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 ngandhi
4.55/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to the Esquire Lounge in Champaign, IL for cellaring this away.

The smoke in Bell's Batch 5,000 is enticing. Though faint on the nose, it's clearly deeper than just smoke. There's an interplay, a distinct subtlety, among the hops, malt, and smoke. It makes me think of a domesticated boar.

But the glory of this beer is on the tongue. The smoke opens the palette to a rich and viscous maltiness reminiscent of good imperial stout. Even without the smoke, this would have been a great beer. But then something odd happens, something I have asked of beers, but never seen. The smoke comes back, takes over the palette, and changes. Some great beers are loaded with flavor and each one is popping out at a different time -- it's rare to find a beer like that and so they are classics. But the 5,000 is a few steps beyond that. There isn't an emergence of another flavor on the finish -- it is the smoke -- but the smoke comes together with the malts and delivers pure, sweet caramel. Floral, caramel bacon barleywine.

This is probably what it'd be like to raid a taffy apple factory and stick you face beneath the caramel pourer. Ribbons of the velvety stuff stream down the gullet. And then green hops. And then that Bell's fruitiness.

And then another sip.

Relax, relax.

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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 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 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 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 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 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 beerluvr
4.44/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a short lived light tan head settling over hazy ruby-amber liquid. The nose is a potent blast of smoke and malt...beautiful! The taste is at first smoke to the extreme with malty/fruity notes followed by a wonderfully tasty smoky hoppiness that lasts forever...or until next sip, which brings lots of sweet malt and notes of dark fruitiness. It finishes long, bittersweet, smoky, complex & very enjoyable...outstanding! Despite a few not-so-glowing reviews I think this is one awesome commemoritive brew, very well made & very tasty!

Thanks to cretemixer for this beaut!

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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 Gusler
4.32/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a be-darkened mahogany brown color, the head miniscule, the texture frothy to the max, the color a winsome light chocolate, the residual lace is a fine sheet that covers the glass. Sweet malt with the smoke quite evident chased by caramel, and quite pleasant to the senses, the start is malt laden, thickly sweet and the top full and the smoke and alcohol bitterness along with the hops “Slaps your old palate immediately. Finish is prudently acidic, the hops big in their spiciness, dry as a desert bone aftertaste, a real “Belly Warmer”, and definitely an acquired taste.

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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 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 feloniousmonk
4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark violet color, thin head, and an extraordinarily pungent aroma. Profound smokiness abounds here, amazingly complex! Underneath the smoke and alcohol, what have we? Plums, raisins, leather, the earmarks of a strong barleywine, with that smoke flavor sitting firmly on top. A real champion, and another fantastic feat from Bell's. Definitely a sipping beer, for one cannot easily ingest these rough, but rewarding, flavors. Fruity, spicy, warming, smoky, that's the full bill! Alcohol kick comes in stronger at the end, and you have to wonder how they will celebrate batch 10,000.
Evaluating this beer is a tough call. A truly unique and well-made beer, but not a easy one to guzzle back, in the least. You can only have one at a time, and slowly, at the end of the night, not far from the bed...unless you're a masochist!
Also, the one beer I've managed to store for the longest time, ever. One year. KBC says it improves and becomes more complex over five years. We'll see if I can hold out for four more.

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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 inebrius
4.64/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Reminiscent of youthful campfires and faces smeared with wild berries picked fresh from the Northwoods and the drunkeness of windless evenings after all-day adventures. Majestic aroma of beechwood smoked malt among the tart and ripe fruits of a barleywine. A gloomy chestnut under a thin and grasping cap. Huge malt dawn soon vanishes into thin hop which trails into a long, fumy finish. A superbly crafted smoke beer that's easy to curl up and dream with.

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Photo of mjohn27603
4.4/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The color was tan or more like a walnut finish on a piece of furniture. There was quite a bit of sediment floating. I've had this one in the beer cellar for quite a few months. I took the first one out of the six pack on New Year's Eve just before midnight. I smelled a bit of hickory and smoke. The first sip reveals smoke and some sweetness. Definitely a sweeter beer than other smoked ales I've tried. Kind of like a smoked doppelbock. Maybe if they added liquid smoke to Celebrator.

I did have one almost a year ago when it was young and I recall the smoke being much more in your face. It has matured a bit and softened around the edges. A unique offering by Bell's. if you can't afford the $15 six pack try to pick up a single. My beer store sells it for $3 a bottle.

I'm going to finish it as the ball drops in Times Square. Happy 2003!

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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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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 Murph
4.2/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark amber/medium brown color with a 1/2" creamy reddish-tan head. Huge smoky/malty aroma. Some definite smoked meats as well as some slight malty sweetness. Great caramel malt sweetness opens up the brew with some nice woody undertones all the way through before the smokiness takes the torch and carries the brew through till the end. The transition is a very smooth one that eventually allows the smokiness to completely take over the brew while leaving a nice smoky presence in the mouth. The brew is extremely smooth and fairly crisp for its maltiness due to the smoke. Although it takes the palate a little while to get used to the flavors this is definitely a rather drinkable brew that leaves me wishing that I had drank it with some nice smoked food.

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Photo of Viking
4.19/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I felt this would be a good brew to try in anticipation of a Red Wings Stanley Cup victory!

Dark reddish-brown mud color with a thin head. Head lasts just a bit longer than the proverbial snowball in the underworld, and leaves a thin lace. Smell has a blend of caramel, cherry, and smoky roasted malt. When cold, smoky flavor is subdued and a wonderful blend of caramel, chocolate, and roasted malt shines through. As the beer warms, the smoked malt quickly dominates the other flavors. The brew has a thick, oily body that seems to cling to the tongue and leave a nice smoky aftertaste. Wonderful beer, but a bit too thick and strong (in abv terms) to score more 'drinkability' points.

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Photo of ADR
4.44/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I was going to store all of these but the call to drink was too much...Chunky, medium brown "swamp" color....Head is small-bubbled but persistent. Yeasty fresh smell, a hint of powerful smoke. Very full-bodied, nice and hugely sweet taste with a spicy almost nutmeg/cidery property, lots of smoked meat. Huge mouth coating properties. Tobacco smoke flavor mostly at the back and in the aftertaste. There is a kind of springtime freshly tilled soil taste but its not at all off putting -- well it is in a way, but its interesting to taste that old wet canvas of summertime tents in the days before nylon. The complexity of this beer is not so obvious as rich, like the smell of mown grass. Honey and fireplace ashes sums it up. Its also slightly more drinkable than I expected but pretty heavy duty. One IS enough at a sitting for me. As the meaty sweet aroma comes on, and you look at the floating murky yeast, don't think about this beer in any classic categories too much. Skoal on this one, it might even make a good steak sauce on its own!

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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 cokes
4.42/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This is something else.
Check out Bighuge's review for a vivid description of the appearance. I agree totally. Muddy, dark and thick looking. I expected some worms and grass clipping at the bottom of the glass. None to be found.
The smell is spicy smoke (almost meaty). I enjoy this alot, but I could see how one could easily be turned off. This could be dinner in itself.
The malts really make the beer. They provide a delicious, sweet foundation for the abundant smoke flavors. Very syrupy and sticky, with pronounced alcohol, but not in a bad way.
Enjoy it paired with smoked food (meats and cheeses). Also, wonderful as a stand-alone night-cap (as a change of pace) due to it's elevated ABV.
Due to it's thickness and huge character (and VERY high price), not a beer to quaff, but take your time with it and I think you'll be rewarded.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.89/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The appearance can be described like this: Go into your backyard with an ice-cream scooper. Get a scoop of mud and drop it into a pint glass. Dilute to 12 oz. with water and mix. Kalamazoo's beers have never been noted for "clean" appearances however. There's a definite smoky aroma here. Not much of a head. Strong smoky taste. There is some substance in this brew. There's a sweetness here too. Thick and Syrupy. This is a beer that will lay down nicely too.

Kalamazoo describes this as a smoked strong ale.

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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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