Tag Archives: Founders Brewing

That was AWESOME! Big Pour 4 Review

Wow!  What a great time!  The Big Pour Four knocked it out of the ballpark further then Sidney Crosby ever could.  This was TDY’s first trip to the Big Pour since moving back to town.  Mixed emotions confronted us leading up to Saturday.  All the hype surrounding the event got us excited, and it seemed liked the rest of Pittsburgh was along for the ride.  At the same time we hoped it wouldn’t be overly hyped, feature wicked long lines, or be too unorganized.

From the very start on August 2nd I had a good feeling about the Big Pour, even if it didn’t start out so smoothly.  After failing to get through, on-line or on any of my thousands of phone calls, I almost caved.  I had almost given up, but decided to try one more time……..ring ring ring ring “Hi This is ShowClicks can I help you?”  Oh YEAH!!!  My name was placed on a waiting list as it was received and waited to hear back all evening.  While dinner was on the grill and I was drinking a Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA the phone rang.  Yep we got tickets!!!

Let’s fast forward now to the fun part, follow TDY’s path through the big pour.  You really couldn’t have asked for much better weather.  The line to get in was long, but the doors opened around 11:30am and things moved really well.  The first room had a nice mix of food and beer.  This trend followed suit throughout the festival.  Among our first beers were:

  • New Holland Poet Oatmeal Stout, Mad Hatter IPA
  • Furthermore Knot Stock – a wonderful pale ale that is light and crisp but really gives a kick in the teeth with black pepper flavor, Fatty Boombalatty
  • Anderson Valley Hop Ottin’ IPA
  • Erie FallenBock, excellent fall beer!, Heritage Alt Beer.
  • North Country Red, try it on Cask next time you are out

One of the highlights out of this group was talking to Joel from New Holland while pairing the Poet with brownies from Artspace and Coffeehouse.  We also caught up with the Should I Drink That guys.  They were serving brews from Erie Brewing including a dark German Alt Bier, Heritage.  In addition to serving for Erie and giving away occasional prizes, they came prepared for a podcast direct from Big Pour 4.  Allegro Hearth Bakery also had amazing baked goods there.  All of this was just in the first room: an excellent start to the festival!

The Belgian Beer Cafe was our next stop where the Beer Nutz fellas were pouring Unibroue’s Maudite and Ephemere. Ephemere is certainly an interesting beer brewed withe the juices from green apples.  It’s not too fruity but light and drinkable with a nice balance of sweet and tart flavors.  The Belgian Cafe was also serving New Holland Golden Cap Saison, Furthermore Make Weight, and Victory Golden Monkey Trippel. We also stopped to check out the kegerator art.  I really liked the one with the beer cans trying to break out of jail.  I will never look at the Allegheny County Jail the same.  Weyerbacher Brewing brought an awesome Double Simcoe IPA at 9%.  This beer was hoppy without the overly sweet malty or high alcohol taste that usually accompanies this style.  The Point Brugge fries were perfectly salted for beer consumption and served with flavored mayonnaise!  The band was also situated in this area.  They sounded great without being over powering, allowing for great conversation with friends and other beer lovers!  Next to the band we sampled:

  • Southern Tier 2XIPA, PumKING one of my new and only favorite Pumpkin beers.  Southern Tier is one of my favorite breweries of 2010, great showing again at the Pour!
  • Stone Levitation
  • Bell’s…..they really didn’t bring their A game at all…
  • Yard’s IPA and Brawler

After some wonderful Bocktown sausage meatballs, we had an amazing bowl of stew from Piper’s!  I could eat at Piper’s every meal of every day for a long long time.  Now that we got a little food in, time for more beer.  Voodoo Brewing was excellent again!  They stole the show for us at the Ohiopyle Beer and Gear Fest and had another strong showing at the Big Pour.  The Love Child is a very complex fruit beer but not too sweet, and it was on tap this time too.  Their Wynona’s Big Brown Ale is one of the top 3 brown ale’s I’ve ever had (No, New Castle is not in the top 3).  They are a great group of guys too.  Other beers back in this corner of the warehouse:

  • Thirsty Dog Old Leghumper – – I just can never pass this one up.  Smooth and drinkable with nice hints of chocolate and roast malts.
  • Sprague Farm; best dressed award goes to Sprague Farm for the kilt, and kick ass mustache…….he is also in charge of the hop farm
  • Mountain State Brewing; another fine showing with the solid Amber and IPA
  • Penn;  Penn Octoberfest coming very very very soon

TDY hit the two hour mark and nature called quickly.  On the way out we stopped at East End Brewing.  On cask we had the Homewood Reserve.  We can’t say enough about East End.  They always have a great showing at beer festivals and are really pushing Pittsburgh’s craft beer movement forward.  The Homewood Reserve reminded us of the cask Blackstrap stout at the Penn beer fest, but with a more bourbon taste.  Very smooth and strong with a complex flavor profile of alcohol and roasted malts.

The last few beers were:

  • Founders Backstage Series Double Barrel Bourbon IPA; awesome mix, great taste, hoppy with a little bourbon after taste, one of the top beers of the festival
  • Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
  • Troegs Porter
  • Roy Pitz Hefe
  • New Holland Brother Jacob Dunkel, Imperial Mad Hatter.

Time ran out before we could try all the amazing food, but it all smelled great!  Hats off to everyone involved with the Big Pour 4.  And we were glad to meet a lot of great people.  Tim from Craft Pittsburgh was there and it was great to hear about his big plans for spreading the passion and excitement about the craft beer movement in PGH.  We have been to tons beer festivals all over the country and this one was AWESOME.  Someone asked this weekend why we still go and if we get the same energy at every festival.  The answer is, oh yeah!  The atmosphere is excellent, you get to try rare/festival only beers and can shoot the breeze with other beer lovers.  We leave you with our top beers in no particular order.  What were your top beers?  Have any good pics?  What was your favorite kegerator?  Did you win a kegerator?  Keep checking YouTube for our videos from the Big Pour.

  • Founders Backstage Series Double Barrel Bourbon IPA
  • Voodoo Wynona’s Big Brown Ale
  • Voodoo Love Child
  • East End Homewood Reserve
  • Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA
  • New Holland Poet
  • Southern Tier PumKing
  • Furthermore Knot Stock

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New Holland and Founders Tasting (Part 1)

TDY planned a great saturday to celebrate the beginning of the end to our summer!  We started off with a 2 hour paddle around the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers downtown.  The weather was absolutely beautiful, and the views of the city from the river are unrivaled.  If you are interested, Kayak Pittsburgh rents kayaks at $15/hr and no prior experience is necessary. 

After working up an appetite (and thirst), we grilled out some fajitas, complete with homemade salsa, and gathered together a large collection of New Holland and Founders selections for a tasting. New Holland is located in Holland, MI and Founders is located in Grand Rapids, MI so you can think of this as sampling the real fruits of Michigan.  Here’s a list of the beer that we tried out and some quick notes on what we thought.

  • Centennial IPA (F) 7.2% ABV, 65 IBU – very malty for an IPA with even a few hints of chocolate and caramel on the palate. a slight hoppy aroma but not much bitterness to speak of . 
  • Mad Hatter IPA (NH)  5.25% ABV – dry hopping provides more of a hop aroma (hints of something similar to Simcoe?).  The Mad Hatter is nice and crisp with still a touch of malt sweetness.  Better hop/malt balance than the Centennial.  The dry hop causes Mad Hatter to finish with a satisfying dryness.
  • Imperial Mad Hatter IPA (NH) 9.4% ABV – similar to the Mad Hatter but with the distinctive bite of a higher alcohol brew.  The alcohol actually balances the malt bill and helps bring some more of the hop character to the forefront. 
  • Red’s Rye IPA (F)  6.6% ABV,  70 IBU – Centennial with a touch of rye to create a richness of flavor that overcomes the strong malt bill.  Our favorite of all 4 of the IPAs, although nontraditional, has the most to offer in terms of flavor complexity and balance.  A rich deep red color and good head retention  create a visual experience to rival the taste.

 

 

  • Golden Cap Saison (NH) 6.25% ABV – Very sweet candy-like aroma reminiscent of a Belgian blonde ale. The flavor is sweet at first with a carbonation that feels light on the tongue and a finish that ends in a surprising sourness reminiscent of a Belgian gueze.  Golden Cap is a wonderful surprise and great on a hot summer night.  We should warn that this beer is not for everyone as many people shy away from this level of sweetness in a beer.
  • Cerise (F)  6.5% ABV, 15 IBU – Aroma reminiscent of a fresh baked cherry pie.  Fruity with a touch of sweetness but not artificial.  Finishes with a tartness that any good cherry pie should have.   Pours a beautiful light red color with a nice head.  Cerise is  truly a gateway fruit beer : introducing the style without being overly sweet.
  • Sundog Amber Ale (NH)  6% ABV – A typical amber ale that balances a bit of maltiness with just a slight touch of hops.
  • Curmudgeon Old Ale (F)  9.8% ABV, 50 IBU – Curmudgeon is all about the malt and therefore retains a characteristic sweetness that is evident even in the aroma.  With hints of roasted malts, caramel, and butterscotch, Curmudgeon seems like a dessert in a glass and so again is not for everyone.  Those that enjoy very malty or sweet beers will likely love Curmudgeon while American IPA “hopheads” will find this one hard to swallow.
  • Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale (F) 8.5% ABV, 50 IBU –  A slimmed down version of Curmudgeon which is not as malty resulting in a much smoother flavor.  The Scotch Ale has a bit more roasted malt flavor than the straight sweetness of Curmudgeon.  Excellent head retention.

 

Our Favorite Beers 

Tim :  Founders Red’s Rye IPA – It’s really a unique beer with a great hop/malt balance and a flavor profile that is truly enhanced by the touch of rye.

Look for our  continuation of the New Holland and Founders Tasting  including New Holland’s Night Tripper Imperial Stout, Wheat Wine, and Poet Oatmeal Stout.

Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, MI)

 Last Visit : June 12, 2010

I had the pleasure to visit the Founders Brewery this past weekend in Grand Rapids, MI. This visit is important for the Pittsburghers  because Founders has only been available in the Pittsburgh area since late last fall.  Right in a beautifully restored downtown area of Grand Rapids, this fairly new location (opened in 2007) has a great laid back vibe with good views into the brewery.  A great location combined with a whole lineup of great brews made for my favorite of the four Michigan breweries I visited this weekend. 

I tried a couple of things that you won’t normally find out in the stores.  The Devil Dancer is an excellent imperial IPA weighing in at 12% ABV.  The alcohol is not overpowering but there is a residually sweet flavor with a wonder ful bitterness.  Sarah enjoyed the Cerise (Michigan Cherry Beer!) which is very much like a cherry cider.  For a nice summer brew, try the Endurance Ale (4.8%) which is bursting with Cascade hop aroma and flavor.  Sarah and I both enjoyed the Curmudgeon Olde Ale (9.8%) which has a wonderful malt bill giving it the flavor of a much darker beer.  The food is mostly sandwiches but there are a lot of choices.  It’s the little touches on the sandwiches that make them so good here.  I enjoyed the Big Easy sandwich which is sort of like an italian sandwich served with an olive tapenade on sundried tomato bread.  Sarah thoroughly enjoyed the Turkey/Bacon/Gouda on Ciabatta bread.  I highly recommend the sandwiches!

My favorite brew from Founders is probably the Double Trouble Imperial IPA (avail. Jan-Feb).  Since you won’t be trying this one this summer, I highly recommend the Centennial IPA and the Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale.  I have not even encountered a mediocre beer from Founders (one of only a handful of breweries that I can say that about).  Wait around for the late fall for a special treat: one of the best breakfast stouts you may ever drink!  Try it now!

http://www.foundersbrewing.com/

***Brewery Visits are a biweekly post about our favorite tours and taprooms all over the U.S..  Check back to see where we are going next!