01 December 2010

Kitchen Table Beer Diary #1 - Gina and Mike

Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout

The likelihood of me ever buying this was pretty much at nill - Leinenkugel is the brand you pass over at the grocery store on your way to buying Sierra Nevada or New Belgium - so when Gina picked it up off the shelf at Stoney's (recommended if only to be surprised at what's on the shelf) I had to wonder what was up. In any case, I'll try anything.

Big Eddy is one of those deep dark no-light-getting-through-this sort of stouts, with a thin little head and a nose that goes off the deep end of chocolate right into cough medicine. When cold, the beer doesn't reveal all that much, really - a thin front leads way to a bitter chocolate middle and a lingering sweetness, but all told it's not exactly a huge flavor. Once warm the beer opens up a little bit, revealing a smoky touch and a hint of gameyness. A little more warmth brought out a hint of banana and maple syrup in the nose.

You might have read all that and thought "there's a lot going on in there", but actually the beer just sort of falls flat. It's not that it's a bad beer by any means, but there's not enough of any of those elements to make it stand out. I'm not sure I need a four pack in my fridge. But it's there anyway.

I picked this up because I remembered reading good things about it. And for under $12 a four pack, I thought "why not?"

We poured this pretty cold so the nose was completely metallic. It turned more to caramel and smoked malt once it warmed up a bit. It also had a strong aroma of booze, which ended up being somewhat deceptive to the actual flavor. The mouthfeel was full and the flavor was smoked malt with a slight citrusy tinge.

In the end, the price point is nice, but I can't say I'll be seeking it out.

Bell's Batch 9000

Seven months on this since release, and rumor has it that this is getting better with age. Deep brown, thin head, and a big brandy nose lay in wait. The first most striking thing about the beer is its mouthfeel, a silky smooth almost syrupy gift that's a pleasure to drink. There's a sweetness throughout, with more brandy flavors: caramel and a hint of oak, combined with hints of fudge and a rich raisiny sweetness.

This is indeed drinking well right now, I recommend a bottle at room temperature if you kept any. But I'll remind you that this is still a big rich beer - perhaps best shared with a friend.

This is drinking really excellent now. The fizzy pour is the only indication of a head and that goes away rather quickly. The nose is bright and full of wonderful bourbon and caramel scents as well as the ones that Mike mentioned. The sediment in the glass and the sharp, sweet flavors are all that's left after the beer is gone. I would love to see what this would be like as a glaze over some pot roast, but I am not willing to give up the remaining bottles I have.

Bell's Batch 10000

After the hype and wait that surrounded the release of Batch 9000, you might expect Batch 10000 to be an even bigger and better beer than its predecessors. That certainly looked to be the case with its list of 42 million ingredients, but at first sniff the nose seems less impressive. Of course any beer that uses 90 hops (seriously) should have some sort of hoppy nose, and 10000 provides a poutpouri of citrus notes - more muddled than individualized. Following up with sips proves that the nose isn't lying - what we have here is a sort of found object collage in a glass.

The beer is a mess, really, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing - there are repeated hints of orange and salty Worcestershire, smokey malt and peat - let's be honest, I can almost say anything here and you'd have a hard time making an argument against it.

There's no way that Bell's could have had any idea what they'd get with this beer, and the end result shows. There's a reason you don't throw everything in the brew supply shop in a beer. Having said that, the beer does drink remarkably smooth, and actually rewards repeated sipping. I urge you to find out for yourself. You certainly aren't going to have anything else like this any time soon.

The aroma of this is strong with hops, orange zest, and a scottish-style malt base. The flavor is heavy in citrus and cut wood characters. I cannot wait to see how this one ages. With the list of ingredients, it will be fun to see how the flavors change over time. There are a ton of hops in here, but as this ages and the hops fall out, it will be interesting to see what direction the other ingredients will take the beer. Unfortunately, with the limited supply being made available here, it may be difficult to get that opportunity.

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