a small ring of dirty head. On-tap at the Eccentric cafe in December, 2004. Smelled of smoke, obviously, but within the smoke I could pick out distinct woody and acidic smells. Malt sweet and alcohol, but I'm not finding hops. Tasted smoke, then thick malt sweet and, oddly, the smoke comes back in a refined form. The early smoke seemed more cinder and the later more peaty. I had a hard time picking out fruity flavors, as the smoke just kept rolling around. Sometimes acidic other times woody. Quite interesting. The tail end of each swallow held a fine alcohol bite in the back of the throat. Thick mouthfeel, appropriate for the style. Not a drinkable beer. After half the glass, I was wishing I had ordered the 12 oz glass rather than the 16 oz.

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Photo of badbeer
3.62/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark copper color with a quickly dissipating head. Smell is very smoky, with just a little sweetness below, smoke is completely dominant. Thick and smoky on the tongue, almost like some smoked ham; couldn't have too much of this, even though it was pretty good. Full bodied and light on the carbonation. As I already said, it was decent, but I couldn't have too much of this. Thanks to hey_kevin for sharing.

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Photo of beerguy101
3.64/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown, muddy color. Smallish head. Aroma is smoky and woody. Big smoked flavored ale. Malts are surprisingly sweet, nutty and woody. The hops are really masked by the smokiness but they are fairly mild and piney(?) It's hard to tell. It nicely smoked and malty and hides the 9% alcohol very well. It aggressively smoked, with being over the top about it. This is NOT a beer for everyone, but it is a must try for smoked beer fans. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth, Aftertaste is slightly bitter.

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Photo of aaronh
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A hazy reddish -brown beer that pours with a thin, slow-forming but dense head. The head gradually fades to a thin layer of tan foam and leaves a nice lace on the glass. The aroma is smoky tobacco and molasses. It really reminds me of some of the smokeless tobacco I used to use. Very weird aroma to say the least. The taste, wow, *cough*, this is powerful stuff. A very strong tobacco note, with a sweet, smoky thickness that singes my throat. I really did not know what to expect from this beer. Whatever my previous thoughts were, this is not it. I am caught so off gaurd by this beer. The alcohol is very noticeable. Taking MUCH smaller sips, some nice nutty chocolate notes shine through, with the smokiness still accenting everything. This beer has smoked tobacco, burnt wood, smoked plums, smoked nuts, and I think some smoked smoke in it. Even with all the smoke, there is still a powerful sweetness. The mouthfeel is very thick and almost syrupy. It sticks to the tongue a gradually oozes down the throat, leaving a trail of smoked sugar and a touch of bitterness lingering behind. This powerful, surprising beer is a wonderful treat and a change of pace. It like a campfire and smores rolled into a beer. However, I wouldn't want too many of them. Thanks to cretemixer for supplying this one of a kind brew.

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Photo of BelgianAleSlut
3.83/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my new Kuhnhenn bierthday club gift pint glass. Thanks Kuhnhenn! Cloudy caramel pour that appears flat. Like the looks of the beer, but the flatness scares me. Appears bottle conditioned.

Smells of carmelized malt sugar with hints of hardwood smoke. Tastes very sweet, with a light fruitiness and smoke essence. Smokiness is not heavy and is about the maximum smoke I can handle in a beer. Definitely works with this one.

The problem: this beer seems dead on the palate. About the same pleasure as drinking sugar water that has been left near a campfire.

Drinkability is o.k. as alcohol warms early on and it will satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth. Might have been better if I had started with a lighter beer first.

Worth a taste.

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Photo of Rastacouere
3.89/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Medium brown. Off-white head. Very old-ale ish aroma, but how salty, meaty, alcoholic.. ham-like, but very sweet malt at the same time. Very surprising flavors, they work kind of well together. It’s very sweet. On the tongue, this has the same malty sweetness than an old ale, similar light earthiness, maple and toffee notes, but the difference come from the smoke of course. It’s the kind of beer that is a meal by itself, very meaty. Alcoholic finish. High carbonation, big creamy mouthfeel. Love it or hate it kind I guess, but it seems a bit underrated. Not many brewers could manage to come up with a beer like this. Cheers CaptainCougar!

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Photo of PhantomVodoo
3.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly hazy reddish brown. Looks thick and heavy. Not much head to speak of. Good amount of sediment remains in bottom of bottle leaving me to think maybe I should have swirled before finishing the pour. Smoked sausage and malt aroma. Sweet malt flavor up front that is quickly overpowered by smoke and alcohol. I had no idea what the alcohol content of this beer was before trying it, but it became quickly evident that it was a bit higher than most beers. The alcohol lingered a little too much on the finish for my liking. This is definitely a sipper. Took me a good hour to finish the beer and it seemed to mellow a little as it warmed. Probably due to the malt sweetness showing more. I enjoyed the 2nd half of the beer much more than the first. Creamy to syrupy mouthfeel. Drinkability suffered in my book due to the lingering alcohol. Label is kind of neat. Basic plain label with a pinkish kaliedescope looking rectangle at the top. Overall, a very interesting and good beer.

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Photo of jcalabre
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Originally sampled on 7 November 2002. Break out the bratwurst, knockwurst, sausages and whatever deli meats you can find, because this beer is meant for them. The smokey flavors of this beauty will pair wonderfully w/ your deli favorites. I wish I could get it locally.

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Photo of EvilKeith
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cellared for two years and provided by the good people of BoneDry.

Pours a murky, deep, rich caramel color with suspended particles of yeast. Topped with one finger of frothy camel colored head. Lacing starts sticky, fades after a bit.

Smell is sweet. Chocolate, dark fruit with traces of hickory smoke and alcohol.

Taste is very similar to the smell. Like a smoky chocolate milkshake. Alcohol warms as it goes down.

Full bodied. Thick, almost syrupy mouthfeel.

I enjoyed the complexity of this beer. It is quite a bit too heavy to be sessionable. This would work well as a nightcap when I'm in the mood for something sweet.

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Photo of JLeege
4.04/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled: Jan 2002
Consumed: Feb 2011
Poured into a snifter.

Appearance- Pours a murky deep amber to brown color with a tiny short lived tan "head"; more like a slight ring around the surface.

Smell- Has a strong smoked aroma, very meaty. Jerky, caramel, woody, bbq sauce. I gotta say, the aroma is excellent and inviting. On par with the top smoked/rauchbeirs.

Taste- Starts out sweet, with notes of caramel, molasses, bbq sauce. Leading into strong smoked flavors, lots of jerky and bacon, even a bit salty. Doesn't quite have the "char" of a smoked beer, but the rest of the elements are still there. Lingering jerky flavors, this is a meal in a glass.

Mouthfeel- Fairly slick, fuller body, little to no carbonation, an alcohol warming of the cheeks.

Overall- An awesome dude got me this awesome beer. I wonder what this was like fresh, but with this much age on it, it has held up well, and is a very cool experience.

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Photo of marburg
4.05/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Drinking this beer is a like smoking a hookah loaded with prune-flavored tobacco. No joke.

If you've ever smoked from a hookah (tobacco, not marijuana!), you know that you lose all the harsh craziness of cigarette smoke. I've never been a smoker, but the second-hand is enough to make sure it stays that way. Blech.

But hookah smoking is very smooth and very easy -- and is often done with flavored tobaccos. You get a definite buzz, a definite tobacco flavor, a definite smoke flavor, and a definite fruit -- whichever fruit flavor you put in the tobacco.

And this beer is so much like that. Smoky and fruity aroma with a pork-like bacon taste -- very German rauchbier in style -- with a vinous fruit taste underneath. Quite odd, really. But fun to contemplate as it rolls around on the tongue.

Honestly, I can't drink this whole thing in any sort of short sitting. This is definitely a long sippin' brew. But it's worth the sips. Cloudy, pure, unique, lingering, inspired, fun, and drinkable. Not something I'd likely drink a lot, but it has its place.

Many thanks to sakaroo for supplying my bottle!!!

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Photo of hoppymeal
4.05/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cola colored brown with a light tan head that recedes to a ring. Aroma is big time leather, moreso than I've had in any other beer. There is also some smokiness going on and in the background there is a rich sugary raisin scent. Taste follows the smell with a big leatheru flavor, there is more smokiness and a cola like sweetness and mouthfeel. The beer is nice and creamy maltiness in the front with a low level of tingly effervescent carbonation and finishing with the leather and some woody notes witha good size dryness. The strong leather like flavor and aroma was overpowering me on the first few sips, however as my palette numbs a little and it isn't as all powerful, this one is a nice sipper.

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Photo of cretemixer
4.07/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer looked quite a bit better than I was expecting after reading some of the other reviews. It is a murky auburn colored beer with a minimal off white head. The head fades to a thin collar after a few minutes. Aroma is smoky, sweet and malty. Astringent character on the nose too.

Definite smoky taste surrounds my tastebuds. I feel like I just took a whiff out of my smoker while cooking ribs. Taste is meaty too, either that or my senses are playing tricks on me. It's almost like I would imaging drinking a beer with a shot of worchestershire sauce in it would taste like.

Smooth & thick mouthfeel with minimal carbonation

Not very drinkable, but if we rated for originality, it would score high. I have had this beer cellared for almost a year now and I will revisit it again next year to see how it has matured.

BTW, my dog wouldn't leave me alone while I drank this one!

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Photo of hopdog
4.08/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle acquired in trade with EDA (thanks 12oz Mike!).

Poured a dark and cloudy brown color with an averaged sized tan head. Aromas of tobacco, wood, and peat. Tastes of smoke (not as strong as the aroma), molasses, caramel, toffee and some dark fruits. Sweeter tasting.

Notes from 6/11/05

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Photo of frank4sail
4.09/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well this is my 400th review at BeerAdvocate so I wanted to pick something interesting from the cellar and this brew is special. It was sent to me by inebrius well over a year ago and I think it is fitting I drink it for the milestone.. so thanks so much to Todd and cheers to the BA community.

Rich rounded ripe dark fruits and sweet malt in the nose with also a touch on liquid smoke. Light tan head on the pour dissapears very very fast. Murky brown/dark ruby color with tons of yeasty floaties. The taste is sweet upfront with prune and a touch of black cherry, then the brew smokes the tongue and finishes with a slight medicinal note. Very complex and it smooths around the edges as it warms in the goblet. Not the best lookin' beer you have ever seen in a goblet.. but a nice complex sipping beer. A real warming treat.. happy new year.. my opening beer for new years eve is a good one... cheers to 2004.

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Photo of northernbrews
4.1/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this as part of the tasting we had 9/22/07 of Batch 4000 - 8000.

Received this gem from tangfoot. Thanks again Fred.

Appearance: This pour a reddish brown with very little head. There is very little lacing on this, but it looks pretty good based on its age..

Aroma: Starts with some smokey and sweet malts. Kind of reminds me of breakfast sausage with maple syrup. In the background is some dark fruits. As this warms, there is a little sourness, which I enjoy.

Taste: There is mostly smokey notes in the beginning. When this warms, some of the sweet dark fruit flavors come to play. I wonder what this tasted like fresh.

Mouthfeel: The smokey and sweet malt flavors hang around for a while. This is kind of thin, which I expected due to its age.

Drinkability: This goes down pretty smooth, especially after it warms for a bit. I could drink a few of these, but I'm glad I'm getting to try any of this at all.

Overall: This is very unique and interesting beer. Can't think of any others I've had like it. I'm curious the age of this one too. This was my least favorite of the Batches 4000 - 8000, but its still pretty damn good and unique. If you see this or can try this, go for it, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Thanks again Fred for this rare bottle.

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Photo of sprinkle
4.12/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is HUGE!! This beer is done very well,smells like its straight out of Bamberg,Germany.Have noted some differences from bottle to bottle,some are even more smokey.Cheers to Bell Batch 5000,may there be many more to come!

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Photo of ZAP
4.12/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cloudy bronze, with a thin lace..HEAVY smoke smoked saugage...sweet tasting with minimal if any hopping...mild smokiness on the taste...smooth, and slick on the tounge...smokiness not overbearing although between the smell and the taste I think I need a bottle of steak sauce to go with this one..very interesting and a very solid smoked beer

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Photo of Jables
4.16/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled on Feb 9, 2004

Pours a murky brown with little to no carbonation.

Aroma is smoky but really faint

Flavor is slightly sweet and bready malts. Dry fruits are strong, dried apricots and dates, Oaky Smoky finish is tell tale of the style.

Smooth syrupy mouthfeel makes you slowly savor this one.

Drinkability is hampered only by the complexity of flavor and the warming the alcohol provides over time.

I could not believe that I walked into an average bar in the interest of eating and watching the Illinois vs. Michigan State game and saw this sitting on the bottom row on the cooler. Oh sweet providence!!! Not even a beer bar and they had Bell's Winter White on Tap!!!

Thanks to Mike at the Esquire in Champaign for letting me buy one to take home to my cellar!

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Photo of pbrian
4.17/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My first impulse after taking the first sip of a smoke beer is to spit it out. I just don't drink a lot of them, and the greasy, smoked-sausage-dropped-in-a-campfire flavors always throw me for a loop. Batch 5000 counters those unexpected flavors with an ample amount of caramel malt and luscious mouthfeel to make an extremely complex and enjoyable brew. By the time I was finished (an hour later) I was glad that nary a drop made it into the sink.

A long overdue thanks to Bighuge for all the fine beers he sent me.

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Bell's Batch 5000 from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.05 out of 5 based on 66 ratings.
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