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Founders Nemesis 2009

March 8th, 2010 beckel

Today I have a very exciting ale from the fine folk of Founders Brewing Company. Nemesis is their newest small batch series which aims to craft beers that are “diabolically brewed to decimate ordinary average run of the mill tasting beer” and release a unique product once a year. Out of sheer coincidence I was lucky enough to spot the last four pack on the shelves of The Four Firkins almost a month ago and there is no doubt it will be difficult to find, but surely worth your time and money even at about $5 a 12oz bottle. This years Nemesis is a Wheat Wine that was aged in the same bourbon barrels often used for their barrel aged Breakfast Stout [review] but with the addition of maple syrup and a very serious 12% ABV as well as 70 IBU. Nemesis pours a modestly dark hue that is a mix of red and an apricot hue that is very opaque but when brought to light becomes very bright and slightly translucent. Head is white and but a single finger of tight bubbles that last for a few minutes. Aroma is full of strong alcohol esters, a good dose of bourbon as well as sweet maple, toffee and caramel notes. A complex melody of flavors are present including bourbon, maple syrup, intense alcohol, sweet wheat esters and a variety of modest herbal and earthy notes. A few sips even reminded me of s’mores, minus the chocolate with creme esters being the primary attribute. This is one complex and highly alcoholic ale but I find the play between the maple and wheat to create very enjoyable flavor profile that helps balance and contrast the serious alcohol and bourbon esters nicely. Definitely not an ale for those unaccustomed to strong ales but a delicious brew that is certainly worthy if you stumble upon it. An intriguing contrast of stiff alcohol and bourbon with maple and sweet grains. As many of you know flavors are most detectable at around room temperature and this ale is a prime example of something to consume at proper serving temperature as the alcohol esters are much more assertive (and offensive to the palate) when served cold, yet delightfully complimented when served at near room temperature. Unquestionably a daring ale that I have sincerely enjoyed and would recommend to others, at least in small doses. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Founders Nemesis 2009

Founders Double Trouble

January 24th, 2010 beckel

Today I have another delicious Imperial IPA from the fine brewers of Founders out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founders makes a variety of tasty ales, some strong, some subtle, but there is no question they love to play with hops. While not quite as big as their Devil Dance [review] which they call a “Tripple IPA” Double Trouble is still one impressive hop centric ale that any hop head should enjoy. Double Trouble is part of founders Seasonal line up and has been available for many years though I never got around to sampling it until the other week at Stub & Herbs. So after enjoying a number of pints there and seeing it on the shelves of The Four Firkins a few days ago when I was there for their insanely busy Unibroue tasting I saw no excuse not to grab a 4-pack and enjoy it some more. Pours a bright slightly translucent apricot hue. Three fingers of clean white head are produced that slowly open into larger bubbles settling after about 5 minutes or so leaving a small amount of lacing around the glass. Aroma is delicious. Nicely bitter, a variety of floral and fruity hop esters, orange, grapefruit and a very smooth and well rounded malty sweetness to contrast as well as a gentle does of alcohol. Tastes intensely of hops, gentle orange and more intense grapefruit are easily identified as well as other citrus esters followed by smooth clean malty sweetness and serious bitterness and additional hop esters in the finish. While unquestionably not a beer for those who aren’t a fan of hoppy ales the contrasting malt profile does a very nice job of creating a variety of flavors in this intense 86 IBU ale. The body is medium and the mouthfeel is very smooth with some nice sweetness on the tongue. Coming in at 9.4% ABV this is certainly a proper Imperial IPA though the bitterness and other hop esters do a very good job at hiding the solid ABV. If you are a fan of massive hops, particularly the citrus and bitter aspects you should dig this ale. As a lover of intensely hoppy brews this ale unquestionably gets a big thumbs up, keep up the good work Founders.  Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Founders Double Trouble Imperial IPA

Founders Breakfast Stout

September 9th, 2009 beckel

Today I have a beer that I have wanted to try for some time. Founders Brewing Company out of Grand Rapids, Michigan makes some solid brews that I have thoroughly enjoyed but until now their famed Breakfast Stout has eluded me. A barrel aged version was briefly available at our local Stub & Herbs during their Founders tasting but unfortunately the tap ran out before I arrived. The label of this Imperial Stout states “Double Chocolate Coffee Oatmeal Stout” and though it may not have the word extreme in there anywhere it is sure to be an impressive brew. This hearty brew pours an incredibly dark brown hue that appears black and is completely opaque not allowing any light through. Head consists of creamy tight bubbles of over a finger that are a rich milk chocolate color. Very nice head retention and a good deal of creamy lacing. Smells of rich roasty coffee, soft chocolate notes and a gentle oat character. Tastes of sweet chocolate, rich dark roasted malts, a bit of oat and rich earthy coffee. This is one amazingly smooth brew with a wonderfully clean yet well carbonated mouthfeel. Body is on the heavy side but not overwhelming for the style. I am not a big drinker of coffee but this is one tasty stout that does a wonderful job using coffee to accent the roasted malts and chocolate in this brew yet not over power the flavors and alienate those who aren’t as accustomed to rich coffee. A solid coffee infused Imperial Stout that will be enjoyed by any fan of coffee and roasted barley and even those who are just looking for a quality strong dark beer. Though I thoroughly agree this is a wonderful breakfast beer I will have to warn you it is 8.3% ABV, so you may just want to have one or two…unless you plan to take an early nap. Another tasty brew in the Founders line up that I’m glad to have consumed. Too bad I missed that barrel aged version. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Founders Breakfast Stout

Founders Devil Dancer Triple IPA

July 30th, 2009 beckel

Somehow this is the first review of a Founders brew I have gotten around to writing about but rest assured it will be a worthy post. Founders who brews out of Grand Rapids, Michigan started distributing to our fine state of Minnesota a number of months back and since then I have sincerely enjoyed a good number of their brews particularly their Centennial IPA and Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale. Recently bottles of their Devil Dancer which they are calling a Triple IPA showed up on the shelves and upon glancing at it I immediately had sticker shock as it runs close to $20 for a four pack of this industrious brew. After reading the bottle I was almost intrigued enough to purchase some but after being graciously offered a sample at The Four Firkins I had no choice but to acquire some of this delightful ale. Brewed with 10 varieties of hops creating 112 IBU and coming in at 12% ABV this is one serious Imperial IPA.  This beer pours an attractive deep red hue that brightens when brought to light but is not translucent at all. Head is a clean white color with just under a finger being produced when lightly poured down the center of my glass. Though there isn’t a ton of carbonation the head retention was very nice leaving me with a small ring around the surface of the brew after many minutes. I find the aroma of this brew marvelous, so much that I had a hard time drinking the sample I was offered because I didn’t want the aroma to go away. The aroma is so full of hops it is difficult to isolate them but I notice grapefruit and passion fruit aromas most strongly as well as some pitted fruit notes and a bit of malty sweetness on top of a subtle pine note and very little alcohol considering its 12% ABV. This is one complexly delicious ale. The wonderfully robust malt profile provides dark pitted fruit flavors such as date to contrast with with the serious hoppyness of this brew. Again in the flavor grapefruit and passion fruit notes are most noticeable to me but are interestingly dulled by the massive malt profile though are by no means discrete. On the other hand the way the malt profile contrasts with the bitter notes of the hops is quite marvelous as the dark fruit flavors in the malt contrast wonderfully with the bitter hoppy tones. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is quite clean for this strong of a brew. To simplify a brew that is anything but; this is one intensely flavored hoppy strong ale with a wonderful malt base to support it’s massive hop profile. One thing that I have noticed from enjoying this bottle and my previous sample is that this beer (like many) is very subject to temperature. When I initially tried this brew straight from a fridge I didn’t notice the strong pitted fruit notes nearly as much but it was the first thing I noticed when consuming this bottle that I left sitting out for about 20 minutes. Further when colder it seemed the hops were more noticeable but I think that is largely because the malty flavors are more noticeable then when warmer. To confuse things further as I allowed this brew to warm even further in my glass during this review the hops slowly became more and more prevalent. This probably doesn’t help any of you but I found it interesting and will have to do some experimentation with the three bottles I have remaining to further my conclusion. Regardless of what temperature you serve this beer at it is unquestionably an awesome beer to share with any of your hop head friends and though it is unfortunate that commodities are continually increasing in price this is certainly a delicious brew that I doubt you will be disappointed in. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Update: After consuming another bottle of this brew straight out of the fridge later in the evening I have yet to decide which I prefer as they both offer unique and delicious flavors. Although I will say when served colder the malty flavors present are much sweeter and do not forwardly present the dark pitted fruit flavors I noticed before until warming for about 10 minutes and even then they are much less dominate. Additionally the hop notes seem to be a bit more forward though equally complex during that time. Cheers!

Founders Devil Dancer Triple IPA