We’ve received gifts from breweries a precious few times in our blogging (and now booking) career, and getting a free case of ales from Founders Brewing Company felt like winning some kind of holy lottery. After purchasing Salad Daze, Founders’ new marketing wizard (Sarah) decided to send us a packet of frankinsense, myrrh and the holiest of holies: whiskey barrel aged stout. We are still over the moon about it.
Fictional Blog Reader: But wait, why is it that I can only have Founders if I have homies who’ll smuggle it back from the Midwest or engage in semi-illegal ebay situations? Isn’t Kentucky Breakfast stout, like, illegal? Does this mean that Founders is coming to California?!
Us: Well friend, its cool that you defy federalism, yes – selling beer across state lines in the mail is illegal, but you can skirt it!
We like to think that the (legal) liquid missive we received from the Midwest is the precursor to an ale based land-bridge that we will singlehandedly help to build.
Sadly, we can’t buy Founders in California. Yet. Founders is kinda like the Stone Brewing for the rest of the country, in that they’re a larger micro brewery making beers that don’t appeal to the meek mouth’d. Unlike the Southern Lords, Founders growth has not included rapid country-wide expansion and while we’re bummed that there’s a void on our side, we deeply respect the concept of intentionally limited expansion. Think of them as mindful imperialists.
While tasting the void – they that do not yet exist – we happened upon a new concept (that was known but unspoken until now): The “West Coast Bias.” Don’t get us wrong: these are awesome IPAs (for Michigan), there’s just a certain stack of chips on our occidental shoulders about the style that makes us skeptical of the Other. In our analysis, and in the words of Ryan Sweeney, the Founders IPAs have a particular attention to balance that places them on the Eastern side of the issue. If balance is the most problematic part of a solid beer lets not even call it a critisim – just a nod to different strokes. We’re more Black Flag than Minor Threat. Its cool.
In the end, Malts beat out Hops. We all agreed we would all have black teeth and breathing problems if the three stouts we were sent were available in our great state. The West Coast Bias gets lost in all that darkness…
Someday, somehow, Sarah – your beer will be sold here.
Breakfast stout: Clean coffee flavors jumped out of the thick darkness. We all agreed we could drink this a little too regularly if given access.
KBS: Kentucky. Breakfst. Stout. The myth maintained itself. This is widely regarded as one of the best beers in the world, and we agree. Heavy coffee stout brewed with chocolate and aged in burbon barrells for a calender year. Amazing on paper — much better in our mouth (collectively speaking — its not like we were sitting around frenching each other).
Imperial: A real head turner; this made us all question our loyalty to other Czarist style stouts. Scaring us a little, as we’ve never doubted the superiority of Rasputin…until now (quiet – he’ll HEAR us).
Nemesis: This seasonal strong ale clearly cleaved towards a Barleywine, but the flavors were much more distinct. We could all picture the harder hitting hops when the beer was “fresh” but their fading over time contributed to something special: balance. Biterness, booze and bite were all part of the deal, but they were all so tempered with eachother we almost didn’t notice the high alchohol content.
Devil Dancer: Our top pick of the IPAs—devil dancer tasted exactly like those strawberry candies wrapped in strawberry looking wrappers. Sacerine but not too much so, the familiar flavors of giant IPA gone awry were thankfully absent. No wet dog, no grain alchochol, but also not as much specificity as we would’ve liked.
Double Trouble: A resoundingly balanced Imperial IPA where cereal, weed, citrus, and a distinct lady underarm funk all played almost too nicely together. Clearly perfection is nothing to complain about – this beer is pretty fucking awesome – but this specimen sparked the discovery of the West Coast Bias.
Centenial: the key to this little bruiser is the lack of filtration. The oily mouth feel of unmitigated dryhopping was awesome and made a lasting impression during the whole tasting. A solid, funky, mouthfeel.