Founders Bolt Cutter

Tasting: December 4, 2012
Style: Barleywine

Bolt Cutter

Founders Backstage series bolt cutter (c)2012 popsonhops

As a part of Founders’ fifteenth anniversary, owners Mike Stevens and Dan Engbers hosted an on-line chat. One of the interesting things they revealed was how the company came to be named Founders. Here’s the excerpt — “The company was originally named Canal Street Brewing Co. The original labels where a bit rough. we had a picture of some of the original brewers from Grand Rapids depicted on the label. We put the word Founders on this label in honor of these original brewers. As time went on people called us Founders, rather than Canal Street Brewing. After a few years into it we started calling ourselves Founders as well. Not brilliant by design, but it ended up working.”

Another interesting snippet worth sharing is the background of the name of this beer. On their website, they describe the early days of the brewery when they made “unremarkable” beer and were on the fast track to bankruptcy. In the face of having their dream padlocked, they shifted course to brewing the kind of beer that got them excited to start brewing in the first place — big, “in your face” brews. This milestone brew, recognizes the distant memory of those early struggles and celebrates the triumph of reaching the summit of the craft beer world.

This one is also a milestone for me as well. This is the 400th beer that I’ve added to my craft beer diary. That’s 400 different beers since November 3, 2010 (or about 760 days). A quick refresher on popsonhops. Three dads with young kids that share a love of craft beer — hence the play on words with the famous kid’s book title. In the beginning, we would exchange new beers and share our experiences via this website. John and Craig aren’t much for writing – I enjoy it — so by default, I’m the voice of pops on hops. Do I have a goal? Maybe 500 — we’ll see. I’m still enthusiastic and Google tells me that more and more people are seeing my entries each month.

This one is a mega-barley wine — 15% ABV. I suspect that some age would probably serve something with such a high alcohol content, so luckily I have a second bottle stashed for drinking a couple of years from now. This is the 5th entry in Founders’ Back Stage Series. This series are based on their Michigan brew pub favorites. There is Blushing Monk, Canadian Breakfast Stout, Curmudgeon’s Better Half and Frangelic Mountain Brown. I’ve had each beer in the series and with the exception of Blushing Monk – I have a bottle in my cellar 😉

Caramel sweet nose wafting from a copper colored body with no head whatsoever. First sip and I get a wave of caramel, raisin, oak, vanilla and some fresh hop resin that reminds me quite a bit of Devil Dancer. For a barley wine with 15% ABV – the booze is evident and only presents a moderate heat and ethers. It really works well operating under the rich sweetness, thick syrupy mouthfeel and complex secondary flavors. I’m certain that some age on this barley wine will really enhance an already awesome experience. This is an all night sipper. 95 points.

Read about Back Stage Series # 1 – Blushing Monk HERE
Read about Back Stage Series # 2 – Canadian Breakfast Stout HERE
Read about Back Stage Series # 3 – Curmudgeon’s Better Half HERE
Read about Back Stage Series # 4 – Frangelic Mountain Brown HERE

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