1. American Craft Beer Fest is this weekend in Boston, Mass. Join us for 640+ beers from 140+ brewers! Tickets for Friday, May 29 are still available. Cheers!

Founders Curmudgeon's Better Half - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Curmudgeon's Better HalfFounders Curmudgeon's Better Half

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

954 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 954
Reviews: 231
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 10.9%
Wants: 422
Gots: 373 | FT: 13
Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  11.90% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Jason on 01-09-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Old ale aged in bourbon barrels previously used for Michigan maple syrup.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
to view more.
Ratings: 954 | Reviews: 231
Reviews by kingcrowing:
Photo of kingcrowing
4.17/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a hill farmstead tulip.

Pours a deep hazy amber brown with a very small and thin light brown head. Nose is malty, sweet, a bit of maple, well balanced.

Taste is awesome, old ales are generally a fairly dull style for me but these magic barrels really take it up a notch, mellow and sweet with a good amount of maple and bourbon. Not quite up to CBS but the character of the barrels still comes through. Mouthfeel is full and a bit syrupy with a crisp finish. Little bit of booze as well but it's far from overwhelming.

More User Reviews:
Photo of Phoodcritic
5/5  rDev +16%

I enjoyed this beer on tap at Founders in 2012. Simply sublime. Perfect. It was the most delicious and complex beverage I have ever consumed...and I have tried virtually everything Founders has produced in the last three years.

Photo of thecheapies
4.36/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The initial pour looked a deep brownish-red with awesome clarity. Topping the beer off added lots of chunky sediment and broken-up yeast cake and really clouded the beer. The head that collected is a half moon of coarse bubbles. They haven't popped yet.

I'm waiting for CBH to warm up, but I'm getting a starter waft of fresh fennel and dry caramel. As it slowly warms, one can pick up on maple, barrel wood, English malt, licorice root, milk chocolate, molasses, and faint whiskey. An aged old ale, in the nose, with featured notes of barrel complexity.

Firmly steeped in molasses (not without bitterness), maple, licorice, bourbon, light roastiness, figgy fruits, caramel brittle, date, fennel, herbal elixiry sweetness, and some bitterness in the tailend. Amazingly complex. I feel like this beer probably dried up a little, too, but I can't know for sure. Has a grand appeal. The fennel/licorice presence in the flavor is really intense. Almost as much dried fruit as there is caramel. Atypical ale. Nothing like I've ever had before.

Full-bodied with light tackiness on the lips. Soft carbonation. Nothing even close to 11.9% represented here. Mellowed beautifully.

I wasn't expecting this kind of flavor profile evolution. I assume this has strayed from what it was, which I would've greatly enjoyed. But, I still love what it has become. Adventurous beer that I purchased already aged. Too fun.

Photo of tectactoe
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

One year old, bottled Feb 2012, enjoyed Feb 2013 amongst a tasting group. Pours a copper-ish, deep amber color with very nice clarity. An almost light-yellow, eggshell like head tops this one off and leaves tiny bits of lacing along the sides of the glass.

The nose on this one is heavy and full of many different things; bourbon, oak, light vanilla, light black licorice, sweet and juicy dark fruits, boozy figs, dates, and raisins, sweet toffee and caramel, and a very faint maple aroma that comes out more and more as time goes on. I'd like to believe the maple was much heavier when fresh, but it's still hidden and can be found even a year after bottling. Sweet and boozy all around.

Curmudgeon's Better Half doesn't waste any time getting down to business. It hits the palate with a heavy mix of bourbon, oak, licorice, caramel and sweet fruits. More figs, raisins, and dates that have been soaked in bourbon, and dipped in a brown sugar bath. No surprises here - the malt is heavy and gives off a huge molasses and caramel sweetness, sugary and sticky like syrup. Oak flavors are a touch mellow, but definitely there, along with the maple syrup which seems to kind of just blend into the background with everything else.

The booze is strong on this one, especially when you consider the fact that it's one-year old and only 11.9% ABV. Feels much closer to the 15% range. The maple characteristic is strongest in the aftertaste, which is also full of more oak, sweet bread, over-ripe dark fruits, and more bourbon. Thick and almost chewy body, sticky and syrupy, low-medium amount of carbonation.

Surprisingly bourbon heavy and almost even "hot" for being a 11.9% ABV year-old ale, but still pretty drinkable and definitely full of flavor. Lots of sweetness and oak flavors, along with a very, very mild maple characteristic. Was this one worth the price? Probably not, but it was still pretty damn good. I enjoyed it.

Photo of Spaten454
4.72/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: it pours a burnt orange color with a small head that dissipates quickly. nice lacing. I had a lot of sediment in my pour.

S: Maple syrup, then bourbon. heaven. It smells exactly as you would think. everything blends together perfectly.

T: maple sweetness up front followed by a light bourbon in the end. Hints of caramel. nothing is overpowering. every flavor compliments the other. its not over sweet at all and the maple is fantastic.

M: Totally smooth, kinda slick like syrup. light carbonation. kinda coats the mouth.

O: Just a great beer. Def worth trying to score a bottle.

Photo of warnerry
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a clear deep amber with almost two fingers of tan head. Head has pretty good retention. Only small spots of lacing.

S - Nice bourbon presence, with quite a bit of vanilla and oak in the aroma. Also a bit of caramel, maple syrup, brown sugar. Definitely some noticeable alcohol, but it doesn't detract from the aroma.

T - Caramel is more apparent in the taste, but vanilla and oak are still the spotlight flavors. The is sweetness, but not as much as I feared. The oak cuts the sweetness nicely. Taste is also a bit boozy. Very smooth flavors. Really tasty.

M - Full mouthfeel. Smooth and slick, with sweetness up front, but a nice dry, oaky finish.

O - I don't enjoy Curmudgeon enough to get it very often, but this is a nice use of the base beer. Very nice sipper.

Photo of marvin213
4.73/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The look isn't all that impressive, but I know this is a bad ass beer. It's translucent and a surprisingly light brown with even a yellowish tint. I respect the sediment floating all around--even on the first small pour--so perhaps I should replace "impressive" with "predictable." It must be that lighter old ale that confused me as I just casually expected yet another bourbon barrel, pitch black stout.

The nose definitely conjures up thoughts of Old Curmudgeon. It definitely has that sweeter molasses, maple syrup type feel to the aroma. The taste is pretty magnificent, as it embodies what big beers can be. It IS so much better than Old Curmudgeon, and it IS its "better half!" That syrupy sweet, sugary molasses mixed with that semi-bitter, almost chalky, sediment floating big Ol ale that George Washington would've drank really makes for the like the perfect coupling! A phenomenal concoction! That's what it is: a concoction.

I sort of understand (I'm not a brewer)--with these ingredients and the barrel aging and all--how this is a limited edition brew. As the market gets saturated with them, however, I must say that this one definitely meets and/or exceeds expectations. Cheers, and Go Heels!

Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to someone for sharing at bu11zeye's 10,000th rating tasting.

The beer pours an orange-brown color with a tan head. The aroma is awesome. I get a lot of maple and oak notes, as well as some vanilla and toffee malt. The flavor is very similar. There is a lot of maple and vanilla from the barrel aging. I also get quite a bit of toffee and caramel malt, as well as some alcohol. Medium to thick mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Photo of sculls65
4.09/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy deep amber with creamy head that shrunk to a small cloud in the center of my tulip glass. Nose picks up bourbon, maple, all those toffee candied malts and alcohol ..and some dank wet fruit or peat or leather. The taste is sweet and smooth. Dominated by malts and sweet maple, the bourbon warmth adds a nice touch. Glad i got to try it, but sad its gone.

Photo of bsp77
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Burnished red with thin off-white head and subtle lacing.

Smell: Kind of a laundry list of aromas - caramel, toffee, bourbon, oak, vanilla, coconut, maple syrup, plum. Pretty sweet overall, both literally and figuratively.

Taste: Very sweet. I usually have a problem with that, but not here. Malty and fruity core that is wonderfully overrun with vanilla, oak, coconut and maple syrup. Fairly boozy as well, but it fits with the profile here.

Feel: Thick, syrupy and warming, with pretty low carbonation. Smooth and a nice sipper overall.

Overall: Just great stuff. Founders is great at barrel aging, and has particularly worked wonders with these Maple Syrup Bourbon Barrels.

Overall:

Photo of ehammond1
4.31/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle (2012)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, joshrosborne!

A lighter than expected, but very pretty nearly clear copper and golden with a very persistent, moderately sized light khaki colored head of tightly bubbled foam atop. Leaves fairly thick lines and spots of stick down the glass. Very pretty, especially for the style.

Nice caramel and toffee notes, along with a bit of wood and nut combine nicely with bourbon notes and some lingering maple characters. I wish it all a bit more pronounced, as in the flavor, but this is certainly very nice.

The flavor is fantastic and just as expressive and delicious as I was hoping for. This is like melted caramel and pecan pie with a bourbon whipped cream frosting atop...only in beer form. The alcohol is exceptionally well hidden, turning this monster into an incredibly drinkable, tamed beast. Really impressed.

Medium bodied with low-moderate carbonation. Just a touch oily. Very drinkable.

Exceptional. One of my favorites within the style. Well done, Founders!

Photo of MattyG85
4.77/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 750 ml bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice glass.

Appearance: Pours a very deep and cloudy brownish copper orange with a moderate amount of bubbles. About one finger of off white head which quickly recedes into a few thin patches. Lacing is moderate.

Smell: Big hints of bourbon up front with woody oak chips. Good hints of vanilla and maple syrup. Big malt presence with lots of caramel and toffee. Sweet molasses and brown sugar aromas. Also some subtle hints of dark raisin, plum, and fig. Light hints of earthy hops in the background. Quite a complex smelling beer.

Taste: As bold and complex as it smells. Big taste of bourbon and vanilla with lots of oak chip. Good amount of maple syrup and molasses. Lots of bready lightly roasted malts. Big notes of caramel, toffee, and brown sugar. Midway comes some hints of dark fruits including plum, fig, and raisin. Finishes with a very light hint of earthy hops. A pretty sweet brew but its far from cloying. All of the malts and barrel elements come together very well.

Mouthfeel: Feels on the thicker side with a moderate level of carbonation. Creamy, slick, and pretty syrupy. Actually finishes somewhat dry. The alcohol heat is felt somewhat at 11.9 % but its still pretty smooth considering.

Overall: A great Old Ale. Complex and nicely sweet without becoming too syrupy. The barrel elements add a great kick.

Photo of yadehtsiyadot
4.95/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This forest is immensely dense. Foilage brushes against my legs as I make my way inward. I am at peace in this place. Light from beyond gleams through the trees, enveloping every blade of grass and every loose stick.

"This way", I hear a voice from the distance. Following it, I come across a great old maple tree. "What do you wish of me?" I question. "Share what I create by drinking from me", the old tree replies.

Reaching into my boot, I extract my pocket knife. Gently impaling the bark of the living wood, I open a prosperous floodgate. Scents of bourbon and maple encompass the forest. Pouring from the puncture is a beautiful, brown liquid.

"What is this?", I ponder. Reading my thoughts, the great maple replies, "This is you". "But I am me", I argue. "How can this be?" The old tree continues, "You are everything. But you divide yourself. You cut yourself in half, then quarters, then eigths, sixteenths, etc...forgetting what you truly are".

Confused, I bend down and take a gulp of the nectar. Everything is understood. This is me. This is my Better Half.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.87/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Straight up declicous on draft at Mad Mex I'm in love with these beers from Founders on barrel aged whiskey and maple syrup. This one fantastic version of the beers that I don't care for fresh but damn aged on both bourbon and Maple syrup barrels there's nothing out there like this in the world. Appears a deep caramel amber body with creamy tan head forming thick in my chalice. Aroma has deep chocolate and candy coated whiskey barrel notes excellent stuff indeed...incredible complex caramel alcohol and whisky accents to make one incredible beer going on. Toffee is warming up with sweet caramel layers and whiskey oak tones even vanilla coming from the charred oaky notes...big vinous layer of fruits like plums, raisins, and other super saturated sugar content fruit additions. Amazing in the balance even though it's sweet it's not an overkill beer, I'm glad I've come across it during a PCBW even. Mouthfeel is way too smooth for the alcohol level this beer goes down incredibly easy without difficulty. Maple syrup adds a whole other complex layer to an already big and good beer profile, this beer comes off complex delicious and I want more.

Photo of jeonseh
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled poured into a CBS snifter

A - Caramel, golden color with a slight white head and a decent amount of carbonation trailing upwards. Has a slight syrupy aspect to it. Actually looks a bit like a cognac as it sits in my snifter. Looks to be a think and syrupy beer that leaves a thick coating in the glass. - 4.5

S - Caramel, toffee, light vanilla and syrup that come up. Has a light oak presence and a strong almost brandy like alcoholic presence as well - 4.5

T - Caramel with a slight alcoholic bite to it at first. As it comes along, there is a nice vanilla and ample syrup that comes through. Definitely sweeter than regular crumegesgon but still has the nice malty aspects to it. Has a slight oak that lingers on the tongue as well as a decent alcoholic bite to it. 4

MF - Thick and syrupy with light carbonation. Actually manages to have a nice creaminess to it. Slight oak tingle that comes out in the finish - 4

O - A nice another maple beer from founders. The maple barrel adds a nice sweetness to normal crumegadeon that makes it a more complex and more approachable beer. The maple is much better incorporated in here than I thought it was in CBS as it made itself known without being overpowering - 4.5

Photo of mdaschaf
4.12/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes.

A: Pours brown with a small off-white head on top with some decent lacing that hangs on the sides for a while.

S: There was some maple, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, and bourbon all mixed together. On the sweet side, very inviting.

T: A nice blend of bourbon and maple. Brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, and some oak. It has a nice sweetness, but not over the top at al.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation. Alcohol hidden nicely.

O: One of my favorite Old Ales, probably because of the barrel aging. Would certainly drink again.

Photo of zaphodchak
4.35/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thinnish offwhite head, tawny red-amber body, clear.

Nose has alcohol, bourbon, a bit of maple.

Body is smooth, rich-- much less bitter than draft, rich, dripping with almost buttery maple syrup. Magnificent rich body. Aftertaste is a bit burning, but not offensive.

Mouthfeel is impeccably smooth.

This rode the hype-coattails of CBS. It's good, and has the air of being a special/exclusive brew, if not as mind-blowing as some of the other limited releases.

Photo of socon67
4.44/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at the Founder's Tap Takeover, Double Windsor

A - Dark amber pour, clinging lacing to the glass, and a thin tan foam.

S - Smells of fresh maple, caramel, mohogany wood, and distilled bourbon whaff from the glass. Over time the sweetness became more prominent.

T - Very up front taste of maple syrup. There was also a bit of candied fruit flavor. The subdued burn at the end gives this variant a mellower profile than the regular Curmudgeon. The finish does give a flavor of refined bourbon.

M - While this is a perfect cordial drink, I found it so intense that even one glass was probably too much. There is no quality to make me have more than one, but that one glass is awesome.

O - So glad to try this on tap. It will appeal to your sweet tooth, and I found it better used maple and oburbon notes than CBS.

Photo of prototypic
4.17/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Curmdugeon’s Better Half is copper in color. It’s very clear. When held to light, it takes on more of a red appearance. It’s a really sharp looking color. An off-white head caps it off. It’s rather modest, rising to just above a finger in height. Retention was short. Perhaps the abv’s a bit too much for it to survive. Lacing was a bit sticky and moderate in volume. Good stuff.

The nose is very impressive. The base smells like a mix of caramel and toasted malts. It definitely smells sweet and sugary. Part of that is attributable to the barrel-aging in maple syrup bourbon barrels. Sweet syrup scents are definitely noted. Bourbon is there, but is more subtle. It’s a nice complement to the other scents though. Secondary scents include vanilla, oak, light dark fruit, and alcohol. Alcohol is blended well for nearly 12%. It doesn’t smell nearly that strong. Smells great! Very deep, complex, and intriguing.

The flavor is very good, but it is just a tad too sweet. The malt base is a strong mix of caramel and toasted malts. The caramel variety is stronger. It is VERY sweet. The mix of caramel, syrup, and sugary flavors are a huge part of the flavor profile. Having said that, the maple flavor is tasty and works well. Bourbon is there, but isn’t really the highlight. It takes a backseat to the other flavors and plays its complementary role very well. A mix of vanilla, oak, praline, light plum, and alcohol round it out. The alcohol is blended extremely well. Finishes with a mix of sugar, caramel, sugar, syrup, and sugar.

The body is medium and it is extremely smooth. Carbonation is dialed back nicely and the bubbles feel very soft. This is easy drinking for such a big beer. Scary drinkability. Proceed with caution.

There’s no doubt – Curmudgeon’s Better Half is extremely good beer. If you have a big sweet tooth, you’ll love it. This one’s just a little sweet for me, and that holds it back a little. Very, very impressive stuff though. Definitely worth seeking out.

Photo of dbossman
4.57/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Tawny caramel hue with a thin film of a head and okay lacing considering the style

S: A lot of anise and bourbon and oak and maple syrup; this is boozy and malty and sweet and I cannot wait

T: This is brilliant: dark fruits, maple, anise, oak, bourbon, damn this is so so good

F: Creamy, medium body--such a good mouth feel

O: This is so damn good: bourbon in the finish and a ton of maple and just a bit of anise which strangely brings it together; God, I really love this

Photo of 33nickadams
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I really did not expect to see the color I did. For some reason, I expected a dark opaque stout-like color. This has a beautiful deep amber color with about a a finger of somewhat sticky white head. It is rather transparent as well. Smells strong of bourbon, maple, vanilla and caramel. Some molasses is detected in the nose. Upon tasting, I was really surprised at how sweet it is. Bourbon seems to dominate along with vanilla and maple. Hotness from the alcohol is noticeable. The body is moderate and it is lightly carbonated. I feel it could be a little heavier. Overall, this was very good. You really can't go wrong with anything by Founder's that is barrel aged. The sweetness may become tiring after a while. I wonder if this might be better bottled in a 12 oz. I'm glad I got to try it and I was pleasantly surprised.

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle poured into a Kate the Great snifter. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Pours a deep amber body. Decent head with decent lacing.

Smell - Apples, bourbon, maple. Big molasses aroma. The aromas complement each other very nicely.

Taste - Even better. Apples subdued. Much stronger maple syrup. Sweet dark sugar flavors. Nice earthy hop bitterness to keep it balanced. Awesome.

Mouthfeel - Boozy, for sure. Easy to drink, surprisingly. Almost too light considering the ABV.

Overall - Quite spectacular flavors. Much better than Old Curmudgeon. Every beer needs to be put in maple syrup bourbon barrels.

Photo of sjones5045
4.88/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

So this is the third, and final bottle of my Better Half stash. I've had a bottle at release, a few months later and now over a year later. The pour is dark brown and in the case of the older beer, hazy with some sediment. The smell is sweet and malty. Curmudgeon with syrup pretty much. The taste is insane. Malty and sweet like the smell. The thing I don't like is that it ruin the regular curmudgeon for me a little. Overall, top notch world class beer that I'm sad that I may not ever have again.

Photo of mobius387
4.18/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

poured into cbs snifter!

appearance: copper colored and clear, nice bubbly cream colored head

aroma: some caramel, and some mustyness to it, but not super impressive, pretty soft

palate: oh my goodness so so smooth! can hardly tell this is almost 12%, very little carbonation. perfect feel to this beer

taste: great syrupy flavors with some caramel, hints of vanilla and cinnamon. little bit of bourbon kick

overall: another fantastic offering from a top notch brewery. would love to have this one again!

Photo of Vonerichs
4.35/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opaque caramel colored body with a tan-off-white head.

Smells of butterscotch, caramel, vanilla, and light maple.

The maple bourbon barrels add multiple layers of vanilla, maple, and oak. Smooth butterscotch, caramel, and brown sugar add more depth. It's sweet, but not overly sweet. The maple is present, yet subtle.

The mouthfeel is amazingly smooth. It's slightly boozy from the barrels. Carbonation is low, but is a very good way.

This is a fantastic beer with depth, and very smooth.

to view more.
Founders Curmudgeon's Better Half from Founders Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 954 ratings.