Monday, April 21, 2014

Founders Backstage Tasting

The 2014 KBS release has come and gone already. This year bottles were dropped on different days for a little over a week, which made it very different from last year's one-day blitz.

In honor of this years KBS release, the Barons got together with some close friends and went through all 9 of the releases so far. We also did 5 years of Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) and 3 years of Backwoods Bastard. It was an epic night from Founders Brewing.

For the last 3 years Founders Brewing Company out of Grand Rapids, MI has been bottling limited release experimental beers called their Backstage Series. They all have big flavor, high alcohol content, and really interesting ingredients. They are a beer geek's white whale. We haven't been great about reviewing all of them, but we did get to their Barrel Aged Double IPA, Doom.

There is nothing better than having awesome friends that share a passion as much as you do. Our tasting group is made up of some outstanding traders who get their hands on some of the most impressive beers out there. When we're able to combine our powers there isn't much we can't put together and this night was proof.

My favorites from this tasting were: Blushing Monk, Frangelic Mountain Brown and Doom (although it was closer to a hopped up barleywine like Behemoth by FFF).

Blushing Monk was the first of the Backstage beers to be bottled and distributed. It came out almost 3 years ago, and that was well before I got into trading etc, so it was one I had never tried. It was very impressive. It reminded me of an imperial version of Rubaeus, their seasonal raspberry beer. It poured out a beautiful ruby color with a little off-white head. It had big raspberry aroma with just a little bit of boozy heat. After 3 years there was still barely any oxidation. The beer was thick, sweet, and boozy in all the right ways. There was tons of berry sweetness with an excellent tart finish.

This was the kind of tasting where you have a tough time deciding what the best beers really were. All the backstage beers were impressive in their own ways, so it was an epic evening all around.

Kevin: This was a great event.  It was fun to go through each beer in the order of their release. Blushing Monk was by far the best beer of the series at this point. Interestingly, Founders only uses one strain of yeast for every beer they make. Blushing Monk is the only beer they have made that doesn't use the house yeast. Take that for what it's worth. Easily the best of the night.

It's also sad to have experienced the death of CBS. When fresh it was a massive coffee stout with loads of maple, chocolate, and bourbon. A glorious beer. It's dead now. Oxidized and tasting of barrel tannins with just a touch of maple. It bordered on unpleasant. A good example of a beer that should have been consumed when fresh. 

The surprise of the night for me was Doom. The hops had faded away a bit but it was crisp, clean, and still had a tiny hop bite that balanced the malt and bourbon goodness. I actually wouldn't mind having another. I also enjoyed Frangelic Mountain Brown. It wasn't as sweet as it was fresh and seemed to be holding together nicely. 

One suggestion if you have these bottles. Drink them. Founders says that the majority of their beers should be consumed freshly. This series is proof of that. None of them were better than when they were young.  I wouldn't advocate trading them either unless you clearly tell the person you are trading with that the beer is clearly past it's prime. Also, stop trying to trade for them...except Blushing Monk. 

Tastings like these are once in a lifetime. Was a great experience. But I learned my lesson. With every Backstage release moving forward I will definitely not let them sit around.

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