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Welcome To You're "Doom"

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I'll be honest, the real reason I tried this beer was so that I could make this obscure reference:

Welcome to you are doom

Killface: Why does it say "Welcome to you are 'Doom!'"? What does that even mean, and why, for God's sakes, is "Doom!" in quotes?
Valerie: I don't know.
Killface: Is this some sort of ironic doom? Is the wink implied?
Valerie: No, I don't know.
Killface: No, it isn't. So please tell me how and why I'm suddenly a laughingstock!
Valerie: Uh...'cause you signed off on the proofs?
[Killface just taps the postcard on his thigh]

If you know what the hell I'm talking about, then we're already friends.

Doom is basically a bourbon barrel aged version of Founders Double Trouble, their regular Double IPA. This... is an odd combination. Hops are volatile and fade with time, so aging a pale ale in general just seems like a bad idea. I suppose the idea is that the bourbon will add a malt flavor element that will make up for the faded hops, which might work if you can really time everything just right. There are a few other breweries out there that have tried this sort of thing, but I can't think of any that are really popular, and the one example of a barrel aged pale ale that comes immediately to mind is Brewdog Storm, a total clusterfuck. But Founders knows their shit, so maybe they'll fare better:

Founders Doom

Founders Doom - Pours a golden orange color witha finger of white head. Smells of caramel and maybe some piney hops. Taste hits those piney, sticky, resinous hops pretty hard, with the boozy bourbon coming out a little in the finish. As it warms up, the bourbon asserts itself more, but still only just the barest hint of oak. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, sticky, tightly carbonated, and boozy. Overall, better than expected and even a little interesting, I'm glad I tried it, but I'd probably be just as happy with regular Double Trouble. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV on tap. Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/6/13.

Founders continues to be a rock solid brewery, though I have to admit, they very rarely melt my face. I'll still keep an eye out for new releases, and maybe someday I'll truly get my world rocked.

Founders Bolt Cutter

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What do you do when your bank threatens to chain your brewery's doors shut if you don't make your loan payments? Well, the owners of Founders went out and bought a pair of bolt cutters. Fortunately, they didn't have to resort to that backup plan, and the brewery has grown into one of the country's most respected beer makers. To celebrate their 15th anniversary, they released a beer named after said backup plan, a whopping 15% ABV barleywine. It's another blend, with some of the beer aged in bourbon barrels, some in bourbon barrels that were also used to age maple syrup (which, by the way, I'd like to get ahold of sometime), and some just straight up barleywine.

It's part of Founders' backstage series of beers that were previously only available on tap at their brewpub in Michigan, and as such, their was a fair amount of attention paid to the release by beer nerds. Nowhere near the shitstorm surrounding CBS, but not quite the resounding "meh" of Frangelic Mountain Brown (which I enjoyed well enough). So these showed up on shelves, but they didn't last long at all...

Founders Bolt Cutter

Founders Bolt Cutter - Pours a beautiful looking bright orange/amber color (roby tones, so much clarity), with half a finger of quickly subsiding head. On the other hand, I'm getting some lacing and there's a thin film of head that kind of retains itself all throughout the experience. Smells of rich caramel and vanilla, with some fruity malt character peeking through, some light citrusy, grassy hops, and maybe a hint of boozy bourbon heat. Taste is full of rich caramel, some fruity notes, with those citrusy hops taking on more of a flavor component than expected, a very light bourbon note hitting in the middle, and a surprising but welcome bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is much lighter than expected. Still on the upper end of medium bodied, but not as heavy or foreboding as I'd expect. Certainly not a quaffable beer, but not really a sipper either. Something you can take a swig of, but not quite a gulp (these are scientific terms here). As such, there's a big warming alcohol component, maybe a little burn in the mouth, but I gotta say, it's cold outside, so this is nice. A little stickiness in the finish, but it works with the tenor of the beer. Overall, this is really good. Not mind-blowingly spectacular, but close. Really strong, well crafted, complex, and tasty. Truth be told, it might be my favorite Founders beer... A-

Beer Nerd Details: 15% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 1/4/13.

Another rock-solid offering from Founders. I don't know what's next for them. There's supposed to be another Backstage release in April, but I don't think it's been announced yet (beer nerds are still salivating over the March release of KBS). Oh, and then there's that bottle of Founders Breakfast Stout that's been sitting in my fridge for almost exactly 2 years at this point (yes, I know, coffee is supposed to fade with time, but I actually didn't care for the regular Breakfast Stout, so that will probably be a good thing in my book).

Founders Frangelic Mountain Brown

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I'm beginning to think I'm a fraud. I keep saying that I don't like coffee flavors in my beer, but then I rave on and on about weasel poop coffee beer, or Founders' Imperial Stout, or their vaunted KBS. The coffee just keeps coming, and I'm lapping it up. I should just admit that my conversion to the dark side of beer is complete. I've searched my feelings; I know it to be true.

And here's yet another example. At a recent tap takeover, I got me an extra helping of KBS (yum), then hopped on the Frangelic Mountain Brown train (this ordering is a bit unfortunate, as KBS is a bit of a monster, but this seemed to be the order in which everyone at the bar went in...) I didn't really know much about it other than that it was one of Founders' Backstage Series beers - stuff they used to only release on tap in their brewpub in Michigan, but that they now bottle in limited quantities, thus attracting the ebay vampires in search of arbitrage. When Canadian Breakfast Stout came out, there were tales of derring-do and elaborate heists as beer nerds strained their nerditivity to ge their hands on a bottle. Now, folks do seem to be enjoying Frangelic Mountain Brown, but it doesn't quite have the insane hype surrounding it that something like CBS had. This is probably a good thing, and despite it's coffee based nature, I gave it a shot:

Founders Frangelic Mountain Brown

Founders Frangelic Mountain Brown - Pours a dark brown color with beautiful amber highlights and a couple fingers of tan head. Smells of freshly ground coffee. When I was growing up, my dad used to use hazelnut flavored cream in his coffee, and that's what this reminds me of (and, of course, I found out that they used hazelnut flavored coffee in this beer after the fact, confirming that I was not crazy). Taste is similar - tons of coffee. Not like people normally talk about coffee in beer though, and certainly nothing like Founders' other coffee-centric stouts. Perhaps it's a distinct lack of roastiness that differentiates this... It's sweeter and smoother around the edges, nowhere near as bitter or roasty (though both components are there). Mouthfeel is medium bodied, but it goes down easy and is quite smooth. Overall, an exceedingly interesting beer! Probably not something I'd want to hit up often, but I'm really happy I got to try some. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV on tap. Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/31/12.

Despite what I said in the opening paragraph, I still don't think of myself as loving coffee-based beer. But perhaps brewers like Founders and Mikkeller have earned a pass when it comes to this stuff. Maybe I'll even get my hands on some CBS next year. Or not. I might be willing to participate in some light shenanigans to get a bottle, but no tragic or sad shenanigans. That's where I draw the line. What was I talking about again? I should stop writing now.

Founders Curmudgeon

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The Old Ale style is a somewhat nebulous one, and there's a lot of overlap with stuff like Strong Ale and Stock Ale (which are terms sometimes used interchangeably with Old Ale), but near as I can tell, there actually are a few distinguishing characteristics. They're generally pretty high in starting gravity and relatively low in IBUs (sorta like an English Barleywine or a Scotch Ale), but they display a lower degree of apparent attenuation (meaning that there still a lot of residual sugars (dextrin) in the finished product). As the style name implies, these beers are also aged for a long period of time before distribution. This aging develops some interesting flavors along the lines of a lightly acidic, fruity malt character. Historically, given the challenges with sanitation in olden times, there was almost certainly some of that funky Brettanomyces character that came through... however, I don't think most modern examples have that feature (unless specifically designated as such). I certainly didn't detect any funk in Founders' typically solid take on the style:

Founders Curmudgeon

Founders Curmudgeon Old Ale - Pours a hazy amber brown (copper?) color with a minimum of light tan head. Smells of bready malts with a dark fruity kick (perhaps from that aging and booze). Taste is very sweet, featuring lots of rich malt flavors of caramel (maybe a little vanilla) along with a pronounced fruitiness and some booze. Mouthfeel is rich and smooth, creamy, but with plenty of tight bubbled carbonation. This feels very much like a scotch ale, though it's also similar to the recently reviewed Otter Creek Anniversary strong ale... I didn't realize it, but apparently this was aged on new oak of some kind (details are a little sparse), which I think may have tempered some of the flavors, which could easily have been unruly or overpowering, but really weren't. Overall, it's pretty darn good. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9.8% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 7/21/12. 50 IBUs. Bottled 4/19/12.

As usual, Founders delivers. And of course I'd love to try Curmudgeon's Better Half, one of those impossible to find Founders Backstage series beers that was aged in Bourbon Barrels that were also used to age maple syrup (yum). Alas, I missed out on the release earlier this year... here's to hoping that they get around to making some more next year...

Despite the fact that the IPA style seems to be my most reviewed style on the blog, I do find that you need to strike a bit of a balance with drinking them. At the extremes - drinking only IPAs all the time or barely drinking any - the style seems to get a bit... samey. But if you find the right balance, they can be a revelation. One of things that I've found most interesting about IPAs is drinking two of them back to back (I find diminishing returns after two though). This gives you an opportunity to compare and contrast, and if you choose your beers right, you can discover a huge variation in the style. So here we have two Founders IPAs, one their basic, year round Centennial, and the other being their souped up Double IPA. In some ways, this isn't really fair, as DIPAs generally pack in a lot more flavor, but it's still an instructive exercise.

Of course the point of these posts is to pair beer with movies, and in this case I took in a Walter Matthau double feature: Charley Varrick and Hopscotch. Both are fun little 70s and early 80s flicks about things like crooks and spies. Neither really blew me away, but I had a blast with my IPAs and viewing material...

Founders Centennial IPA

Founders Centennial IPA - Pours a cloudy orangish color with a finger of whitish head and plenty of lacing. The smell is filled with floral hops, maybe some sweet citrus too. The taste starts sweet, with some of that citrus character giving way to more pungent, spicy, and floral hop flavors, followed by a nice bitter bite in the finish. Mouthfeel is great, medium bodied, a little bit of a bite to it, but well carbonated. Overall, a very well crafted IPA. Unfortunately, Centennial hops don't seem to jive that well with me, at least in this formulation. I like this beer, but it's not my preferred IPA... B

Beer Nerd Details: 7.2% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip glass on 5/11/12.

Founders Double Trouble

Founders Double Trouble IPA - Pours a golden yellow color, lighter and a little more clear than the Centennial, with a finger of white head and plenty of lacing. Smells strongly of sweet hops, a ton of grapefruit character. At this point, I'm guessing Simcoe hops. Taste starts off sweet with an immediate bitter balance, both of which intensify through the middle, finishing with a little bit of extra bitter dryness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with plenty of tight carbonation, and maybe just a hint of booziness. Overall, very nice, better than average double IPA, though not quite best in class. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9.4% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip glass on 5/11/12.

As usual, Founders doesn't disappoint... and there's still quite a few of their beers that I haven't yet tried either. Nothing else in the immediate pipeline, but I'm sure we'll get our hands on some more of their beers at some point...

Founders Imperial Stout

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So this isn't going to make sense to most of you, but today is Founder's Day! My place of employment is 26 years old today, so to celebrate, I'll write about a different kind of Founders... Ok, so I drank it about a month ago, but it still works, right?

Founders Imperial Stout

Founders Imperial Stout - Pours a deep black color with a finger of quite darkish brown color head. Smells strongly of roasted malts and dark crystal malts, some coffee with perhaps a hint of dark chocolate peeking through. Taste starts very sweet, with a bit of chocolate followed by those roasted malts emerging quickly into the middle, flavors of roast coffee asserting strongly in the middle and finish. The rich chocolate falvor becomes more prominent as the beer warms, which was much appreciated. Mouthfeel is full bodied, thick, and chewy, but still a joy to drink. Overall, a very nice imperial stout that emphasizes some flavors that are not quite my preference, but it's still impeccable and extremely well crafted. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10.5% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 5/11/12.

Founders is one of the best breweries in the country, so I will continue to explore their catalog whenever possible. I think I even have a few more reviews in the pipeline...

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout

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Call me Mark. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me at my local bar, I thought I would sail about a little and see the beer-soaked part of the world. So begins Moby Dick (uh, I may have paraphrased a bit). You see, us beer dorks have our own white whales. The rare, the fabled, the mythical beers we seem to constantly hear about on the internets, but which are mysteriously absent from all but the luckiest of bottle shops. I've actually had a pretty great run of whales this year, and my latest victory is the vaunted Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS for shorts, it currently resides at #10 on Beer Advocate's top beers list).

As with a few other whales, it's something I just assumed I'd never get my hands on... Not just because it's rare, but because I was actually a bit disappointed by Founders' standard Breakfast Stout. This isn't really surprising, as I'm not much of a coffee guy and that particular beer is dominated by roasted coffee flavors (Perhaps espresso? I'm pretty clueless about the flavor distinctions of the coffee world...) It's not that I hate coffee or anything, I just don't like when it overpowers a beer. But a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Aged Breakfast Stout? Now you're speaking my language. I'm still expecting coffee, but also a heaping helping of bourbon, vanilla, and chocolate, a flavor combination I'm more in tune with.

Plus, as it turns out, the base beer of KBS isn't actually the regular Breakfast Stout. According to an email from Founders (big ups to Scott of Beerbecue for doing the legwork here, and sharing it): "KBS is its own entity. It is like Breakfast Stout's big brother. Kinda like an Imperial BS." So apparently they brew a special imperial stout specifically made to age well in the bourbon barrels they sourced. In the words of Melville: "Such a portentous and mysterious monster roused all my curiosity."

Founders KBS

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout - Pours a very dark, very thick, oily brown color with a surprising finger of light brown head (I've heard this has very little, but I got plenty!) Smells strongly of roast coffee and malt, along with something a little sweeter that I can't quite place (perhaps that bourbon peeking through). At this point, I was a little worried that this would be another coffee bomb, but fortunately, that didn't happen, and as it warmed, the nose opened up a little, evincing more balance. The taste actually ends up being quite distinct from the nose, though that coffee and roast malt character is certainly there. I'm getting a lot of caramel and chocolate out of the taste, especially at the start and the middle, and a very light bourbon kick also comes out to play, tempering the coffee and roast character, which doesn't show up until the finish and aftertaste. At first this seemed a bit unbalanced, but as it warmed, the flavors coalesced into something deserving of all the hype this beer gets. The mouthfeel is superb. Perfectly carbonated, full bodied and a bit chewy, this nonetheless doesn't feel like an 11.2% ABV beer - the alcohol is well hidden, except for a bit of that alcohol warming effect when you drink too quickly (which you will, because this stuff is excellent). Overall, it's a wonderful, unique, and complex beer, quite deserving of the hype. And like everything Founders makes, it's masterfully crafted stuff. Is it my favorite beer evar? Not really, but I can see what the fuss is about here. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11.2% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a snifter on 4/15/12. Bottled on 2/17/12. 70 IBUs.

The bottle also sez: Does not give relief from: rheumatism, neuralgia, sciatica, lame back, lumbago, contracted muscles, toothache, sprains, swellings, and all manner of distress. Is good for everything a stout ought to be good for.

I'm quite glad I managed to stumble on two bottles of the stuff during a routine stop at a local beer joint. Knowing that the beer was just making its way to our area, I asked the beer monger if he had any. Limit of two per customer, and you've got to buy a case of Founders too. I'm not entirely sure if that's legal, but hell, it's Founders beer. It's not like it's gonna go to waste!

Someday I hope to get my hands on Founders' even more rare Canadian Breakfast Stout. As I mentioned yesterday, there's a big secondary market for used Bourbon Barrels, and apparently some folks (let's call them Canadians) use these barrels to age Maple Syrup (actually, where can I get some of that goodness?). Founders then takes these bourbon/syrup barrels and ages their standard Breakfast Stout (brewed with extra coffee and chocolate) in them. Sounds like amazing stuff. Alas, I think I missed my chance for these suckersthis year, as they were amongst the most sought after beers in the country (seriously, the mania surrounding CBS looked even more insane than the craziness surrounding Pliny the Younger). Perhaps I'll get some next year, or the year after, once the hype has subsided minutely enough for me to find a bottle (yeah, I might be waiting longer than that...)

Finally, I almost forgot, I have the last bottle from the 4 pack of Breakfast Stout that I bought last year. It's been in my fridge for that whole time, but we're heading into the summer months now, so perhaps I'll wait til fall to crack that open. Perhaps the age will mellow that excessive coffee, and I'll love it...

Founders Porter

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Just who is that lovely lady on the label of this beer? Looks like a Victorian era painting... According to Founders, she's Dark, Rich, and Sexy. Or maybe that's the beer they're talking about...

Founders Porter

Founders Porter - Pours a dark brown color with a finger of tan head. Smells strongly of roasted malts, with some coffee and maybe even chocolate thrown in for good measure. Really nice nose. Taste starts sweet, maybe with some of that chocolate, but it gets drowned out by a heaping helping of roasted malts and coffee flavors starting in the middle and intensifying through the finish. A bitterness (which seems to come from more than hops, perhaps from those dark malts, with all their coffee and dark chocolate character) emerges in the finish as well. This ain't an imperial stout or anything, but it packs a ton of flavor in a relatively small package. Mouthfeel is well carbonated and reasonably full, and it finishes dry. Overall, while porter is not one of my favorite styles, this is exceptionally well executed and one of my favorite examples of the style. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a snifter on 3/24/12.

Several months ago, I had bought a Founders variety pack, so I had a few of these floating around. At first, I didn't care for it, but it quickly grew on me, and now I feel like it could be a go-to beer in some instances. Another thing I've found is that this beer goes really well with a good cigar. I'm no cigar expert and don't smoke them very often, but those roasted malt flavors match quite nicely with, uh, smokey flavors from the cigar.

Anyways, I'm thinking that Founders is one of the all-around best breweries in the country, and while I've had my fair share of their standard beers, I should really seek out some of the more obscure stuff and seasonal releases.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

Email me at mciocco at gmail dot com.

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