Founders Brewing was founded 15 years ago by Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers. The duo both had non-beer, business, and undoubtedly boring jobs. Beer was their calling. After nearly going bankrupt making some “unremarkable” beers, they decided to make beer for themselves. Basically, what they want to drink – not everyone else.
They’ve come a long way in 15 years! In 2012, a few of their beers are ranked among the best on planet earth. RateBeer.com ranks Founders #2 in the world. Not bad right? In true beer fashion, the brewery is planning a special anniversary release. That’s Bolt Cutter pictured above. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to go ahead and assume the name is an allusion to “cutting the chain” on ordinary beer. It’s a big one too – 15%. That’s puts some limitations on what states Founders can ship it to. (I’m looking at you Georgia.)
Availability: 750ml bottles
Part of what makes Founders Backstage Series so much fun is the period of speculation before the next release is announced. But the purpose of the series is to bring some of our most sought-after beers, which have been available primarily in the taproom and at a few select events, to a much larger audience. Frangelic Mountain Brown will be the fourth release in the series, joining Blushing Monk and Canadian Breakfast Stout from 2011 and Curmudgeon’s Better Half, which was released in February of this year.
Frangelic Mountain Brown is the quintessential taproom “one-off” beer: Founders’ brewers created the Mountain Brown series for their taproom in Grand Rapids in 2007. Frangelic Mountain Brown is the 16th iteration in the series of popular brown ales–and it likely won’t be the last. The singular characteristic of this beer comes from the use of hazelnut coffees in the brewing process. The beer has distinct aromatics with sweet and nutty flavors beautifully balanced. Founders is known for its beers made with coffee (i.e., the Breakfast Stout series), but this is both the brewery’s first brown ale and its first beer brewed with hazelnut coffees to be bottled. It clocks in at 9% ABV.
“The goal of the Backstage Series is to allow those beer enthusiasts who don’t have the ability to make it to our taproom an opportunity to experience some of the beers that, historically, have been limited to our taproom and a handful of high exposure events,” Engbers said. “Although these beers are not brewed in large volume, it is our intention to distribute them to all of our markets.”
While there will not be an official release party for Frangelic Mountain Brown at the brewery’s taproom in Grand Rapids, the beer will be available on draft in the taproom beginning Monday, July 2. The focus of bottle sales will be in Founders’ distribution footprint.
The next beer to be released in the series later this year will be a celebration of the brewery’s fifteenth anniversary, though the beer’s style is yet-to-be revealed. The release party for this beer in November will be Founders’ first to require advance tickets. The KBS release party in spring of 2013 is expected to be an even larger festival-type event—be on the lookout for more detail to come.
Founder’s Brewing’s newest Backstage Series installment goes on sale today. (About an hour from now.) Curmudgeon’s Better Half is a beer formerly known as Kaiser’s Curmudgeon. We’re talking old ale brewed with molasses, aged 254 days in bourbon barrels that were recently used for aging maple syrup.
The Founder’s tap room will feature 750ml bottles of Better Half for $17 dollars a piece. After today, a limited amount of Better Half will ship to Founder’s markets for beer geeks to fight over.
Lots of Better Half & 750’s of Bell’s Black Note. That’s $140 worth of Better Half. Pic via Mike Tinnon
We feel that it’s necessary to address a few of the concerns surrounding the release of our Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS). We understand the frustrations stemming from the lack of availability of this beer and are looking forward to the day when we can produce much more of our specialty brands. As some of you are aware, we have been undergoing constant expansion for the past few years and have been working toward a master plan that will increase our annual brewing capacity by four times our current level. We are happy as hell to share that our new brewhouse is now on line and that we just recently started brewing into the new system. We plan to use this new system in 2012 to increase production of our specialty items to better service the demand for them. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the next couple of 750ml (Backstage Series) releases as well as the 2012 KBS release will still be scarce, because these beers were brewed on the old (smaller) system. But after that we should be off and running toward much greater availability.
On another note, there seems to be some concern or confusion on how are beers are allocated per state. We are proud to be a Michigan-based brewery and all specialty releases take this into consideration. We at Founders will never forget our home state market. In terms of CBS, the state of Michigan received an allocation of 21% of the entire batch of CBS. No other state saw more than 12% of the total availability. That being said, no state is treated more fairly than another (including MI). Distributor allocations are simply based on a representation of total number of accounts they represent for Founders. Should rumors of this exist to the contrary, know that they are just that: rumors.
Lastly, we’ve noticed that retail price gouging is also being discussed. I can only give you the brewery’s position on this, but please know that, legally, once we sell our products to our wholesaler, they in turn sell it to retailers throughout our states of distribution. We have no control over what this retailer will charge for the beer. We do establish our suggested retail pricing, but we cannot enforce this whatsoever. When we hear of retail price gouging, it annoys us as much as it annoys you. Our recommendation to our wholesalers in dealing with retailers that are gouging is to communicate that, if the retailer does not stop overcharging, they will jeopardize their ability to receive Founders specialty items in the future.
In short, we just want to set the record straight on these few items floating around on the blogs and make everyone aware that we are working day and night to fix the capacity concerns with our specialty products. We make this beer because we are extremely passionate about creating the best liquid we know how to produce. We started this business as home brewers and still look at ourselves as such. We know that some of you might never get your chance at a CBS bottle, but we feel it would be a greater disappointment to have never shared this product at all.
Mike Stevens | President & CEO, Founder’s Brewing
Ok, so probably not. However, I’d bet you 10 bucks there were a lot of beards in that line. The big talk post GABF medals right now in the beer world is Founder’s Canadian Breakfast Stout hitting bottles for the first time EVER. On October 1st, the brewery held a release party for the coveted beer. An intrepid photographer climbed up to the roof and took this picture of the line. People hate good beer dont’ they? [FoundersBrewing]