Founders Curmudgeon’s Better Half, originally the third release in the brewery’s Backstage Series, returns in August.
The grumpy “Curmudgeon” on the label is best known for appearances on hiatus old ale by the same name. In February 2012, the brewery released Curmudgeon’s Better Half as a part of their Backstage Series, now known as the Barrel-Aged Series.
Curmudgeon’s Better Half is the familiar old ale brewed with molasses and aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels. (Similar to Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout.) Fan demand prompted the return of this boozy treat.
Six years later, how is it? Let’s take it back to December. Christmas saw the return of another legendary beer in Founders lineup – Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS). The fans clamored and traded for it like it would cure cancer. The reviews ended up being a little mixed, and here’s our theory why. It’s been a quite a while since the last release, and so many barrel-aged beers have come and gone in that time span. Folks built it up in their minds over the years to a level CBS couldn’t achieve, no matter how good it actually was.
Curmudgeon’s Better Half was pretty great in our opinion six years ago and really hasn’t been subjected to this mental buildup over the past half decade. We never thought we’d see it again. With the first sip, we are instantly reminded of the subtle beauty of this beer. There aren’t a lot of old ales running around breweries these days. The original Curmudgeon was brewed with molasses and had a touch of sweetness that mixes with hints of brown sugar and caramel. This version aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels didn’t throw “Better Half” over the top. Each sip is a subtle symphony of vanilla oak, sweet maple, caramel malt, with a finishing alcoholic heat and lingering sweetness. A slow sipper after dinner, or in a rocking chair on a porch as the sunsets. Our love affair was rekindled immediately.
Every year, the brewery plans to bring new creations to their coveted Barrel-Aged Series, but a few releases from the past beg to be re-released. Founders fans have been begging for Curmudgeon’s Better Half to return since it’s release 6 years ago. “This was a beer that needed to get back into the rotation,” says Barrel Maestro, Jason Heystek.
Founders Curmudgeon’s Better Half will make its return starting August 24th in the new 12-ounce bottle format, 750-milliliter bottles, as well as draft.
12.7% ABV, 35 IBUs
Founders reDANKulous Imperial Red IPA, once the 13th offering in the brewery’s “Backstage Series”, returns in mid-June.
The imperial IPA is billed as a “no-frills” offering, hopped with Chinook, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops. Just calling it “hoppy” is an understatement.
It pours a pleasing burnt amber with some sweetness due to the Caramalt and roasted barley used in the malt bill. But hops are the true headliner in this elaborate sensory experience. The spicy, piney, tropical complexities of Chinook, Mosaic and Simcoe hops hit you right away with their dank aroma—and they stick around.
Founders reDANKulous Imperial Red IPA was bottled again the last week of May. Look for it across the brewery’s distribution footprint in June, in 12 ounce bottles and draft.
Style: Imperial IPA
Hops: Chinook, Mosaic, and Simcoe
Availability: 12oz Bottles, Draft. June- Sept
Latest Return: June, 2017
Founders Doom, the brewery’s barrel-aged imperial IPA, will be available once again in May.
Doom is based off another beer dubbed – Hand of Doom that has made appearances in the Founder’s taproom in the past. 2013 was the first (and only) time this beer was bottled; part of the brewery’s Backstage Series. Founders takes their imperial IPA Double Trouble and aged in oak bourbon barrels.
Doom may be impending but that doesn’t mean you have to fear it. A collision of worlds, the intense hop character of our imperial IPA mingles with the warm vanilla and oak notes imparted from time spent in our favorite bourbon barrels. Like all good things, Doom comes to those who wait.
New for 2017, Founders Doom will be available in 12 ounce bottles for the first time, as well as the well-known 750 milliliter bottles. The brewery has set a street date of May 12th.
This summer, look for Founders DKML, a barrel-aged malt liquor to join the Barrel-Aged Series.
Read more: Backstage Series
Founders Mango Magnifico con Calor [Magnificent Mango with Heat], will be reintroduced to the brewery’s Backstage Series in March, 2016.
This release marks the 15th entry in the series (last time it was released, it was the 7th). Founders Mango Magnifico is brewed with mango and habanero peppers.
Not a traditional fruit beer, the delicate tropical fruit in Mango Magnifico is punctuated by a hint of heat, increasing the overall depth of flavor and adding another level of complexity. A refreshing drink for the warm summer months.
Founders Mango Magnifico will be a draft, and 750 milliliter bottle offering in March, 2016.
Read more: Founder’s Backstage Series. Image via Founders Brewing Co.
Founders Project PAM is a black IPA, aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels. (Sound familiar? Looking at you, Sweet Repute.)
In development under a shroud of secrecy for years, Project PAM is brewed with an abundance of hops including, Chinook, Nugget, Centennial, Amarillo, El Dorado and Mosaic. It’s balanced with Crystal and Midnight Wheat malts and finally aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels to add complex oaky bourbon notes and the sweetness of maple syrup. Project PAM clocks in at 10.8% ABV.
What’s in a name? The brewery maintains it’s a mystery, but it has to do with the cellar barrel coding. The label features Jason Heystek, the head of Founders’ barrel program.
Taste. Founders Project PAM is bold, perhaps even a a battle between the black IPA and the maple syrup bourbon barrels this beer is aged in. We’ve already been asked a few times after posting this above pic to our social media – should they drink it, or age it. Our answer is always, drink now. This beer as you can buy in in December, 2015 is how the brewery intended it. drink it now.
Founders Project PAM is available in 750 milliliter bottles, and draft.
Style: Imperial Black IPA (w/ Maple Syrup. Barrel Aged. Bourbon.)
Hops: Chinook, Nugget, Centennial, Amarillo, El Dorado, Mosaic
Availability: 750ml Bottles, Draft. Limited.
Release: 11/20/15 (Distribution shortly after)
Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, MI) has re-released Blushing Monk. The beer was last released in July, 2011.
Founder’s Blushing Monk is a Belgian raspberry beer, that tops out 9.2% ABV
“People keep asking us if we’re going to bring any of our Backstage Series beers back—and now we have,” said Co-Founder and President Dave Engbers. “It seems as though we brew Blushing Monk on a four-year cycle. Our cellar crew hates brewing it because it’s brewed with a different yeast strain from all of our other beers, but we think it’s worth the sleepless nights. It’s an absolutely gorgeous beer.”
Founders Blushing Monk is the 12th release in the Backstage Series. Release #11, Big Lushious, rounded out the Backstage Series in 2014
Check out Beer Street Journal’s Backstage Series flashback.
In a little over a week, Founders Brewing Co. will release their first Backstage Series offering of 2015, Blushing Monk. The release marks the first time the brewery has re-brewed a Backstage offering.
On the eve of Blushing Monk’s return, now is a good time to look back over the series.
Founder’s launched the Backstage Series with Blushing Monk, a Belgian-style raspberry ale back in July of 2011. The 750ml bottles were born into the lineup as a part of the the brewery’s expansion from 28,000 barrels to 50,000+ barrels. (1 barrel= 31 gallons.)
The second release was a doozy, a beer that has appeared in bottles just once, and sells out almost instantly on draft – Canadian Breakfast Stout. The coffee, chocolate, maple syrup, bourbon barrel imperial stout is still the beer geek equivalent of the Bat Signal. Tap that beer, and folks will walk out of surgery for a glass. (Here comes the “over rated” comments below.)
Since then, Founders has brewed a boozier cousin to Old Curmudgeon, Curmudgeon’s Better Half, Bolt Cutter Barleywine (for their birthday), took a page out of the Nemesis Series playbook, even brewed a fantastic lager that unfortunately was the slowest selling beer in the Backstage Series.
Next week we find ourselves right were we started a few years ago with our glasses full of raspberries. It’s been a fun, boozy ride. By the looks of things, Founders is just getting started.
Click the images below to the gallery.