Friday, November 12, 2010

Finding Founders

A friend recently turned me onto Founders Breakfast Stout, a wonderful dark ale full of roasted coffee and chocolate, malt and a slight bitter finish. Awesome! This beer comes from Founders Brewery out of Grand Rapids MI and I have to say, they are doing most things right. Last night I attended a beer and food pairing at a local restaurant and they featured Founders selections with a 5 course meal. It was superbly done. On arrival, they gave each of us a Dry Hopped Pale Ale to start with that had a grapefruit and moderate hop profile. For dinner, the first course was a seafood salad with mint blood orange vinaigrette paired with a Harvest Ale which I found to be similar to the Pale Ale but more assertive; lots of grapefruit on entry and more hop. Next up a Tomato and smoke Gouda soup with Berkshire Ham and Wisconsin Gruyere on a toasted marble rye and this was paired with Red Rye P.A. Now, I'll tell you that my beer preference tends to run toward Belgian style dark ales, low in hop and carbonation so this Rye P.A. was on the opposite end of the beer spectrum for me. The color was a noticeable red/amber hue and the flavor surprised me. While it was a hoppy beer, it was well balanced with a fruity quality that I actually enjoyed. I'm not sure I would sit and drink the Rye P.A. on a regular basis but paired with the soup and sandwich, it was quite nice. Third course consisted of a tenderized pork tenderloin (Pork Involtino) stuffed with cheese and spinach with oven baked sweet potato fries. This was paired with two selections; Dirty Bastard and Backwoods Bastard. The Dirty Bastard is a Scottish ale and reminded me of the Breakfast Stout but less coffee and less chocolate. It was very good……but when I tried the Backwoods Bastard, I quickly forgot about ole' Dirty Bastard. The Backwoods is Dirty aged in used Heaven Hill bourbon barrels that are stored underground in a defunct Gypsum mine for approximately 7 months. This one blew me away. The nose was reminiscent of an Almond Joy candy bar; caramel, coconut and mocha with a malty mouthfeel and a slight bitter finish. Superb all the way and needless to say, my glass was empty pretty quick. The fourth course was a Curmudgeon Beef Bourguignon with an Asiago Palenta paired with Old Curmudgeon. This beer is brewed with Molasses and barrel aged. It was good but at this point, I was starting to feel the effects of 6 beers and we still had two to go. Last up, dessert which was a warm chocolate bread pudding with mocha sauce paired with the Breakfast Stout. I won't put into words how to describe this beer, I'll let Founders do it for me "The coffee lover's consummate beer. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, and Sumatra and Kona coffee, this stout has an intense fresh roasted java nose topped with a frothy, cinnamon-colored head that goes forever." 'Nuf said. As a parting "gift", they gave us some Cerise which is a tart cherry ale. I could have done without this one and left it behind, quite satisfied with the previous selections. If you're not familiar with Founders, get familiar. They're making some very creative and delicious brews that fully satisfy the most astute palate.


  1. I discovered their Oatmeal Breakfast Stout and was blown away.

    I have some Backwoods Bastard at home ready to go against my Skull Splitter. Dirty Bastard is hard to find. I also have the Centennial ready to go against another favorite IPA.

    Actually when I picked up the Backwoods during lunch time, I went back to the store 4-5 hours later and all of the Backwoods was GONE!

    Popular stuff!!

  2. Ethan - my favorite to date is the Backwoods. Not overly woody with a good balance of bourbon influence. I had to drive to multiple stores over the course of a week just to bunker down four 4-packs. Founders only releases a 1,000 cases a year so distribution is limited. Even the big retailers like Total Wine get 1 case.

  3. May I suggest the Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout aka KBS. Its the breakfast stout aged in bourbon barrels. Unbelievable.

  4. I've been on the lookout but Founder's isn't very widespread in my area. If I see it I plan on picking some up. Thanks.

  5. I finally finished comparing the Backwoods to Dirty, it isn't even close. I wasn't even that impressed with Dirty Bastard.

    Now I'd REALLY like to get my hands on some KBS but I NEVER have seen it down here. :)

    Always on the hunt for good drink!

  6. Ethan - as I stated above, Backwoods and Dirty are the same brew just aged differently. Another one you should look for is Southern Tier Mokah and Choklat. The holy grail though would be to find some Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. It's not available here in NOVA but the website does indicate it can be found in DC proper.