There is a big difference between a pain to get in your area and impossible to get in your area. Living on the east coast you know it is going to be nearly impossible to find certain things. I can’t find Deschutes, 3 Floyds, or Russian River. Of course there are countless other items that are hard to find in this area, but those are a few of the big ones for sure. Hard to find in this area is a much different challenge for sure. I can’t even list the amount of times I’ve had to hear a beer store tell me they only got one case of something in. I’d almost rather hear that something didn’t come into the area, than the fact that they got one box in but I just missed out one it. It’s even more painful to know it was in the area but you couldn’t get it. It seems like a lot of the bigger beers that come out of Founders tend to be of the hard to get variety.
All of the beers that come out of Founders are able to be found around here, but they are not alway easy to come by. Lately Founders has been coming out with some great brews in their Backstage Series, which makes me glad I live in an area that gets their brews, but I can’t stand how hard it is to get their stuff. The first big brew I managed to get from them was their Canadian Breakfast Stout. From there I managed to miss Better Half, get Frangelic Mountain, get Boltcutter, and grab one bottle of Doom. I tried desperately to find another bottle of Doom so I could age my first bottle, but I couldn’t seem to find it anywhere. Sometimes it’s just hit or miss on finding some of these rare offerings. The Kentucky Breakfast stout was a pretty hard one to find, but you can find the regular breakfast stout anywhere. So it ultimately seems to be about who you know in terms of the local beer stores.
Barrel aging beers isn’t anything really all that new to the craft beer industry. People like to age lots of different brews in different types of barrels. I’ve enjoyed brews in all different types of barrels. I’ve had beers in oak barrels, steel barrels, wine barrels, brandy barrels, bourbon barrels, whiskey barrels, and tequila barrels. Ultimately each one has added some different aspect to the beer flavor. I had a tripel in pinot gris barrels that was amazing and more than enough stouts in bourbon barrels that are all great. This, however, is the first time I’ve had an IPA aged in bourbon barrels. I’m not certain Founders is the first one to try this, since I have a few others in my collection right now, but I was very interested to see how it worked out. Founders creates some really great beers, so I was hopeful they would set the precedent for the rest of the breweries out there.
As I’m sure you can see from the picture, this beer pours a rather bright orange color. I wouldn’t call it a neon orange because it does have somewhat darker tones to it. It’s almost visibly tangy. There is some very light white head that develops. This was equally surprising to the brighter color. I figured time aging in the bourbon barrels would mean both darker beer and darker head. The beer has some pretty good clarity, which means you can see some very small floaters and the occasional evidence of visible carbonation as well. Overall the beer has some pretty good lacing and quite a bit of sticky lacing.
Picking up a bourbon barrel aged double IPA, you have to figure the aroma will be dominated by one of two things: hops or barrel. I can safely say that the bourbon barrel wins. I’m not sure of the entire process on this bottle. Someone said that they make the beer, age it, and then dry hop it after that. Maybe that is true; I just don’t know. Anyway, you get a very distinct oaky woodiness on the nose from the barrels. The hops seem quite muted on the nose. I would have to assume this is all due to the aging process. There is definitely some vanilla in there somewhere as well. The maltiness seems to win in the end, while the hops hide. There is only a very slight lingering pine scent.
The flavors start with a mostly malt intro. The malts have a very distinct tangy citrus quality to them. The pine is very slightly there in the middle, but it really doesn’t take center stage. The one distinct quality that traverses start to finish of the flavor profile is the booziness and oak qualities; however, both of these flavors really kick it up in the second half of the brew. Interestingly the booziness takes a somewhat tangy turn near the end, which I would blame on the eventual influence of the hops in the brew. The beer finishes with some slight pleasant vanilla notes.
Overall I would say the mouth of this beer is rather thick and slightly syrupy. There is enough carbonation there to do some balancing, but it has a quite heavy body overall. Between the overall thickness, big booze, and slight alcohol burn, this beer doesn’t let you forget you’ve got a big beer in your hand.
I am a huge IPA fan, and I’m also a pretty big barrel aged fan as well. Therefore, I was quite interested to see what happened when those two worlds collided. I wouldn’t say it’s something everybody should start doing, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. Founder’s let me down a little bit with Frangelic Mountain and Boltcutter. Frangelic tasted rather artificial and Boltcutter was way too sweet. This one is definitely back on the right track. Unfortunately for most of you, you’ll probably have a tough time picking it up. I’d be surprised to find a single bottle hanging around a store’s shelf somewhere.
Teacher Grade: B+