Tag Archive: Founders

Founders: CBS – Canadian Breakfast Stout (USA: Imperial Stout: 11.7% ABV)

Visual: Black and still. Thin brown dash of a head.

Nose: Roasted, rich coffee. Vanilla. Toffee. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Peanuts. Slight bubblegum.

Body: Maple syrup. Black cherry. Chocolate liqueur. Oily mouthfeel. Eel sashimi. Liquorice touch. Toasted teacakes. Cashew nuts. Muted but complex toffee. Fudge. Frothy milky chocolate.

Finish: Oily sheen. Riesen chocolate chews. Light liquorice. Maple syrup. Vanilla toffee. Toasted teacakes. Toasted marshmallow. Caramel. Cashews. Bitter coffee. Ash. Bitter cocoa. Cloyed sour cream touch and chives.

Conclusion: Oddly, my mate also got a bottle of this – and he handed it to me to try once without telling me what it was. On fist sip I went “Hold on Maple syrup? This tastes of maple syrup. Wait, is this the CBS?” So I’m fairly confident that when I say I taste maple syrup notes in this that, for once, I know they are not psychosomatic.

So how is it? Surprisingly bitter considering both the maple syrup and the barrel ageing. Both the coffee and the cocoa push out in quite a bitter but complex way – holding the middle ground of the beer nicely.

The maple syrup gives a more oily sheen and some sweetness against that bitterness. The bourbon barrel ageing seems to be lost within that heavier maple character – it gives lighter vanilla notes than usual, mainly showing itself in the very smooth character of this high abv beer.

So, as a beer it definite rocks the maple syrup – despite the high bitterness presence this still comes in over that and stomps all over it. I kind of wonder what the base beer would be like without the coffee, cocoa, barrel ageing and maple syrup, as it is pretty much lost under them. Then again I think that is kind of the point.

I do feel that its reputation is somewhat exaggerated by its original rarity but … it is still a good beer; this has tasty contrasts – bitter coca vs sweet maple syrup. Bitter coffee smoothed by barrel ageing. It is a good look – a tad artificial tasting – but you know – maple syrup. I kind of expected that.

I would say that their KBS is a better beer on the technical side of things, and more balanced, but this has an element of silly fun amongst a solid beer and I dig that. If you can get this at a non silly price then it is worth it. It is fairly single minded but with subtle bitter, umami and savoury notes so it is balanced better than you would expect.

Is it a top 50 Imperial Stout, let along top 50 beer? No. It’s bloody good though.

Background: So, this is a beer that used to go for about a hundred dollars a bottle on resale when it first came out, It had jumped straight into rate beers top 50 beers and people were desperate to get hold of it. Though it is is still in ratebeer’s top 50 I managed ot get it at a far more reasonable price of seven quid fifty from Beer Hawk. Which was nice.

Anyway, this is the same beer as KBS, but while this has also been aged in bourbon barrels, those bourbon barrels previously held maple syrup. Hence Canadian Bourbon Stout, despite the fact this was not made in Canada. Makes sense, right? Anyway, this was drunk while listening to Two Steps From Hell – Archangel, aka epic music made for movies and trailers, which always makes for great backing music when chilling and drinking.


Founders: Green Zebra (USA: Gose: 4.6% ABV)

Visual: Slightly dark lemon juice. Some carbonation. Large fluffy white head.

Nose: Slight sulphur. Distinct watermelon.

Body: Golden syrup. Vanilla. Watermelon. Cane sugar. Grapes. Honey. Apples. Salt. Shortbread.

Finish: Golden syrup. Watermelon. Salt and vinegar crisps. Honey. Apples. Crapes. Lime cordial.

Conclusion: This is possibly the sweetest gose I have ever had. It eschews the harshly salty and tart recent craft takes on the style, even goes past the light sweetness of the Goslar breweries’ take in the style, and instead goes into a full on honey beer thing that tastes more like a watermelon mead than anything else.

Now the salt notes come out softly later, so it isn’t abandoning the gose side – but what really sells this beer is the watermelon. I was imaging this would be fresh watermelon over a tart gose- instead I’m getting sweet watermelon doused in syrup and honey. It is a simple joy. It is shockingly sweet for a sub 5% abv beer – I don’t know how the heck they manages that without a higher malt load, then they use an impressively detailed set of watermelon notes, along with apples, grapes and other green fruit to add contrast and complexity to the beer.

The most gose like element is the slightly drier and saltier finish, but even that is fair honey dominated. Time allows you to get used to the sweetness, and then the watermelon and the rest of the fruit can really rock – in fact, at this point I kind of dig it.

Now – this is a simple sweet crowd pleaser of a beer and far from what you would expect from a gose, but frankly I enjoy it. Go in to it with the right expectations (i.e. not expecting heavy tartness or saltiness) and this does the watermelon thing in a really fun fashion. It it a classic? No. Is it a joy to drink? yes. And some days that is all you want.

Background: I’ve been meaning to pick this up for a while, a watermelon gose just sounded off enough to be fun. Unfortunately other beers kept jumping ahead in the queue. But now, finally I have it. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Goses are now far from the nearly dead style they once were – slightly salted wheat beers that vary massively in level of tartness, sweetness and saltiness in the expressions I have encountered. This was drunk while listening to Andrew WK’s new album again – it is just so damn joyous.

Founders: DKML (USA: Malt Liquor: 14.2% ABV)

Visual: Pale brown to apricot. Large creamy bubbled white to beige head.

Nose; Vanilla. Bourbon. Condensed cream. Toffee. Crushed Blackpool rock. Raspberry yogurt.

Body: Vanilla. Fudge. Cream. Rye biscuits. Grapes. Brown bread. Peppery. Cardboard. Cherries. Brown sugar. Liquorice.

Finish: Pepper. Rye crackers. Fudge. Cream. Brown bread. Rough alcohol edge – cheap spirit. Vanilla. Slight dried apricot. Unflavoured puff crisps.

Conclusion: I am fairly sure that this is leaning very, very heavily on the bourbon ageing to make it manageable. Now, for all that, I will admit the bourbon ageing does do its job well – lots of vanilla, toffee, cream and fudges notes. That part is very well done.

The base finds it hard to peak through all that bourbon, but when it does, it does seem like more of a mixed bag. There are cherry notes, grapes and even occasion apricot elements which are good, though none are too formidable, they are all lighter, harder to find elements. On the bad side of things, well there is an unfinished alcohol sheen, a kind of rough pepper to rye crackers thing, and even the dreaded cardboard notes. Some of these are elements that can be used well, but are just a tad rough here, some is just rough alcohol notes.

Taken in small amounts it is quite appealing and better than most examples of the… style that I have encountered; There has been a lot done to make the top half of the beer quite appealing. Unfortunately in the latter half of drinking this the body starts pushing the rough edges and unfinished alcohol style into a more unenjoyable look.

An interesting experiment and half a good beer, but also half a massive failure of a beer, and together not one I would say to grab.

Background: Malt Liquor? Something I’ve pretty much only ever encountered in the USA, and, frankly, tends to be more than a tad grebby. Thus I was intrigued by this – a malt liquor by the respected Founders brewery, aged in bourbon barrels, and one that actually has a decent reputation on review aggregation sites. So, ok, I thought – let’s do the first malt liquor review of the site and hope for the best. Yet again, one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Put on Miracle Of Sound’s Level 8 collection of film and video game inspired music while drinking this – the guy is a genuine music maestro.

Founders: Lizard Of Koz (USA: Imperial Stout: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Medium sized frothy brown head.

Nose: Caramel. Vanilla toffee vodka. Sugared blueberry pie. Chocolate syrup. Treacle. Light liquorice. Black and red cherries. Coconut macaroons. Nougat.

Body: Sherbety lemon. Tart blueberry. Chocolate fondue. Light aniseed. Glacier cherries and sultanas into fruitcake. Nougat. Liquorice. Slight prickling alcohol. Bourbon.

Finish: Blueberry. Sweet milky chocolate. Vanilla fudge. Fruitcake. Nougat. Slight prickling alcohol air. Light nettles. Light charring. Golden syrup cake.

Conclusion: Whelp, this is a very sweet one and a spirity one at that; A combination that creates an odd but not unpleasant contrast – and definitely tells you that this is a very big beer that you have in your hands.

Right from the off you get the blueberry nestled amongst heavier, syrupy chocolate and treacle flavours – however even against those heavy flavours there is no mistaking the blueberry pie character. A similar thing comes as you take a sip – distinct sweet and lightly tart berries amongst a deep, thick, syrupy sweet imperial stout base. What is unusual is how the bourbon ageing shows itself so roughly – the traditional vanilla does show itself in the aroma, but in a very spirity way; Once you get to the main body it is very much raw bourbon spirit coming through , or even some blended whisky style – rather than being a subtle influence on the beer you can really taste the bourbon itself.

Around that set of big notes there goes manage to be a good chunk of more subtle notes – coconut to nougat notes float in the aroma delicately – though only a thicker, chewy nougat survives through into the heavy body. Similarly a mix of cherries becomes heavier, stodgy fruitcake flavour when it reaches the body. The aroma works the subtle notes, the body brings the force.

Together? Well it is a tad raw – lots of sweetness, lots of tells to the alcohol weight, lots of spirity character; Enjoyable as hell, but refined it aint. Maybe some time ageing will sooth that out. Right now it is fun but very rough around the edges. It definitely uses the blueberries well, but the use of oak ageing feels too overt. Still good, but unbalanced as fuck and stupidly sweet. Make of that what you will.

Background: I nearly grabbed this in Germany – I had seen it there and thought that the odder Founder’s beers don’t turn up very often so it may be worth grabbing. I decided against it and instead grabbed some more local beers that I just could not get in the UK. Good thing as well – The week I returned to the UK Independent Spirit got it in. The amount of times I grab beers abroad only for them to turn up for the first time in the UK weeks later, I was glad to dodge that curse this time. Anyway this is a blueberry, chocolate and vanilla infused Imperial Stout that has been aged in bourbon barrels. Which sounds awesome I have to admit. A big beer like this needed big music, so I shoved on some Meshuggah! Oh yeah!


Founders:Rübæus (USA: Fruit Beer: 5.7% ABV)

Visual: Deep cherry red. Dash of an off white head.

Nose: Tangy and musky mix. Raspberry. Strawberry undertones. Brambles.

Body: Sweet strawberry ice cream syrup. Tart raspberries. Slight cheeseboard character. Twigs. Raspberry ripple ice cream, Grapes behind.

Finish: Sweet raspberry syrup. Oak. Malt chocolate note. Raspberry ripple ice cream. Cheese cake.

Conclusion: Hmm. You know I really should stop starting conclusions with “Hmm”. Hmm, you know, syrupy sweet fruit beers tend to have a rep as being a bit crap. Bit sugary sweet, inoffensive, that kind of thing.

The thing is, this is quite syrupy sweet, but actually pretty good.

Its sweetness is not a million miles away from New Glarus’ Raspberry Tart, and has a similar very full raspberry character, with tons of genuine fruitiness. Where it differs is in an almost ice cream and ice cream syrup styling that is streaked throughout. Despite that though, you really get the raw fruitiness and a good light tartness. There is even unexpected notes, some strawberry in particular – I have no idea where that come from.

It also shows similarity with New Glarus in that it has that twig and cheeseboard character for complexity, though here the increased sweetness moves it more into cheesecake territory. Even with all the fruitiness the base texture is readily identifiable as beer, if perhaps beer that has had syrup squirted in it. It seems half way between a Fruli and New Glarus, with a call to the flavours of both.

The syrupyness does occasionally work against it, but with that exception it is a very tasty fruity beer, like a raspberry ripple beer.

You know, I think that is the second time I have used that description for a beer.

Tasty, easy to drink, very good fruit character but just a tad too syrup filled. Still pretty good.

Background: Yes I copy pasted the name to save looking up all the special characters. This is a raspberry beer, and the first time I have seen Founders on tap outside of the USA. So I decided to do a review. While I was drinking away The Eels, White Stripes, the Radiohead came on the sound system. It was like a flashback to my late teen years. Not entirely a bad thing. Anyway, it was sunny. Again. My attempts to extinguish the sun with pure hate are yet to be successful.

Founders Porter

Founders: Porter (USA: Porter: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Light coffee brown dash for a head.

Nose: Roasted and smoke. Nutty. Bitter coffee.

Body: Bitter chocolate and roasted nuts. Treacle toffee. Liquorice toffee. Sweet chocolate liquore touches. Cream cheese and chives lightly. Black cherry. Near the end gets vinous.

Finish: Cream cheese. Chalk. Coffee granules. Roasted nuts. Quite bitter. Chocolate. Slight medicinal feel and smoke. Coffee.

Conclusion: Porters can sometimes be viewed as the lesser cousins of stouts, an odd fact considering the oft loose boundaries between the two styles, but there you go.

This porter on the other hand bows down to no beer. Initially it seemed closed as the aroma didn’t bring much with mainly roasted and nut elements. This turns out to be because it was saving all its play for that first sip.

That first mouthful, pretty much pure bitter chocolate. Then it takes time and further drinking for the sweet elements to come out and then add slick liquore like touches. Longer still for the traditional porter smooth creamy coffee to come into play.

The finish similarly gives you a lot over time. Initially simple and dry it progresses through chocolate, smoke and lightly medicinal drying touches by the end.

That progression is the thing. The sweetness into the medicinal, or bitterness into sweet chocolate. Every path leads to a new contrast and contradiction. The comparatively restrained porter style compared to the stout allows you to go looking for the flavour rather than it forcing itself to you and the seeking makes it all the more worth it.

This shows how the porter can still stand up on its own two feet, how the lower strength and intensity can be to its advantage rather than a flaw. Excellent. One of the great porters and great beers.

Background: Last of the recent batch of Founder’s beer I picked up. The other to didn’t quite catch my imagination, but I had high hopes for this one. You see, my first experience with Founders was with their stouts and they were bloody lovely. So hopefully this would come through the same way. This was picked up from Brewdog’s guest beer section.

Dirty Bastard

Founders: Dirty Bastard (USA: Scotch Ale: 8.5%ABV)

Visual: Dark black cherry red, toffee touched froth head.

Nose: Wine soaked raisins. Mulled spices. Chocolate dust. Grapes.

Body: Raisin. Cherry. Port. Grapes. Slightly vinous. Rich. Feels treacle touched. Chalk. Slightly sour.

Finish: Bitter. Charring and cocoa dust. Raisins. Treacle. Sour.

Conclusion: OK, while I’ve mentioned this in the background as well, lets open up with the fact that I am quite hard to sell on scotch ales. I’ve found a bunch I’ve enjoyed, don’t get me wrong. However your everyday example tends to leave me cold.

This example therefore almost seems to be deliberately trying for my attention by having some cross style elements exchange. The rich vinous elements and slight sourness call more to old ales than scotch ales for me, a style I am generally better disposed to.

The chocolate malt and raisin flavours are more traditional scotch ale fare and something about their combination with the old ale elements seem to push them up to almost sickly levels. I like what they do with each side, but combined they don’t quite grab me. It could be the treacle like feel it brings, which is slightly overbearing.

There are elements that feel like they should be balancing, the chalk and charring elements would normally be grounding touches, here they feel like a slight off element rather than an integrated part of the character.

Now, my disposition towards scotch ales means I am probably being a bit harsh here, there is a lot to like. By itself the old ale like elements are very well done and powerful, and the sweetness, while quickly overpowering is very tasty in moderation. The early half of the glass I enjoyed much more than the latter. Overall it feels less enjoyable than the sum of its parts.

It is a pity, as each part has an element I enjoy. The call to old ale is an interesting twist, the subtle rising chocolate is well done, the sour touch refreshing. Together it just feels a bit of a mess.

Not a scotch ale that converts me to the cause, but as always, I will admit my biases on this style. If you are more of a fan, I get the feeling it will have a lot to catch your attention.

Background: Picked up from Brewdog’s Guest Beer section. I am not a huge fan of scotch ales, so be warned on that, however a few exceptionally well done examples over the years have caught my attention so I’m always happy to give them a try. Founders have been generally good with their line up so they seemed like a good go to, to see if something special could be done. For one thing it meant I could break out the absurdly fun and ridiculous scotch thistle glass again.

All Day IPA

Founders: All Day IPA (USA: IPA: 4.7% ABV)

Visual: Dark orange gold. Loose white bubbles in a thick head.

Nose: Lemon. Pine cones and resin. Dried apricots. Light sulphur. Pineapple. Orange.

Body: Nicely bitter. Resin. Greenery. Slightly thin texture below. Hops. Light passion fruit. Fluffy hop feel. Lemon builds up over time.

Finish: Bitter clinging hops. Quite dry. Smoke. Popcorn. Lightly floral.

Conclusion: Considering the punch out amazing aroma this thing has, I was expecting more from it. As the cap popped from the bottle I got resin, lemon, pine cones and citrus notes wafting into the air.

I took a good long while just appreciation the aroma before I finally dipped in to sample my first sip, and ,well…It is surprisingly thin behind the hop bitterness. There are soft fruit notes, and definitely a good bitterness but nothing to really sink your teeth into. I know they are going for a session ale, and the flavour does pick up over time, but that doesn’t mean that the beer should be quite so empty early on.

Which reminds me, is it just me or has the abv that counts as a session beer crept up quite dramatically. I remember when anything over 3.9 percent wouldn’t qualify. Maybe I’m getting old.

So not one for a single bottle. The soft fruit becomes more pleasant and present over time but never anything really special. The finish always feels lightly floral and potpourri like. That is a style that doesn’t often sit well with me and here it really doesn’t invite further sips, so it is missing  a vital element for a session beer.

I wasn’t expecting a flavour bomb, but other beers have shown that you can do low abv, big flavour and still session well. Dead Pony Club comes to mind.

So, not terrible, but very disappointing for me.

Background: Picked up from Brewdog’s guest beer section, this was one of the first beers I drank on my return to the UK. Not willing to let Japan go quite so quickly though, I drank this while listening to the FLCL OST (no 1) I had brought back from Japan. As a fan, I may have made a squeal of “FLCL!” on finding it in a shop in Kyoto. I am such a geek. Anyway, the beer. I’ve mainly tried Founders Imperial Stouts before this, and they have been high quality, so I was hoping they bring that same talent to more hoppy beers.

Founders: Breakfast Stout (USA: Imperial Stout: 8.3% ABV)

Visual: Black with dashes of coffee brown head.

Nose: Real bitter coffee. Smoke. Roasted nuts. Generally quite bitter.

Body: Bitter chocolate and coffee. Smooth creamy nature. Very good texture. Slick but viscous. Chocolate fondue with toffee traces.

Finish; Dry. Coffee and milky chocolate. Nice roasted nuts and a light roasted hop character.

Conclusion: After KBS I was very happy to see this on tap.  Without the bourbon ageing you get a beer that keeps more to the chocolate and coffee with less of the flourishes, however despite that the texture really helps to sell it.  There is a great mix of slick to grip in such a way that there is no impediment to the bitter coffee coming out to play.

In nearly all ways I will say the KBS is better, as the extra ageing gave it much more room to play. This still does well, with just a hint of toffee sweetness to smooth it out. What you do get from the slightly more simple brew is a finish that never seems to end. You just get coffee floating over the tongue for a seeming eternity. For a strong beer that is a great benefit, an incentive to slow down and take your time. Which I tried to do despite the massive range of great beers that were before me at the time.

Overall an excellent Imperial Stout, in around the same area as Alesmith’s Speedway Stout in that it only suffers in comparison to the massive range some of the top Imperial Stouts have in their flavours.  Unlike Speedway this beers smoothness does a much better job of offsetting the weight and bitterness.  For such a heavy head spinning beer the texture does a great job of keeping it easy to drink.

Very good indeed.

Background: Drunk at the “House Of Brews”. An amazing place with an insane number of bottles and a great place to hang out and enjoy a few beers.  There was such a great vibe that I kept the review quite short so I had more time to talk with everyone there.  I have previously drunk KBS which is a bourbon aged version of this beer, which is a great beer so had high hopes for this on tap. According to ratebeer this is made with oats, chocolate and two types of coffee.  Thanks to everyone, staff and fellow drinkers at the House Of Brews, it made for what was one of the most fun nights of the trip. Oh, I nearly forgot Ratebeer lists this as one of its top 50 highest rated beers, which despite that charts massive Imperial Stout bias is still an impressive feat.

Founders: KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) (USA: Imperial Stout: 11.2% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black, froths coffee brown but doesn’t settle. The pouring is thick and slick.

Nose: Roasted elements and charring, lots of rich yet bitter chocolate. Figs and prunes. Slight coffee. Light vanilla influence. Coconut. Lots of dark sweet fruitiness and dried apricots. Almost sickly sweet.

Body: Smooth, chocolate and toffee. Blackcherry and cream. Chocolate ice cream. Mocha. Figs. Dries near the end.

Finish: Light charring, coffee is there but gracefully done- whilst the most lasting finish element is the coffee it never feels overpowering. Grated chocolate flakes and bourbon. chocamocha. Chocolate ice cream.

Conclusion: They really tried to pack everything into this beer, bitter chocolate, coffee traces, dark fruit, bourbon sweetness and a fantastic nose that packs in all that and more.

Of all these elements the chocolate is by far the strongest, it’s almost a chocolate coffee drink that just happens to add alcohol to the mix.

The nose is a notable exception to this as already hinted. Far from being dominated by one element it teases with coconut, fruit and more which really gets the mood right for a fine beer. Reminds me of Good King Henry Special Reserve in that way.

Top notch, after a long time deliberating I couldn’t put it in the top three Imperial Stouts(or is it four by now). Though maybe, just maybe, a direct head to head may change my mind. But for now, just behind.

Still, the only thing against it is that the main body has slightly more limited notes than the very top Imperial Stouts. Then again, that’s still a massive range.

Smooth, creamy, its very much frothy coffee textured and with a powerfully alcohol punch hidden deep below that. In a way I’m glad it such a small bottle, as it would be so easy to keep drinking this to unconsciousness.

A very impressive beer with a great finish.

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