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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.

231 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 231
Hads: 961
Avg: 4.3
pDev: 10.93%
Wants: 425
Gots: 365 | FT: 14
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 231 | Hads: 961
Photo of Brad007
3.9/5  rDev -9.3%
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.

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Photo of HoneyLamb
3.91/5  rDev -9.1%
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).

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Photo of zac16125
3.91/5  rDev -9.1%
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.

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Photo of mz3frs
3.93/5  rDev -8.6%
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!

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Photo of Stunner97
3.94/5  rDev -8.4%
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

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Photo of ferrari29
3.95/5  rDev -8.1%
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

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Photo of Jeffo
3.95/5  rDev -8.1%
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.

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Photo of BedetheVenerable
3.95/5  rDev -8.1%
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.

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Photo of GregSVT
3.95/5  rDev -8.1%
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.

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Photo of claspada
3.96/5  rDev -7.9%
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.

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Photo of DCon
3.96/5  rDev -7.9%
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...

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.97/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pour shared by cbanker at DarthKostrizer’s place.

Pours a clear dark orange with a beige head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, and maybe some subtle maple aromas. Taste is pretty much the same along with an alcohol kick in the throat with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that I am glad I got to try but I think it’s pretty boozy at this point in time.

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Photo of ChiPool
3.98/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into Founder's snifter. Can't find a bottle date, but purchased back in February: consumed & reviewed 12/23/12.

I'm so accustomed to BA stouts, I forgot this was an old ale. I realized this upon the pour, as it is a medium amber color, with moderate carbonation & about a quarter-inch of cream colored head. It's cloudy: plenty of floaties present. The nose gives you no doubt about the bourbon presence: boozy, a touch of honey there as well. the booze is well blended on the palate, though: very little booziness there for a big boy like this. As this opens up, the molasses make itself more prominent. The bourbon & molasses pair well: not much there in bitterness at all. The mouthfeel is superb: just right. It gains a bit of density as it warms, but nicely balanced overall.

Nice change of pace for a BA option (old ale as opposed to a stout). My only complaint is that it is a touch heavy on the molasses. Make sure to have a friend when you open this...or hunker down!

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -7%

Bottle: Poured a hazy light dirty brown color ale with a medium size foamy head with average retention and minimal lacing. Aroma of sweet sugary notes with some vanilla and bourbon notes clearly identifiable. Taste is a mix of heavy caramelized malt notes with quite a dose of residual sugars and molasses with some vanilla and bourbon also noticeable. Body is quite full with medium carbonation with some wearing alcohol easily identifiable. Interesting experience for sure but maybe a bit too sweet for my taste.

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Photo of EgadBananas
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly translucent mahogany color, with a slight beige head. The aroma was definite oak, with some bourbon and sweetness. You can get some nutty syrup qualities, caramel and nuttiness. The taste is rather rich. Bit caramel notes, maple, oak, a tinge of bourbon, followed by a rather warming alcohol finish. It's a thick beer, almost chewy, full bodied and rich. It's definitely a chore somewhat.

I'm glad this was only a 12oz fliptop, otherwise, I don't know if I could commit to a whole 750 of this beast...

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Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dyan sent this one. Thanks! I included this beer in a blind tasting where it was sampled alongside King Henry, Mother of All Storms, Sucaba, Arctic Devil and Karl Strauss 23rd Anniversary.

Better Half pours a light shade of amber, decidedly lighter than I'd expect for an old ale (whatever that means by today's brewing standards). The head is thin and recedes quickly. The nose is sugary sweet, heavy on caramel malt flavors. Pleasantly barrel forward, though not as maple syrupy heavy as I was expecting; bourbon seems more dominant. The palate is similar, showcasing sticky, sweet pale and caramel malt flavors that are backed by even more sweetness from the maple syrup bourbon barrel. As the nose implies, there's more bourbon than maple syrup here, though I do get a nice maple undertone. The body feels a bit thin to me, and the finish is more dry than expected, and slightly astringent. Alcohol is fairly well hidden, which is certainly impressive given the 11.9% ABV. Quite good overall, but not a total knock-out like CBS.

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Photo of dorianmarley
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance is chestnut brown, with off-white head and nice lacing. There are visible carbonation bubbles similar to a soda.

Nose is a bunch of bourbon, burnt sugar, oak, vanilla, with a slight menthol.

Taste is initially alcohol, which blends into bourbon, buttery oak, vanilla, toasted marshmallow, and a bready aftertaste. I didn't get much of the maple syrup flavor, except for perhaps a faint, buttery sweetness.

Mouthfeel is a contrast of smoothness and medium carbonation.

Overall, I would like to be able to give it higher than a 4 for the $18 plus tax purchase price, and I suppose I could if I was more struck by the flavor. The flavors are bold. The alcohol is high. It is a beer that forces you to savor it. It is a memorable beer for sure; finely executed.

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Photo of John_M
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Blue Dog in Chalfont, during their wealth of riches event.

The beer pours a dark golden amber color with good head retention and lacing. Those comes across as sweet and strong, as I pick up vanilla, cherry cough drop, some light maple and a hint of hazelnut. The flavor profile replicates the nose, but is really dominated by the cherry cough drop and vanilla. The high abv. is definitely noticeable in this beer, though the beer is not at all hot or heavy on the palate. Mouthfeel is fairly full, and the beer has a long, rich, sweet finish.

While I thought this a pretty good beer, it was just a bit too sweet and boozy for me. I was able to try this side by side with frangelic mountain, and preferred that beer to this one.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bomber (2011 vintage) into a tulip glass. Pours nut brown/reddish with a white one-finger head. Lacings last very nicely throughout. Defiintely pick up maple syrup as advertised along with bourbon and some butter. Flavors of maple syrup is pronounced here, butter, and molasses. Thin headed with good carbonation. There is a bitter back finish after each sip. As much as I love the label, this beer is a bit uninteresting like the regular Curmudgeon. In any case, glad to have finally tried this one out from one of my favorite breweries.

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Photo of mothman
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks Andrew for sharing.

Pours a little white head. Color is an orange amber.

Aroma: lots of maple syrup and barrel flavors. Toffee, caramel, and lots of malts. A little mint. Bourbon and oak.

Taste: mimics the nose but there is a little less mint and more maple syrup. A little more sweet and malty. Nice barrel flavors.

Mouthfeel: warming and smooth. Medium to full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends sweet and syrupy.

Overall, a bit too sweet for me, but the flavors were good. The maple bourbon barrels were nice but they brought a mint flavor with it that I didn't like.

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Photo of brentk56
4.02/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear copper color with a small head that quickly fades to a ringlet; leaving a paucity of lacing action

Smell: The scent of oak, molasses and maple dominate though there is quite a sting on the nose from the ABV

Taste: Maple flavor up front, with the oak, molasses and booze adding character by mid-palate; leathery caramel in the middle, but the finish is oaky and dry but rather sweet in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with gentle carbonation; perfect for the style

Overall: This is one of those beers that will clearly improve with age; drinks nicely now, but I suspect that I would enjoy the impact a year or two would have on this beer

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Photo of barnzy78
4.02/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750mL bottle, shared with a friend. Pours light copper in color with a surprisingly thick, frothy head given the high ABV, holds good retention and leaves some lacing on the glass. Some yeast particles suspended in the ale also. Aroma is sugary sweet with vanilla, oak, toffee, caramel, and is quite boozy. Tastes are cloyingly sweet at times with notes of toffee, vanilla, sweet maple syrup, brown sugar, oak, booze, and faint white pepper on the finish. Not much for bourbon noted. Mouth-feel is thick and creamy, but finishes edgy from the booze. Overall, I think I got my hopes up a little too high for this one. For uniqueness, it's great and I'm glad I tried it, but I think I was expecting more from it. Excellent Founders quality nonetheless.

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Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
4.03/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a tulip

A: Pours a hazy dark purplish brown hue with a very slowly settling tan head. Bubbles rise through the beer like Neo dodging bullets in The Matrix. The liquid flows slowly but the bubbles flow even slower.

S: Smells sweet with caramel malt and red grapes with some alcohol twinge that favors the dark intricacies of bourbon or even cognac. Hints of potpourri and bright, sweet spiciness linger lightly on the nose; it’s curious, indeed.

T/M: Feel is very thick in the mouth; the bubbles didn’t lie. Caramel sweetness, molasses and alcohol twinge approach at first leading towards biscuit maltiness and touches of more red grape on the finish. Carbonation feels sharp at first but fades quickly.

This is a surprisingly thick, gracefully smooth, and elegantly complex beer. Would I put it on my pancakes? Probably. But then again, would I put any beer on my pancakes? Probably. Try this one if you have the chance, with or without pancakes.


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Photo of bound4er
4.03/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A. Cloudy, amber appearance with some noticeable floating pieces of gunk. Off white, fast breaking head.

S. Barrel influences of oak, vanilla, caramel, spice and pitted fruit. Very nice.

T. Potent stuff - oak, vanilla, caramel malt, alcohol - everything you'd expect from a barrel aged old ale. Finishes with a cherry infused, lingering bitterness.

M. Medium body with minimal carbonation. I would have liked a little more mouthfeel from this beer.

O. This is a strong effort from Founders though I am not a big fan of this style beer.

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Photo of tut2528
4.04/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

thanks to sleuthdog for opening this one during the tasting!

A: FLOATIES!!! pours a rust color bodied, with slight off-white 1/2 fingers worth of head fromation. no lacing what so ever.

S: peat, big maple sweetness, brown sugar, very subtle bourbon, dog food (seriously, there is a hint of dry dog food). no alcohol whatsoever

T: maple sweetness forward. vanilla finish, a slight hop note, a slight touch of bourbon in there as well. not as much complexity as i thought there would be.

M: lighty bodied, but it leaves a nice coating of sugary sweetness on the teeth and palate.

O: nice solid Old Ale, but nothing to get all crazy about IMO. its a sweet maple beer all the way around, but it lacks complexity to help balance this beer out and truly making it a phenomenal brew.

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Founders Curmudgeon's Better Half from Founders Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 231 ratings.