Last month, one of my favorite local bars, Calhoun Soups, Salads, and Spirits (CS3), had a tap takeover where all 16 taps had delicious Founders beer pouring through them. Among the offerings were the incredibly rare Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Backwoods Bastard, and new offerings such as Blushing Monk, ReDANKulous, and Mosaic Promise.
I’ll admit that I probably had a little too much to drink while there in an effort to try as many of their beers as I possibly could but still managed to sneak in two reviews which you will find below. I had every intention of reviewing Blushing Monk but ran into a friend and finished the brew before I could even write a single word. But hey, conversations about Mark Kozelek and obscure post rock seemed way more important at the time than writing a few words about the incredibly delicious and complex Blushing Monk. So readers and beer lovers, I can only give you my word that Blushing Monk is a brew you must try before the end of the year especially if you are a fan of rasberries, Belgians, and high gravity brews that barely taste more like wine that beer. Also, I had just read this morning that Founders is preparing their release of this years Backwoods Bastard. If you find this anywhere, buy it, try it, and tell me how you’ve never had anything quite like it.
Before I jump right into the reviews, I wanted to take the time to tell you all that you must absolutely try all of the beers that Founders has to offer. I consider myself a bit of a beer snob and I honestly cannot think of any brewery that makes brews as good and as consistent as Founders. Whether you are looking for something light and easily drinkable or something to make you track of time and space, Founders has a beer to offer you. Among my personal favorites are:
- Breakfast Stout: a high gravity stout that is brewed with coffee and chocolate and seriously tastes as good as it sounds. This one has so much to offer and you simply need to try it.
- Devil Dancer: Founders take on a triple IPA that has almost no hop bitterness but is, instead, filled with so much citrus, grapefruit, and clean hop flavor.
- Porter: my family laughed at me once for pouring this rich, chocolate porter on top of ice cream. It is seriously that good. While sweet, it has just the right amount of bitter, coffee bite.
- All Day IPA / Centennial IPA: the former is their session IPA that has very little bitterness and the latter is the bitter cousin that doesn’t completely destroy your pallet. Both are excellent offerings in the IPA saturated craft beer market.
- Dirty Bastard: the scotch ale that got me started on scotch ales. This is the formula that all breweries should try and replicate. It has all the qualities that make this style so great.
Also, if you happen to find yourself in the Grand Rapids area, you must visit their brewery. About five years ago, I went on a Michigan brewery trip with a friend of mine. We visited Short’s Brewing (you must try their key lime pie beer), Right Brain Brewing, Bell’s, and a few more that escape my memory at the time of this writing. On the way home and after feeling we had our pallets thoroughly wrecked and our taste in beer swelling with pompous pride, we took the long way home and made our way to Founders. Not surprisingly, it was everything we had hoped for and was, quite possibly, the best brewery we visited during our week long trip. Among the unique offerings they had on our visit was one of the first batches of Devil Dancer and a stout aged in whiskey barrels in which the barrels were also used for aging maple syrup. If that doesn’t convince you to pay them a visit, I also give my seal of approval on their food offerings. So who wants to join me in my next trip to Founders?
Now that I’ve convinced you that Founders is the greatest brewery in the Midwest, let me take the time to review two of their legendary brews that many beer drinkers spend too much time and money trying to try.
Kentucky Breakfast Stout
Style: Imperial Stout
5.0 / 5.0
Look: 5.0 | Smell: 5.0 | Taste: 5.0 | Feel: 5.0 | Overall: 5.0
Look: Pours black as night with great tan, foamy head. Beautiful brown lacing sticks to the glass with each sip. In short, this is a looker of a brew.
Smell: KBS has a strong smell of bourbon, oak, chocolate and vanilla with a boozy presence that doesn’t overpower its sublties. If this were a cologne, I would wear the hell out of it.
Taste: KBS has a huge malty bourbon hit that warms to flavors of oak, vanilla, dates, and chocolate. The high ABV gives it a long flavor that lingers into the subtle Bourbon characteristics of rye and sweet oak flavor before settling back to its coffee and chocolate stout components. This brew is just unreal. One of the best beers I’ve ever had.
Moutfeel: KBS has a huge malty body that swims the pallet. The taste feels so thick that you could stand a stick in it. It has very low carbonation and is almost still. Because of this, it almost has the consistency of chocolate syrup. The high ABV does have a strong burn but isn’t overwhelming. The burn only accentuates the bourbon aging taste and complements the taste.
Overall: The only bad thing about this brew is that it often sells out before it can reach a wide audience. So if you see it at the liquor store or your local brew pub has it on draft, don’t hesitate at its usually high cost. This is a brew that absolutely must be experienced. I cannot think of many brews that I would give a perfect score and this one is definitely deserving of its ranking near the very top of all the beers I have ever tried.
Style: Imperial Red IPA
4.5 / 5.0
Look: 5.0 | Smell: 4.0 | Taste: 5.0 | Feel: 4.0 | Overall: 4.3
Look: ReDANKulous pours a red orange color with milky white head that is perfectly carbonated. This beer is a looker. Looks more like a red ale than an IPA. Truly a beauty to photograph.
Smell: This brew smells of grapefruit, lemon, and other citrus flavors with no boozy smell despite its high ABV. A smidge weak in smell but, even though the name might be influencing my nose, I do smell some beautiful skunky dank.
Taste: It is so, so good. Beautifully balanced hops are settled by the earthiness of its red ale qualities. Starts with a subtle blood orange taste that ruptures into bitter grapefruit, vanilla, and bready rye. The red ale spice provides a final punch at the end of the first sip that eliminates the usually intense hop qualities and reminds you of its high ABV and the fact that this isn’t a traditional red or IPA. Most red IPAs don’t have such subtle hop qualities that are balanced by great red ale taste. Truly a unique brew.
Moutfeel: ReDANKulous feels great. While it is a bitter beer, the balance is refined. It wallops you with its intensity and settles into something ridiculously drinkable. It’s a sipper beer with not a lot of malt given its style. The hops last a long time but aren’t drying in their intensity.
Overall: While it hasn’t been announced whether this is a one-off brew or if Founders will be making this a seasonal, ReDANKulous is yet another Founders brew you absolutely must experience. I would strongly recommend this to fans of traditional red ales and those that are looking for the next great thing in IPAs. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I ordered this pint and am still regretting not going back in time to order another one.
Before I end this entry, I wanted to give a big thank you to CS3 for putting on an event like this and offering fair prices on all of the brews they had available. If you live in the area or are visiting Fort Wayne soon, I highly recommend you give them a visit. In fact, watch this space. In the next few months, we plan on launching a portion of this blog where we will be reviewing some of our favorite local establishments. Until then, keep drinking beer.