Tasting Notes: Underground Mountain Brown from Founders Brewing Co.

FoundersUndergroundPourFor this edition of Tasting Notes, we journey deep down into the depths of a bottle of Underground Mountain Brown from Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Michigan).

Released in mid-August as the current installment in Founders Brewing Co.’s Barrel-Aged Series, Underground Mountain (previously introduced as a taproom-exclusive by the name of Barrel-Aged Sumatra Mountain) is an Imperial Brown Ale that has been brewed with Sumatra coffee – roasted in Grand Rapids by Ferris Coffee & Nut – and then aged for a year in Bourbon barrels in the “caves below Grand Rapids.” Crafted to be a true “celebration of the barrel, the bean and everything in between,” Underground Mountain Brown finds harmony as the malts of the Brown Ale base “complement the bold Sumatra coffee perfectly, while time spent immersed in oak creates layers of depth and complexity.”

Underground Mountain Brown is available now and scheduled to stick around through November (as long as supplies last).  You can expect to find this Limited Release available in 4-packs of 12 oz. bottles, 750ml bottles and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Michigan and throughout the rest of Founders Brewing Co.’s nationwide distribution area.

Alrighty . . . now that we have properly covered all the particulars behind this brew, let’s get to the bottom of Underground Mountain with some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Underground Mountain Brown from Founders Brewing Co.

Appearance:  A somewhat vigorous pour produces a beer that is a heavily shadowed, dark brown in color and topped with one-and-a-half to two fingers of tan foam.  When held to direct light, cola tones easily push through at the edges while the intensely dark brown holds at the core.  Although quite dark and nearly opaque, the top portion of the pour (about a finger of area where the beer meets the head) reveals that this beer is clear and has a steady carbonation presence coursing within.  Head retention is solid, falling ever so slowly to a thick, creamy ring that drops cloud-like dollops of lace on the glass throughout the experience.

Aroma:  Deeply roasted coffee greets the nose with dark chocolate notes and a gentle dose of earthiness and nuttiness.  The barrel character then rolls in, providing notes of vanilla, oak, and straight bourbon.  Brown Ale character closes the aromatics with rich tones of caramel and molasses.

Taste:  Picking up where the aroma left off, the base beer jumps out first to offer decadent notes of caramel, brown sugar, molasses, toffee and toasted grain. This seamlessly shifts to a distinct roasted coffee presence that is beautifully earthy, nutty and chocolaty (both milk chocolate and bittersweet dark chocolate). The bourbon then builds, enrobing the entire experience in a soft layer of oak, vanilla and booze.  Everything here is incredibly smooth and cohesive.

Mouthfeel:  Medium in body with a middling carbonation level, this beer has just the right amount of weight to it to remind you that it is indeed 11.9% ABV while still maintaining a bit of that smooth, airiness you expect from a Brown Ale (this beer does not at all drink like an Imperial Stout or Barleywine and rightfully so). It is mostly sweet on the palate, but the coffee’s bitterness lends a great deal of balance and keeps things from getting cloying.  Getting back to that elevated ABV, it offers a gently building warmth in the throat and belly, but it is not at all out of hand.  The aftertaste is all toffee and bourbon.

Final Thoughts:  Elegantly composed, there is not one aggressive aspect to this beer.  It is clear that the brewing team at Founders applied all of the knowledge that they have obtained from brewing KBS year after year to Underground Mountain Brown because the coffee and bourbon barrel character are both given equal billing.

As notable as that is, probably the most impressive thing about Underground Mountain is how incredibly well it is drinking right now.  The elevated ABV is pretty tame, the barrel character is not at all aggressive, and the coffee has just the right amount of pop to it.  It is wildly smooth for a fresh barrel-aged offering, and we suggest that you do not sit on these bottles for too long (well . . . stash a couple because this beer will be an incredible pairing for those wonderfully brisk fall evenings headed our way).  It is damn near perfect at this point in time, so make sure that you drink Underground Mountain Brown now and drink it often while you have the chance.  Prost!

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Heavy Seas Beer Introduces Night Swell Dark IPA as Latest Limited Release

NightSwellCan2019Heavy Seas Beer (Baltimore, Maryland) has officially announced that it will begin the Limited Release of Night Swell Dark IPA in October 2019.

Developed to make “even the most hardened hop heads feel the pull of the darkness,” Night Swell is a Dark India Pale Ale featuring a “nor’easter blast of hoppy aromas [combining] with a warming dark roast and rich malt sweetness for a full-flavored, full-bodied IPA that stretches the boundaries of the style.” Coming in at 7.5% ABV and 71 IBUs, Night Swell advises that you “surrender to the darkness and ride the swell.”

Night Swell is scheduled to debut in October 2019 and will hang around for a limited time.  You can expect to find this new Limited Release offering available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer-focused retailers, bars and restaurants located in Alabama, Florida, Maryland and throughout the rest of Heavy Seas Beer’s distribution footprint.  Prost!

Vital Information for Night Swell Dark IPA from Heavy Seas Beer

Release – Limited; October 2019
Style – Black India Pale Ale
ABV – 7.5%
IBUs – 71
Hops – Chinook, Centennial, Citra & Simcoe
Malts – 2-Row, Amber Dark Crystal, Brown & Caramalt
Recommended Glassware – IPA glass or nonic pint
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. cans & draft
Beer Finder – http://hsbeer.com/beerfinder

Founders Brewing Co. Plans to go Year-Round with KBS & Launch KBS Espresso Variant

kbs_espresso_bottle_carrier_3-4Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Michigan) took to their Cadre Newsletter this week to announce that KBS is scheduled to return as a Year-Round in February 2020 and will be accompanied by the Limited Release of KBS Espresso.

Widely respected and highly coveted by Stout drinkers everywhere, KBS (a.k.a. Kentucky Breakfast Stout) is an Imperial Stout “brewed with a massive amount of coffee and chocolate and then bourbon barrel-aged to perfection.” Coming in at around 12% ABV, KBS offers an “incredibly silky and full-bodied” experience filled with “notes of vanilla, cocoa, roasted coffee and charred oak.”

When it returns in February 2020, KBS will join Backwoods Bastard as the second Barrel-Aged Series offering to achieve Year-Round availability.  You can expect to find KBS available in 4-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at beer establishments located throughout Founders Brewing Co.’s distribution footprint.

Arriving as the first-ever packaged variant of KBS, KBS Espresso (12% ABV) takes everything you love about the original KBS and then ages it “on espresso beans after being removed from [Bourbon] barrels.” This added step results in “a fresh and snappy coffee twist on [a] classic barrel-aged beer.”

KBS Espresso will release alongside KBS in February 2020 and will hang around for a limited time.  You can expect to find this new Limited Release available in 4-packs of 12 oz. bottles, 750ml bottles and on draft at select craft beer-friendly retailers, bars and restaurants located in Alabama, Florida, Michigan and throughout the rest of the brewery’s nationwide distribution area.  Prost!

Vital Information for KBS Espresso from Founders Brewing Co.

Release – Limited/Barrel-Aged Series; launching February 2020
Style – Imperial Stout
ABV – 12%
Treatment – Original KBS aged on espresso beans after being removed from Bourbon barrels
Availability – 4-packs of 12 oz. bottles, 750ml bottles & draft
Beer Finder – https://foundersbrewing.com/beer/find-our-beer/

 

LOKO Cuisine & Arkane Aleworks Team Up for Halloween-Themed Back in Black Eggs & Kegs Brunch

lokocuisinelogoOn Sunday, October 20 at 11 a.m., LOKO Cuisine will expose the dark side of brunch with its Back in Black Eggs & Kegs event at Arkane Aleworks (2480 E Bay Dr #23 | Largo, Florida).

Appropriately set with an ambiance filled with “rock and metal tunes”, LOKO Cuisine’s Back in Black Eggs & Kegs is ready to prove that even brunch can embrace the darkness of Halloween.  This 4-course, Halloween-themed brunch will feature the following dishes made with the darkest, blackest ingredients (served buffet-style):

LOKOBackInBlackMenu

To cover the “kegs” portion of this brunch, Arkane Aleworks will be pouring Peepers Creepers – a black marshmallow PEEPS Berliner Weisse – alongside several other Halloween-inspired beers.  If beer does not happen to be your thing, fear not because Ginger Beard Coffee will also be on-site to pour up some delicious nitro coffee and tea.

Tickets for the Back in Black Eggs & Kegs Brunch are available now for $34 each, and you can purchase yours by clicking here. Ticket cost includes the four-course brunch and one draft beer, coffee or tea. Physical tickets will not be issued, but your name will be added to a paid list once the purchase process is completed. FYI: Everyone in your party will have to check in under the purchaser’s name at the door.

If you are the kind of person that looks for any excuse to get a head start on Halloween, you might as well start with this brunch at Arkane Aleworks on October 20.  Just make sure you lock down your tickets soon because LOKO Cuisine events are known to draw sell out crowds.  Prost!

Cascade Brewing Alerts the Craft Beer Community to the Return of Vlad the Imp Aler

cascadelogoCascade Brewing (Portland, Oregon) has officially announced that Vlad the Imp Aler will make its long-awaited return on Tuesday, September 17.

Known to be “one of the most iconic projects in Cascade’s 20-year history of brewing and blending sour beer,” Vlad the Imp Aler is “a combination of quad and blond ales aged in bourbon and wine barrels for up to two years with orange peel and coriander.”  After its lengthy slumber, Vlad the Imp Aler rises to deliver “a fresh acidity and light malt sweetness with notes of bourbon, citrus and spice.”

Vlad the Imp Aler will debut in Cascade’s two Portland pubs – Cascade Brewing Barrel House and Lodge at Cascade Brewing – on September 17 and is scheduled to enter distribution shortly after the on-site release.  You can expect to find this Limited Release offering available in 500ml bottles and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Oregon and throughout the rest of Cascade Brewing’s distribution network.  Prost!

Vital Information for Vlad the Impaler (2017) from Cascade Brewing

Release – Limited; September 17, 2019
Style – American Sour Ale
ABV – ???
Treatment – A combination of quad & blond ales aged in bourbon & wine barrels for up to two years with orange peel & coriander
Fun Fact – The release of the 2017 project “marks Vlad’s first bottle release since the 2011 project, and the first time it’s available in 500ml bottles”
Availability – 500ml bottles & draft

Boulevard Brewing Co. Introduces Steep Drop as Newest Seasonal Offering

Steep-DropBoulevard Brewing Co. (Kansas City, Missouri) has officially announced that Steep Drop Nitro Coffee Milk Stout will launch in September as the brewery’s latest Seasonal release.

Created as a means of showcasing “local custom-roasted [coffee] beans,” Steep Drop is a Nitro Milk Stout brewed with fair trade, small-batch coffee from Kansas City’s Second Best Coffee.  Coming together to be “the perfect balance of beer and coffee,” Steep Drop (5.2% ABV) “blooms with notes of honey, molasses, citrus and cocoa powder” alongside “a mild nuttiness . . . accentuated by caramel and chocolate malts, with a touch of flaked oats.”

Steep Drop is scheduled to roll out in September and will hang around for a limited time.  You can expect to find this new Seasonal offering available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Missouri and throughout the rest of Boulevard’s distribution area.  Prost!

Vital Information for Steep Drop Nitro Coffee Milk Stout from Boulevard Brewing Co.

Release – Seasonal; launching September 2019
Style – Milk Stout
ABV – 5.2%
IBUs – 23
Added Ingredients – Fair trade, small-batch coffee from Second Best Coffee
Recommended Glassware – Pint
Suggested Food Pairings – “Brunch, donut holes, espresso-dusted ribs, strong/aged cheeses, salted caramel ice cream, chocolate chip scones, stout-braised pork”
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. cans & draft
Beer Finder – https://www.boulevard.com/beer/beer-finder/

Sixpoint Brewery Sends PUFF PUFF DDH Cloudy IIPA Out for a Limited Release

sixpoint_12ozsleek_puffpuffSixpoint Brewery (Brooklyn, New York) has officially announced that it will begin the Limited Release of PUFF PUFF DDH Cloudy IIPA in mid-September 2019.

Back when Sixpoint first created PUFF Cloudy IIPA in 2016, they basically presented their Year-Round Resin IIPA in its “most raw form” by pulling it “straight from the tanks, still densely packed with pure hop particulate for extra potency.” Fast forward three years later and PUFF PUFF has surfaced to take the original PUFF’s “cloudy formulation stratospheric” by “[amping] up the special blend of dry-hops by 2x.”  This makes PUFF PUFF (9.8% ABV) “an absolute haze bomb” filled with “tropical and juicy notes that complement the signature dankness.”

PUFF PUFF is slated to debut in mid-September 2019 and will hang around for a limited time.  You can expect to find this Limited Release available in 4-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at select craft beer-focused retailers, bars and restaurants located in Alabama, Florida, New York and throughout the rest of Sixpoint’s distribution territory.  Prost!

Vital Information for PUFF PUFF from Sixpoint Brewery

Release – Limited/Infinite Loop IPA Series; launching mid-September 2019
Style – New England-style/Hazy Imperial India Pale Ale
ABV – 9.8%
IBUs – 70
Fun Fact – PUFF PUFF is “at least twice as hazy” as the original PUFF. “By utilizing the NEIPA techniques developed by Eric Bachli and tested in our small batch program, PUFF PUFF is an absolute haze bomb.”
Availability – 4-packs of 12 oz. cans & draft

Abita Brewing Company Adds Low-Calorie Hop 99 IPA to Year-Round Lineup

hop99web1__largeAbita Brewing Company (Abita Springs, Louisiana) has officially announced that it will introduce Hop 99, a “guilt free” Light IPA, in late September 2019.

Developed by Abita’s brewing team with the intent of creating “a more sessionable beer without sacrificing the craft taste for long-time patrons and new craft beer drinkers,” Hop 99 is a Light India Pale Ale jam-packed with “Mosaic and Citra hops . . . to give it a big hop flavor, while pale malts give it a light body and crisp finish.”  Weighing in at just 4.2% ABV, 99 calories and 2.7 grams of carbohydrates, Hop 99 is an “ideal choice for after a run, taking a break from yard work or a long day of tailgating.”

“Hop 99 is the result of our brewing team and our patrons evolving together,” says David Blossman, President & CEO of Abita Brewing Co. “This beer gave us the challenge to create a flavor-forward, drinkable IPA, while it gives beer drinkers a craft-forward, sessionable option that significantly cuts the amount of carbohydrates and calories normally found in an IPA, or any category for that matter.”

 

“As the IPA category continues to change, we wanted to do something different that would appeal to a broader range of beer drinkers, so we took a look at how we can make an IPA an everyday hop-forward beer,” says Abita Brewmaster Mark Wilson.

Hop 99 is scheduled to enter full distribution in late September.  You can expect to find this new Year-Round offering available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and throughout the rest of Abita’s distribution area.  Prost!

Vital Information for Hop 99 from Abita Brewing Company

Release – Year-Round; launching late September 2019
Style – American India Pale Ale
ABV – 4.2%
IBUs – 25
Calories – 99 
Carbs – 2.7 grams
Hops – Citra & Mosaic 
Malts – Pale
Yeast – American Ale
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. cans & draft
Beer Finder – https://abita.com/find-abita

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Cascade Brewing Introduces Pistil Whipped Barrel-aged Blonde Ale

cascadelogoCascade Brewing (Portland, Oregon) has officially announced that it will begin the Limited Release of Pistil Whipped on Friday, September 13.

Surfacing as Cascade Brewing’s latest Northwest Sour Ale to be bottled, Pistil Whipped is “a blend of sour blond ales aged in oak wine barrels with late infusions of saffron and chamomile.”  Presenting itself as “a rich golden-yellow from the saffron’s distinct color,” Pistil Whipped (7.7% ABV) “captures saffron’s earthy, hay-like spice character with gentle floral and honey notes from the chamomile tea.”

Pistil Whipped will debut in Cascade’s two Portland pubs – Cascade Brewing Barrel House and Lodge at Cascade Brewing – on September 13 and is scheduled to enter distribution shortly after the on-site release.  You can expect to find this Limited Release offering available in 500ml bottles and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Oregon and throughout the rest of Cascade Brewing’s distribution network.  Prost!

Vital Information for Pistil Whipped from Cascade Brewing

Release – Limited; September 13, 2019
Style – American Sour Ale
ABV – 7.7%
Treatment – A blend of sour blond ales aged in oak wine barrels with late infusions of saffron & chamomile
Availability – 500ml bottles & draft

Iron Maiden Brings its TROOPER Sun and Steel Saké Lager to the U.S.

TROOPER Sun and Steel CanIron Maiden and Robinsons Brewery (Stockport, England) have officially announced that TROOPER Sun and Steel Saké Lager will land in the U.S. in October 2019.

Arriving as the sixth release in Iron Maiden and Robinsons Brewery’s collaborative TROOPER Series and Iron Maiden’s first Lager, TROOPER Sun and Steel is a double-fermented Lager inspired by “a meeting between [Iron Maiden vocalist and beer connoisseur Bruce Dickinson] and longtime friend George Yusa, owner of the 300-year-old, family-run Okunomatsu Sake Brewery in Fukushima, Japan.”  The idea to brew a saké-influenced beer was then turned over to Robinsons Brewery where they created Sun and Steel with an initial fermentation with lager yeast followed by a secondary fermentation with authentic Japanese saké yeast (so authentic that its use required “permission from the Japanese government”).  This complex approach to Sun and Steel (4.8% ABV) yielded “a delicate, subtle fruit flavor infused into a pilsner-style beer – equal parts refreshing, invigorating and flavorful.”

“This has been such an exciting project,” Bruce Dickinson commented. “I had a crazy idea to try and make a sake-infused lager, and over two and a half years later, here we are! I know Martyn and the team at Robinsons have had to become mad scientists to make this work, but the end result is a really unique hybrid beer that tastes fantastic. TROOPER fans have been asking for a lager, and here it is. I bet you would never have guessed we would do it like this though!”

TROOPER Sun and Steel will officially launch in the U.S. in October. You can expect to find this new TROOPER release available in 4-packs of 16 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida and all other areas of the U.S. serviced by Artisanal Imports.  Prost!

Vital Information for TROOPER Sun and Steel from Iron Maiden & Robinsons Brewery

Release – TROOPER Series; launching in the U.S. in October 2019
Style – Pilsner
ABV – 4.8%
Treatment – Primary fermentation with lager yeast and secondary fermentation with authentic Japanese saké yeast
Fun Fact #1 – “The beer takes its name from the Iron Maiden song ‘Sun and Steel’ that appears on their 1983 album Piece of Mind, which was, in turn, inspired by the life of Japanese samurai Miyamoto Musashi.”
Fun Fact #2 – Sun and Steel “serves as a thank-you to all the fans who came out for the North American leg of Iron Maiden’s Legacy of the Beast tour, which concludes in the U.S. on September 25th in San Antonio, Texas.”
Availability – 4-packs of 16 oz. cans & draft
Distribution – Nationwide