Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Best of 2009: #9

Founders Curmudgeon Old Ale

Brewery: Founders, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Style: Old Ale

ABV: 9.8%

Rating: 4.5 stars

This is a repeat review from late March '09, so instead of trying to recreate that review cold, I'm simply going to repost the original. Lazy I know, but I like how the words spilled out in the original.

The appearance is akin to the most pleasing barleywines; ruby turning to magenta to caramel. Not much head, and none of it lasts. When I swirl the glass, it rocks and relaxes quickly, and doesn't seem like it will coat my mouth so my dinner winds up with a curmudgeonly aftertaste.

It's a bully of a sniffer. I dove in a half dozen times and each time found another layer. It's geekily layered; a Sufjan Stevens tune and a David Lynch flick. (Side note: you see what happens when I realize I'm no good at picking out specifics in a beer. I resort to wild metaphors and pointless side notes.) I'll try. There's brandy. Port wine. Obvious alcohol presence indeed. Sweet, intensely sweet, and more than just the clumped-together dark fruits and caramel. It smells stiff and warm, but has the life that a big stout might not.

I hoped the taste would recall memories of Bell's Third Coast Old Ale, and it does. It's just a beauty of a beer. Barleywine-ish? Yes, but this Old Ale business makes it sound so much more majestic and regal. The caramel (word of the review) stick is there, and it gets better as the beer gets warmer. Beer drinking for dummies advice of the day: let the beer warm. Drinking a beer at different temperatures is revealing and rewarding. There's the alcoholic surge that must exist in a nearly 10% beer, but it's delicately disguised. I feel it, know it's there, but can't find it. It passes the chug test, too. Drinking this one sip to sip is great, but a giant swallow doesn't overwhelm.

So easy to drink, this one. I planned on it lasting me through dinner, and it would serve as a wonderful dessert drink, but I don't think it will make it to either. Luckily, I've got a Fuller's Vintage I think I might pop tonight as well. Not sure what it is about this old ales; it's the combination of potency, drinkability and mystique that has me ball and chain. This one is dragging me.

January 2010 edit: Didn't have the '08 Fuller's Vintage Ale that night, but had it New Year's Day this year. Equally outstanding. Perhaps a review soon.

1 comment:

Derek said...

I got one of these for Christmas, can't wait to try it now.

BTW, a bunch of us Twin City beer bloggers are getting together. Would you like me to send you the invite? shoot me an email. derek (at) lutherpublichouse dot com.