All Day IPA

Maker: Founders, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Style: Session IPA

ABV: 4.7%

Note: No photo due to phone camera failure.

Appearance: Medium gold with a big foamy head.

Nose: Mild floral hops.

Palate: Spicy hops with a sweet malt background. Bitter, but not obnoxious.

Finish: Mild but with plenty of hoppy bitterness.

Parting words: As always, Founders delivers. All Day IPA delivers plenty of hoppy IPA punch at a low ABV for “all day” enjoyment. This beer has become my go-to beer for parties, lunches at home or having beer drinking friends over. It’s available on tap, in bottles and even in a 15 pack of cans (my preference). It’s also available at just about every party store, grocery store and gas station in these parts. For simple hoppy drinking, All Day IPA can’t be beat. Highly recommended.

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Backwoods Bastard

Style: Bourbon barrel aged Scotch ale.wpid-20150413_075543.jpg

ABV: 10.2%

Price: $15/4 pack (The Party Source)

Note: Annual release (November)

Thanks to Mike for this bottle!

Appearance: Murky brown with a slowly fading creamy head.

Nose: Whiskey, dark toasted malt, oak, smoke.

Palate: Molasses, licorice, burn toast.

Finish: Rye-recipe bourbon, oak, charcoal.

Parting words: This bottle was a gift from a former neighbor. He’s a big beer nerd (among other things) and he and his fiancée Connie are two of my favorite people. I’m a big fan of bourbon barrel aged beer and this is one of the best I’ve had. It’s very well balanced. I can taste the beer and I can taste what the barrel brings to the party as well. The flavors are perfectly intergrated into a seamless whole. This is a fantastic beer, like just about everything Founders does. Backwoods Bastard is highly recommended.

Mosaic Promise

Maker: Founders, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USAwpid-2014-12-22-17.31.24.jpg.jpeg

Style: IPA

ABV: 5.5%

Purchased for $10/6 pack

Notes: Brewed with a single malt (Golden Promise) and a single hop (Mosaic). Limited distrubion (Michigan, Wisconsin and the Chicago and NYC metro areas).

Appearance: Translucent orange with a delicate lacy head.

Nose: Big spicy hops with a bit of funk of indeterminate origin.

Palate: Spicy hops and a huge grapefruit flavor.

Finish: Big dry and bitter. Like having your oral cavity stuffed full of hops.

Parting words: Brewed to support the ArtPrize art competition in Grand Rapids, the beautiful image on the label is from a stained glass piece created by Matt and Elizabeth Kolenda that won the competition in 2013.

This is a beer I’m sure most hop heads will love. It’s crisp and refreshing with hops out the wazoo. It’s a solid but one-dimensional effort. I understand that they were going for something simple but for $10 a six pack, I expect more complexity. The proceeds  go to a good cause so maybe that can be factored in when deciding if it’s worth buying. Mosaic Promise is mildly recommended.

Dark Penance

Maker: Founders, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USAwpid-2014-11-03-17.35.42.jpg.jpeg

Style: Imperial Black IPA

ABV: 8.9%

Purchased for $12/4 pack

Appearance: Dark chocolate brown with a foamy head.

Nose: Big hops, ruby red grapefruit, dried flowers.

Palate: Hot cocoa, floral hops, bitter citrus peel.

Finish: Big and bitter but split between roasted malt and hops.

Parting words: The best way to describe the flavor of this beer is as a hybrid of a porter and a pale ale. Most black IPAs I’ve had seemed to be little more than a darker colored IPA. A few have had some more depth and toastiness, but none as rich as this one. It has all the bite and spice of a good IPA but with the depth and power of an imperial stout. I’m not often overawed by beers, especially not IPAs, but this one did it to me.

It’s expensive even by craft beer standards but it’s the best beer of this style I’ve ever had and I think it’s very much worth the price. Dark Penance is highly recommended.

Rübæus

Maker: Founders, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USARubaeus

Style: Raspberry Ale

ABV: 5.7%

Thanks to Patty for the recommendation.

Appearance: Crimson with a big fluffy head on initial pour,persistant lacing afterwards.

Nose: Raspberry jam, a hint of malt in the background.

On the palate: Full bodied, slightly tart but not overly sweet. Low-sugar raspberry jam with some malt and maybe even hops.

Finish: Creamy. Raspberry custard or maybe fool (look it up). Fades away slowly into a roasty malt flavor like the crimped edge of a baked pie crust.

Parting words: I one of those people who has said for a while that I didn’t like fruity beers, but Rübæus and another one (to be reviewed soon) have really changed my mind. . Raspberry was used at several stops along the way in the fermentation process and that care shows up in the depth of flavor and balance at every stop in the process of drinking it. The sweetness and some of the tartness of the fruit comes through without turning the beer into a pucker-fest. The creamy finish is really outstanding too. Makes a nice after dinner or summer afternoon treat. It comes in a four pack that sells for around $12 so it’s not cheap, but it is worth it. Rübæus is recommended.

Breakfast Stout

Maker: Founder’s, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USAbreakfaststout

ABV: 8.3%

Appearance: Dark chocolate brown with a pale head.

Nose: Bitter chocolate, black cherry.

On the palate: Medium-bodied. Rich, roasted grain flavors. Burnt toast, brandy, espresso beans.

Finish: Long and bitter. Like finishing a cup of French Roast.

Parting words: This beer delivers on the promise of the name. It’s like a dark roast coffee with a bowl of breakfast cereal in stout form. It’s rich in flavor and certainly potent at over 8% ABV, but not excessively boozey either. Goes well with a rich, cheesy meal or as just a meal in itself. One of Founder’s (and Michigan’s) best beers. Breakfast Stout is highly recommended.

Founder’s Porter

Maker: Founder’s, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

ABV: 6.5%

Appearance: Dark chocolate brown, nearly black, with a frothy brown head, like espresso crema.

Nose: Rich and slightly boozy. Bitter dark chocolate, coffee liqueur (you know the one), espresso.

On the palate: Full-bodied. Slightly bitter, but not overly bitter. Dry. French roast coffee, dark toast.

Finish: Long and bitter. Like gargling with coffee. Long-lingering.

Parting words: Founder’s is a textbook porter. It’s all roasted coffee deliciousness. Nothing not to like. That said, it could use a little more sweetness for balance. Good but one-dimensional.  Still, Founder’s Porter is recommended.

Old Curmudgeon Ale

Maker: Founders, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Style: Old Ale

ABV: 9.8%

Appearance: Slightly cloudy, dark auburn.

Thanks: to Oscar for this bottle and photo.

Nose: Malt, molasses, toasted wheat bread.

On the Palate: Medium bodied. Sweet and toasty, but not cloying. Like drinking Boston brown bread. Some faint ginger notes.

Finish: Bready and slightly sticky sweet.

Parting words: I am a big fan of Old Ales as a style. Long time readers may remember my glowing review of Big Dick’s ale from Arcadia. This one is very good, if a little one-dimensional at the moment. The ginger notes add some interest and hint at how the character of this beer may change after a year or longer in the bottle. Unfortunately this is the only one I have. Making a mental note to buy some as soon as I can! Old Curmudgeon is recommended.

Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale

Maker: Founder’s, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Style: Scotch Ale

ABV: 8.5%

Appearance: Dark brown like over-steeped Ceylon tea.

Nose: I know it sounds bizarre, but my first thought was home-made French fries. A little bitter, a little burnt, but sweet and starchy.

On the palate: Full-bodied and rich. Well balanced with sweet toffee and caramel backed up by some of that bitter, burnt starch taste.

Finish: The bitterness teeters on the edge of unpleasantness but never quite falls into the abyss.

Parting words: This is a very dry Scotch Ale, but it still is able to maintain good balance between the bitter roasted flavors and the caramel and candy flavors. A good solid ale.

Review: Red’s Rye PA

Maker: Founder’s, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Style: Rye Beer (in an IPA style)

ABV: 6.6%

Appearance: Big foamy head that sticks to the top of the glass. Body is pretty, slightly cloudy auburn.

Nose: Sweet, and fruity with a bit of spice

On the palate: The promise of the nose is brought to fruition: like eating a slice of slightly overripe mango with black pepper. The sweetness gets sweeter and the spice gets spicier. This beer has a big impact, but is never obnoxious or overbearing, to me anyway. As it sits in the glass, the spice component gets bigger and bigger and it starts to become more of a conventional IPA, albeit a very tasty one.

Finish: Long, and pleasantly bitter, with spice notes lingering as long as the hoppy bitterness does.

Parting words: This is a very well-executed beer, and for once that is not intended to be a back-handed complement. The big hops fit with the big spice and fruit rye brings to the party. I’m not a hop-head, but even I enjoyed it. Red’s Rye PA is recommended if you need some spice in your life.