Founders Curmudgeon's Better Half - Founders Brewing Company

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

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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: 427
Gots: 372 | 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
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Ratings: 954 | Reviews: 231
Photo of claspada
3.96/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of mcgwire756.

Pours a hazy bright ruby color with a small but frothy off white head that leaves some nice sticky solid lacing as the head recedes. I am really impressed with the sticky lacing; enticing to say the least.

The aromas begin with sweet, malt-forward notes scented of caramel candy, dark brown sugar and maple. Oak tannins and bourbon emerge more and more as it warms. Boozy spirit aromas continue to emerge and is eventually all I can discern.

The tastes follow the nose initially with sweet malt and maple notes starting off. Then I get the oak, vanilla and darker caramel candy flavor. Solid caramelized brown sugar maltiness and light cocoa is complemented but the underlying bourbon presence emerges more and more as it warms.

The mouthfeel is medium to heavy bodied with medium carbonation. Finish is definitely sweet but stays away from being cloying thanks to the oak/bourbon barrel aging which imparts a slight dryness into the finish.

Overall, this beer initially did not impress me and the aromas really never did, but as it warmed the flavor profile really came into its own and become really enjoyable. I have been very non-into overly bourbon strong beers, which I assumed this would be from the aroma, but the old ale style flavor profile highlighted by caramelized malts and maple sugar sweetness counteracts the brash bourbon and oak barrel highlights. Not sure if this is really an Old Ale per say (I don't think the base beer is a great example either, so that makes sense), but I am pleased by the drinkability and elegant flavor profile of this offering so early in its inception. Well worth seeking out and recommended for fans of the style.

Photo of DCon
3.96/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought a 22oz Bottle of this from Friar Tuck's in Crestwood, MO for $17.99. Poured from the bottle w/ Curmudgeon about to enjoy some pancakes w/ syrup & his wife next to him into a 12oz Snifter Glass. Has no bottle date to be found.

Aroma- Hmmm... Whats in here? No nose on this one at all... Malt and touch of alcohol but nothing else pops out.

Appearance- Pours a 1 finger head that has average retention. Has a semi-cloudy, dark copper/amber colored body. Leaves tons of suds behind.

Flavor- Has the sweetest caramel and then maple syrup flavors. Awesome here! A nice butterscotch flavor comes over the palate as well. Light alcohol and light bitterness. Smooth at the finish.

Mouthfeel- Medium Bodied, Light Carbonation, Smooth, Easy on the palate, and sweetness finishes this one off. A slight syrupy and sticky feel also is on the palate.

Overall Impression- Talk about a hyped up brew last month! I bought 2 bottles of this, one for a trade with cousin and other to enjoy myself. I was pretty let down... The nose definitely didn't do anything but the flavor was nice. Would have liked to see a more chewy and fuller bodied beer here. See what you think...

Photo of ferrari29
3.95/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Beer poured from bottle into a stemmed Stella Artois tulip-shaped glass

A - Beer pours with a dark brown colored body; opaque; small amount of head, creme colored; no visible carbonation; floating yeast sediment remained in the beer, stood still in the beer, never moved giving the beer a jelly-like look; viscous;l good amount of lacing left behind

S - Heavy bourbon nose; brown sugar; roasted malt nose; very high ABV aromas; rich maple syrup sweetness; molasses; wood, like oak

T - Maple syrup taste; heavy and rich bourbon flavor; creamy vanilla bean; jam and molasses; brown sugar; sip finishes off with a sweet burned caramel taste, coupled with a high ABV flavor; oak

M - Thick consistency; slightly chewy; some carbonation; lingering brown sugar flavor

D - Good beer; seems to be a mash of different brew styles put together in a bourbon barrel; with no real distinct flavor profile, the brewers did a good job of trying something new and "out-of-the-box"; I really like this beer

Photo of Jeffo
3.95/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this one in a trade with Irishgurl4 many moons ago. Thanks again for the fun trade(s) Christine!

From a 750ml bottle into a snifter

APPEARANCE: Pours a two finger, thicker looking, fluffy, creamy-white head with good retention. Clear rust orange wth medium carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a foam cap and leaves some lacing on the top of the glass. A half wisp and ring remain until the end leavind some dots of lacing down the glass. Good looking beer for sure.

SMELL: Maple syrup, bourbon, oak and vanilla on the nose from the barrel aging. Some caramel and toffee sweetness, as well as some molasses and spicy alcohol as well. Nice nose on this one.

TASTE: Caramel and malple syrupy sweetness up front, as well as some bourbon, oak, vanilla and milk chocolate from the barrel aging. Aftertaste is bold and persistent with plenty of maple flavors, minty milk chocolate, sweet molasses and bourbon lingering on the palate. Nice and flavoful, though a touch boozy still.

PALATE: Medium body and carbonation. Creay creamy smooth on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes relatively dry on the palate. Very creamy smooth here.

OVERALL: This was a solid, solid beer. I think I preferred the stout aged in these barrels, but the old ale held its own as well. Some nice barrel flavors with hints of the base beer coming through here and there as well. An enjoyable beer I'd gladly drink again. Thanks again for the brews Irishgurl4. Much appreciated.

Photo of BedetheVenerable
3.95/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 750ml brown pop top, awesome label, into my Black Sheep half-pint goblet. Pop the top, with just the whisper of carbonation escaping.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful dark orange amber, nice clarity, and a strong pour produces a large light tan/dark ivory cap with good retention.

Smell: Really pleasant toasty malt and sweet caramel aromas lead up front, with a light note of fruity alcohol and a faint woodiness. Something sort of nutty that reminds me a bit of nougat. Not a shocking level of depth, but rich and inviting. So far, so good.

Taste: Don’t really get much in the way of maple or oak, but I was willing to risk that to let the alcohol calm down just a bit. I do think I get JUST a hint of maple on the finish, along with what might be just a ghost of tannic oak, but would I have picked out the maple w/out knowing it was there? Probably not. Sweet, toasty malt, sweet caramel, a combination of alcohol (big, but not hot) and firm hop bitterness (if not flavor or aroma) keep this from being cloying. A bit of fruity alcohol. That (pleasant) lightly-nutty, nougat note from the aromas is present here as well. Alcohol is definitely present, but feels just about right to balance out the other flavors.

Mouthfeel: Low-level, small, bubbled, steady carbonation and a rich, thick mouthfeel.

Conclusion: I definitely enjoyed this beer. The aromas scream ‘cold weather drinking’, the flavors are nicely balanced, especially for such a big beer, and it’s a nice example of a fairly traditional (at least in terms of flavor profile) take on the English Old Ale. If it was regularly available and cheaper, I’d probably pick one up every year or so. However, at the price point, and how hard you had to work to snag a bottle, it didn’t quite live up to expectations/the hype (but, for that matter, neither did CBS). Bottom line, I might be tempted to give this a 90 or so, if the price point were a bit lower. As is, I think it’s fair to score this around an 87 or 88.

Photo of GregSVT
3.95/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml capped bottle into a snifter

A: Pours a clear bourbon brown with a big very light tan head that fades to a big ring and leaves some nice lacing on the glass.

S: The nose is full of caramel, toffee, honey, vanilla, and a hint of maple. Definitely smells sweet.

T: The taste is seriously sweet but oh so good. Starts with a big vanilla presence that transitions to caramel, honey, and toffee along with a slight hint of maple. The taste borders on cloying...it's pretty damn sweet.

M: The feel is medium bodied and creamy.

O: The sweetness of this beer kind of detracts from the overall enjoyment but not so much that I won't finish the whole thing. I really was looking forward to this and it didn't disappoint. I may or may not try to get another one for aging...we'll see how I feel about it at the end of the bottle.

And survey says...too sweet. I don't see how aging this would make it any better...in fact it may get even sweeter.

Photo of Stunner97
3.94/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- dark brown with thick white head off pour that quickly fades to white lacing, small amount carbonation and very murky and cloudy

Smell- wow such great nose, vanilla, malt, syrup, and oak great nose,

taste- the taste is very very sweet up front and than has faint spice and hop at then end that trys to wrap it up with bit dryness on the finish, you do get some vanilla and oak and some maple, the flavor though good is not quite as complex as you are thinking may get off the vibrant nose, tons bourbon and booze, probably a bit boozy, may need age,

Mouthfeel-medium to full bodied with very smooth feel, can def get some warmth from full booze level

Drinkability/overall- This was very tasty and complex beer, would I call it world class probably not but certainly a world class nose, I would be interested to see what a bit of age would do in this beer, maybe I came into this beer with such high hopes but for the price I guess you should, certainly a very good beer just maybe tad hot right now and a bit less complex then I was expected, hmm alot going on for sure a bit boozy and sweet to be highly drinkable, that said I will look forward to what age will give my other bottle

Photo of mz3frs
3.93/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Med caramel with a thin head
N:Aroma is mostly of oak, a bit of alcohol
T:Vanilla, bourbon are the primary flavors I get. The maple comes through as it warms. A little boozy. Malt gets lost in the oak.
M: Full bodied, low cabonation
O: An enjoyable beer!

Photo of HoneyLamb
3.91/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased a 750 mL bottle from Liquor Cabinet in St Joseph, Michigan. Beer was refrigerated for about 45 minutes prior to it being opened.

Medium hard pour resulted in three finger head in my pilsner glass. Good film cohesion. Color was golden/amber, but I thought it was going to be a little darker...no big deal, though.

No heavy aromas, but light maple syrup smell definitely comes through. Expected more alcohol smell, but that wasn't there.

Taste didn't match smell. And because of that weak smell, the high-gravity hit me harder than expected. This beer's flavors came through when it warmed in the glass. I almost gave this beer a 3.5 taste, but the maple and molasses really came through as the temperature approached room temps. The oak was always there (cold or warm).

Photo of zac16125
3.91/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

750mL bottle into a snifter

A big thanks to coreyfmcdonald for sending this one over in a trade!

A: Pours a dark copper brown. Its opaque with a small amount of sedimentation suspended in the glass and just over 1 fingers width of light tan head, which dissipates down fairly quickly and leaves effectively zero lacing.

S: Sweet, almost tart, anise, apple. I don't really get much bourbon or maple, actually more similar to an apple brandy barrel. Really unique aroma, but not that great honestly, and not very Old Ale ish.

T: There is a unique almost tart quality up front, which is alright, but then its followed by some really great flavors including a sugary sweetness, bourbon, maple syrup, molasses, oak, toffee. Its fairly boozy, but not in a bad way. I also get some citrus type characters, and nutmeg. Again, this is very unique. Theres a lot going on here, its quite complex, but its missing a lot of the typical old ale qualities that I really enjoy and look for in the style. Maple syrup builds as it warms, bourbon barrel remains fairly faint though.

M/D: Full bodied, very low carbonation but that is appropriate, slightly syrupy (pun intended), ABV is certainly noticeable. All things considered though, drinkability is pretty good. Personally I like the low carbonation and syrupy quality that allows it to drink almost like a spirit.

O: Overall, Im pretty disappointed. Don't get me wrong, its a good beer for sure, it just didnt live up to expectations and IMO its not to style. I would definitely drink this again if offered to me, but I dont plan to seek out another botttle.

Photo of Brad007
3.9/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This has been lounging in my fridge for a while.

Pours a beautiful, if cloudy amber with a one-finger head into my glass.

Maple, molasses and bourbon stand out on the nose. Plum too. Very sweet.

Lots of bourbon upfront that's easily quelled by molasses and maple as well. Mildly syrupy, tart. Drinks more like a strong ale at times.

Warms the throat very well. Mellow with just hints of maple left for flavor at the back.

Whoa. Should have saved this for the first snowfall of winter.

Photo of yamar68
3.88/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a brandy snifter... amber gold body with good clarity except for all the little fuckers floating around in there... full finger of tan head that appears awfully boozy, large gauge carbonation, oily drapes of lace... beading with every movement of the glass.

Leafy tobacco notes, stale breakfast syrup, the heat of the alcohol is still apparent on the tail end of a good snort. Not crazy about this one judging by the nose alone.

Lots of oaky vanilla flavors on the palate accented by molasses and a distinctly maple sweetness, that same dry tobacco flavor shows itself here again, caramel and toffee malt characteristics. There's a strange lingering flavor attached to the booze bill that I can't exactly put my finger on. I can imagine how much smoother this would have been with a fresh maple syrup profile. This one has to be my least favorite of the Founders Backstage beers.

I can't see this one improving from here. Still very glad to have had the chance to try it out though. Drink 'em if you got 'em. I'll be pretty liberal with my rating since I think I should've had this one fresh.

Photo of angrybabboon
3.88/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cheers to Goblinmunkey7 for sharing this

Reviewed 3/4/12

Appearance: Somewhere between a light brown and a burnt orange - much lighter than I anticipated, honestly - off white head, quickly fades to a little ring, some wispy lacing

Smell: Malty - cooked malts, caramelized malts - some bourbon, alcohol - caramel sweetness, with a very slight touch of maple - a musty, damp basement aroma, too, which is rather unexpected

Taste: An interesting malt profile with some obvious barrel-aging - cooked malts, caramel malts, with some malt sweetness that blends with the maple sugar - a nice combination - some dry bourbon, wood - some alcohol

Mouthfeel: A bit thin, in my opinion, but good for an old ale (in general) - smooth, with some lingering alcohol

Overall: The maple works so well...

This is a really good old ale made better with a hint of maple syrup. It's not particularly earth-shattering, but it's very interesting.

Photo of Goblinmunkey7
3.88/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Slightly hazed rust/copper. Head is minimal and drops to a small ring in short order. Some of the haze drops as the beer warms.

Smell: Faint hints of bourbon, earth, and vanilla. Some sweetness jumps out front. Sharp bite of booze with a faint dusting of citrusy hops. Musty. Nice touches of bready malts and caramel sweetness. Maple sneaks through the back.

Taste: Malts like whoa. Sweet with caramel and toffee tones. Bourbon is prevalent and adds a big helping of vanilla and oak. Nice heat from the alcohol. Maple is buried on the finish of the sip. Very clean syrup flavor. Less aggressive than expected. Earthy musty finish.

Mouthfeel: Moderate body that comes in a bit thinner than expected. Carbonation is also a bit higher than I would expect from the style. Barrel aging seems to have thinned the base beer a bit. Alcohol dries the sips out.

Overall: A nice take on the barrel aged beer. The old ale really takes the bourbon flavors and uses them well. Maybe some age would round out some of the rougher edges and provide a bit more complexity.

Photo of homebrew311
3.87/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Florida9 for helping me out with this one.

A: pours a light clear golden, almost no head, minimal lacing

S: nose is big on the molasses along with vanilla, and bourbon, not picking up much maple on the nose

T: sugary and sweet at the beginning, a bit of boozy heat comes in, Creme brûlée character in there as well, maple is minimal. This tastes like a different beer than kaiser curmudgeon

Mf: thick syrupy body, low carb

O: this is suPer sweet and lacks the deliciousness that I recall from kaiser curmudgeon. Not getting a lot of maple at all.

Photo of jjanega08
3.84/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No freshness dating.

A= Pours a deep amber color with a small off white head on it that holds some retention for how small it is and some pretty nice lacing. When held to the light it is a hazy orange color.

S= The smell is nice oak aromas. A little vanilla and maple in it but not too much of an aroma. There is a snag of caramel malts but again sort of quiet on the odor.

T= The taste is a great mix of maple, vanilla, oak, bourbon, and sweet caramel malts. Mollasses is a major contributor to the sweetness I think. The flavor is much more potent than the aroma would lead you to believe and a little alcohol flavor comes through as well.

M= The mouth is a nice amount of carbonation and body.

O= This is a solid brew for sure. The flavor is no let down with it's complexity and depth. Tons of stuff going on there. The nose isn't too much to brag about and for the craziness I went through to get a bottle I would say I wouldn't do it all over for another bottle but hey, I got to try it and it was delicious.

Photo of ThickNStout
3.82/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750mL bottle from Mink's Package (Marietta, GA). 13.99. Served in a Terrapin snifter. 

Pours ruddy red with two fingers pale head. Cloudy with particulates aplenty. Small spots of occasional lacing. 

Smells of maple, vanilla, sugar and mild alcohol. 

Taste is a smooth blend of vanilla, maple, caramel, bourbon, earthy grass and an almost sour apple. Interesting and pleasing. 

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. 

Another tasty treat from Founders. Nice creamy blend of smooth flavor. Well done. 

Photo of MusicaleMike
3.81/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Beautiful clear amber color, but with only a minimal, frothy peach colored head that dies away after a few minutes and leaves nothing but sporadic scars of lacing on the side of the glass. Appears a bit lifeless.

The aroma is a wonderful mix of sweet caramel, maple, vanilla, booze, fig pudding.

CBH washes over the palate with an ease not often seen in beers over 11% abv. This beer is a sweet mixture of caramel, maple, bourbon, and booze soaked vanilla beans. This is punctuated by a alcoholic maple-figgy-bourbon quality on the exhale and aftertaste. There is only a subtle lingering bitterness....almost zero hop presence here. Dominated by the malts.

Thick, lame carbonation, and a bit oily. No heat though, and for a beer that is 11.9% and somehow eliminates the burn of raw alcohol, I am impressed.

Founders does such an amazing job of integrating barrel-aging with thier beers and somehow not making it a hot mess. This is not the most successful, but I think it was completely enjoyable, and for sure I would want to drink this again.

Photo of Sarlacc83
3.8/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle traded. Thanks!

A: Frail copper with a clean white head. Falls off the glass.

N: Malt and pineapple. Thick, dripping caramel. Maple and vanilla.

T: Butterscotch and toffee. Burnt brown sugar and caramel. This is surprisingly biting. Bourbon is faint here. Cotton candy. Alcohol is very well hidden.

M: Pleasantly heavy. Carbonation level is very good - not faint, but not dominant

O: Pretty good, but not amazing. It's really straddling the line between, burnt sugar, bitterness, and sweetness. Recommended, but might benefit from age.

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.74/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter.

3.5 A: Well hazed plum color. Two fingers of frothy beige head. Retention is below average, even for the ABV, but a decent lattice of lacing is left.

4.5 S: The maple syrup is huge in this. It's about twice as potent as in CBS. Molasses follows, then raisin, plum, tobacco, and apple fruitiness. The bourbon influence is minimal, but it does add an extra layer of complexity along with some oak. Plenty of caramel and a bit of toffee. Smells great and the alcohol is well hidden.

3.5 T: The taste is taken over by raisin and tobacco, which even pushed aside the maple syrup. Following those, molasses, plum, apple, oak, and maple syrup are found. The bourbon is a good bit stronger in the taste and it brings along a booziness that is expected with a 12% brew. The reason that I don't like this more is because it is pretty damn sweet. Not Bruery sweet, but sweeter than it needs to be. Otherwise, it is tasty.

3.5 M: Heavy body. Good moderate carbonation. Reasonably creamy, but it's a bit syruppy as well and gives a hefty chewiness.

3.5 D: It's tasty, but I wish it fermented out a bit more. Love the flavors, but just too much sweetness.

Photo of russwbeck
3.74/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On-tap in Churchkey in DC

A: Beautiful color. Deep amber, surprisingly clear without much head and minimal lacing. The color is really the best part of this beer, spectacular.

S: The aroma is a bit muted honestly. Sweet molasses, hints of oak and bourbon, but overall not a lot going on.

T: The taste is really nice, but a little lacking for what I expected from this beer. Molasses and maple syrup really create a huge sweetness that overpowers anything else. The oak and bourbon show up on the backend, but are certainly an afterthought. Sweet and boozy.

MF: Medium to light body with only a small amount of carbonation. The sweetness detracts from the drinkability.

O: This was good, but my least favorite of this series from Founders (Blushing Monks and CBS were both better). For $12/10oz I would honestly pass on this next time. I wouldn't hesitate, however, to pick up a bottle.

Photo of trxxpaxxs
3.73/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark honey with hues of red. There is very little head, but there is a solid amount of lacing left on the glass as it drinks.

S: The nose is malt, seaweed, honey, maple syrup. Smells like a solid old ale with a bit more sweetness.

T: It starts out with a burst of sweet and seaweed, but the awkwardness clears quickly and I get a lot of honey and maple syrup. There is a big boozy not in there as well, and it makes it's presence more evident in the finish.

M: Full bodied beer. It's think, coating, and syrupy This beer destroys the palate on contact, and lingers well past the final sip.

O: This beer is sweet and hot. It's ok, but it's not my favorite. I'd drink this beer again, but I won;t seek it out in the future.

Photo of Rhettroactive
3.72/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From 750mL bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 2/15/12
*From notes

-- Consumed side by side with a 2010 Founders Curmudgeon Old Ale --

A: A straight pour down the center of the glass yields a meager .25 finger white and bubbly head. Pink grapefruit-crimson in hue. Decent retention, collar and lacing.

S: Sweet. Quite sweet, in fact. Heavy gobs of maple are right there, and the bourbon fills in where the sap does not.

T: It's extremely sweet right out of the gates, and it never lets up. Unlike CBS, the base beer here just doesn't have the strength to stand up to the maple bourbon barrels, which overwhelm all other aspects of the brew. Sure there's more control here then say Kuhnhenn's BB 4D, but CBH just doesn't present the depth and concentration of flavor. The mid dries out a slight bit, though as it does the booze really wallops the palate. The back is jam packed with maple syrup, toasted coconut and vanilla. For as tasty as this is, the beer simply lacks the layers of flavor I've come to expect out of Founders barrel aged brews.

M: Unlike most of Founders offerings, the balance in the mouth is off. It takes a lot of swishing and chewing to get that frothy feel I so enjoy about good beer. It's a bit oily and simply undercarbed for my liking.

O: Put this on the shelf year-round and watch the rDev fall. I think that (yet again) the hype train has gotten a moderate hold of a reasonably good beer. This lacks key components of the best in-style, and the maple bourbon barrels overwhelm the delicate nuances of what an Old Ale should be.

I've put my other bottle in the cellar, hoping that a bit of age will solve some of these issues. But when they're rudimentary like this, I doubt the foundation will really change that much.

All in all a good (not great) beer, though it's certainly the weakest entry in Founders Backstage series to date.

Photo of siege06nd
3.68/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my CBS snifter...

A: Pours a slightly cloudy, bright ruby copper. About a half finger of cream colored head settles to a quarter finger. Pretty good lacing down the sides of the glass and good retention. The color is incredibly radiant and contrasts nicely with the head. I'm giving this a big thumbs up.

S: Lots of caramel, brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, biscuit malt, and oak.

T: The maple syrup is most apparent, along with molasses, vanilla, and caramel. Some dark fruit is back there also, as well as some light chocolate. The finish is very boozy and very tannic from the wood. Lingering bitterness after the finish from the woodiness. I know I described a lot of flavors, but they are all a bit muddled and the profile here becomes a bit one-not. Sweetness and booziness reign supreme, and complexity lacks ever so slightly.

M: A little thin. Full bodied, but all sweetness and booze. Give me some more malt presence, some more carbonation, and a greater evolution of flavor. This is where the Better Half takes a hit, and I think the blame can be pointed squarely at the Curmudgeon Old Ale base beer. I always thought it was a touch too thin and light. The barrel treatment in this beer certainly adds to it, but all the things the barrel imparts: sweetness, syrup, and woody tannins are a little too heavily weighted, mainly because the base beer can't balance them.

O: This is a solid brew and I am certainly happy Founders bottled it. But I don't think the base beer is enough to withstand a barrel treatment. What you end up with is a sugary, boozy ale, with some lingering complexities that are far too tepid. Certainly not bad, but not great. Probably my least favorite of the 750 mL releases up to this point.

Photo of Arbitrator
3.57/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Chilled bottle into a glass, courtesy of lurchingbeast. Thanks, Frank! From notes.

I thought this was an appropriate review to upload for #1300. To many more milestones of being a curmudgeon!

A: Pours a clear chestnut body with light tan head. Large bubbles recede into milky swirls on top of the beer.

S: Smells of toffee, caramel, honey, vanilla, bourbon, with a nutty maple accent. Sweet for sure.

T: CBH is big on vanilla in the taste; it reminds me of the first batch of Abacus in its potency. The flavor drops off a bit after; or rather, it becomes more balanced, but it becomes harder to pick out the nuances after the big vanilla punch. Caramel, honey, bourbon, with a touch of maple. The finish has the astringency of nut skin (I wish there were a better way to phrase this) and oak.

M: While the body is hefty, it drinks much lighter due to the crisp carbonation. In the finish, the flavor falls off in a lackluster fashion; kind of disappointing since the taste is a little simple to begin with (or rather, I perceive it that way as the vanilla overrides much of the nuance).

O: Not bad... But I can see why this one was a lot easier to get (reportedly) than Canadian Breakfast Stout. It's not Founders' best.

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