Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "auto-renew."

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join our email list →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.

Founders Bolt Cutter - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Bolt CutterFounders Bolt Cutter

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

231 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 231
Hads: 1,316
Avg: 4.01
pDev: 12.22%
Wants: 216
Gots: 699 | FT: 68
Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States | website

Style | ABV
American Barleywine | 15.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Thickfreakness on 11-03-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bolt Cutter is a cellarable barley wine with an ABV of 15%. Dry-hopped with a mountain of Cascade hops, it’s balanced by a malty sweetness and spicy complexity, resulting from barrel aging some of it in bourbon barrels, some in maple syrup-bourbon barrels and some not at all (standard fermentation only). We’ve allowed the beer to mature in bottles and kegs since July so that it would be perfect for its release next month. Bolt Cutter pours a deep copper color and is best sampled at different temperatures to allow the flavors to unfold.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 231 | Hads: 1,316
Photo of mdfb79
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From 11/28/12 notes. Had this on tap at the Blind Tiger VSK event in NYC. Had a sip from a friend and then an 8 oz. pour.

a - Pours an amber-clear reddish color with one inch of white head and low carbonation evident. Looks as expected.

s - Smells of bready malts, bourbon, oak, toasted malts, alcohol , caramel malts, toffee, and light vanilla. Good, but much more bready than I was expecting, and a decent amount of alcohol.

t - Tastes of bready malts, toasted malts, graham cracker, bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel malts, dark fruits, toffee, alcohol, butterscotch, and biscuit. Again, tons of bread and toasted malts, but more dark fruit and caramel here than the nose. A small step up from the nose for me, but the alcohol is still there too.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Pretty thick and nice body, and some alcohol heat.

o - Overall I found this to be a good BA barleywine, but not great. While it does not taste liek it is necessarily 15% ABV, it is strong and the alcohol is there. Tons of bready and toasted malts, and some nice bourbon, I have one bottle of this and will hold onto it for a year or two to see if it mellows out a little bit. Good but not as good as some of the other Founders special beers.

 1,230 characters

Photo of mdaschaf
4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a very nice orange color with a one finger off-white head with great retention, lasting for the majority of the time it took to drink it. Sticky lacing forms down the sides.

S: Wow, surprisingly hoppy, lots of pine and citrus upfront with some caramel, toffee, and oak that come forward. Lots of vanilla comes out in the middle. It was rather resiny with a little bit of alcohol at the end.

T: More hops upfront, very piney mixed with some grapefruit. The hops transition to some caramelized sugar, vanilla, bourbon, oak, and a little bit of maple.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation. Slightly boozy, but it doesn't really impede the drinkability.

O: As someone that isn't a huge barleywine fan, I liked this beer quite a bit, probably because of the barrel aging. Surprised at how hop forward it was, but I am sure this will fade with time. Great beer to have for thanksgiving dinner.

 919 characters

Photo of MasterSki
4.17/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by someone at Zwanze Day. Chris I think? Served in a Zwanze glass.

A - Light off-white foam settles to wisps, a thin collar, and minimal lace. Mostly transparent amber body.

S - Maple, caramel, light vanilla, a hint of bourbon, brown sugar, some nutty notes. There's perhaps a touch of alcohol as this warms up. For an 'American' barleywine there's fairly low hop presence; there's perhaps a bit of pine mingling with the booze.

T - The taste is similar, with notes of rum cake, caramel, maple, honey-drizzled bread, and bit of oaky vanilla. Not a ton of bourbon flavor here; just nice sweet barleywine flavors that manage to avoid getting overly cloying thanks to a low but sufficient amount of hop bitterness. Alcohol is better hidden as well.

M - Some definite alcohol heat at this stage, but nothing overwhelming for 15%. Smooth texture, medium-full body, lower carbonation, and a mildly tannic finish. Perhaps a bit undersized for 15%, but still fairly big.

D - I was skeptical this would be good, but I ended up really enjoying this beer; enough so that I went out and bought a bottle. I suspect it will be excellent in 6-12 months, but it's enjoyable in small quantities right out of the gate. Congrats to Founders on 15 years!

 1,253 characters

Photo of Huhzubendah
2.14/5  rDev -46.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Shared by Paul.

Thanks...sorta. The beer appears a who cares irrelevant hue with a it doesn’t matter head. The aroma brings a please don’t scent with a shitload of unnecessary hops and huge boozy sweetness. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Tons of malt and hops thrown together with no sensitivity or balance. Overwhelming alcohol and sweetness. What a disappoinment. No thanks.

 399 characters

Photo of stakem
3.36/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Aawwweee shit. Another fouders big bottle series. As luck would have it, local advocate of beer Orangesol tipped me off to a place that had bottles for sale. This was my first time purchasing one of these "backstage?" 750's with no bottle limit or secret handshake at the door granting me access to such a privilege.

I opened this at a tasting I hosted this past weekend that was stout themed. (Im a douche like that.) Color me excited for this: wearing my bold cutter hat, founders shirt, bolt cutter boobie tassels and matching underoos. Ok, none of that is true except for the tasting and opening part. Poured into a tulip, the brew appears a hazed copper orange with 2 fingers of frothy yellowish tan head. Patchy webs of lace stick to the glass and display solid powers of retention. There is ruby clarity noted when held to the light along with a lighter yellowish coloring around the edges.

The nose has fruity, citrus, floral and pine aromatics primarily centric to hop charcter. This is pretty much what the entire focus of the nose is about with hints of herbs and a bit of catty appeal. There is some solvent alcohol cutting through with a mild tingle of accenting caramel sticky candy sweetness.

The taste is all about the hops with a huge solvent to fusel alcohol inclusion. Focusing on the hop character it is fruity, floral, pine-like, herbal and a bit catty. Did I mention solvent booze is readily apparent numbing the tongue more with each sip? Hints of caramel grain attempt to poke through but with no residual sweetness. Ample to excessive bitterness with alcohol running rampant. Almost like mandrin oranges and tannic dry woodiness are the last things noted.

This is medium bodied with a modest amount of carbonation. It has a big alcohol impact and hoppiness. This is like vodka with a splash of resinous DIPA added. Aging would be wonderful to tone the booze down but having the hops fade would leave this pretty boring and lifeless. It will be interesting to see how this developes but you wont catch me buying any more of this.

 2,058 characters

Photo of drabmuh
4.07/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Churchkey DC's Founders Anniversary party with a few other founders offerings. Served in a snifter. 10 ounce pour. Beer is clear and orange-ish with a soft white head with low retention, no lacing and low carbonation. Looks fine.

Aroma is nice. Bourbon, sweet, malt. Aggressive. A little heat as well.

Beer is dry on the finish, light on the body but maintains the sweetness upfront. The bourbon and oak are lost in the palate, maybe the ABV is thinning the beer too much. Overall it is a good beer but from Founders I was expecting an amazing barrel aged experience. One of the poorer showings from their BA beers honestly. I might have it again.

 661 characters

Photo of tdm168
4.38/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to jtd1969 for sharing this bottle.

A - murky orange with a big, off white head that has great retention

S - huge bready aroma with some sugary notes

T - bready, burnt sugar, caramel, sticky, alcohol, mild bitter finish

M - full bodied, warm, well carbonated

This in my opinion is a fantastic beer. The 15% is only slightly noticeable. The malt is big, sticky, and flavorful. The burnt sugar notes were fantastic throughout. This is one of the better beers that I have had recently. I definitely this is a beer that people should be checking out.

 558 characters

Photo of smakawhat
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass.

Pours out of the bottle like golden caramel, hits and makes a simple one finger head, very creamy and thick, perhaps off tan in color, a very light beige. Body color is a real nice peach orange and hints of red, with very slow rising carbonation coming up, and crystal clear. The beer is really good looking.

Nose is a bit simple and strange all at once. A fascinating mix of over-ripe melon, slightly acidic and sour, with a hint of caramel like sweetness malt in the background. Not bad but and odd sense, some sour and light vinegar comes out a bit.

Palate hits with a big rush. Thick caramel malt matching the nose of this strange large melon character. Quite large, but also sort of odd in a way. The body has a little tongue playful carbonation up front, but is quickly subdued by the malt thickness. Sweetness comes out a little bit more with warmth.

Overall it's fairly interesting and fun, but not the greatest tasting barleywine I've had and it's over ripe sour fruit angle is sort of bizarre. Luckily drinks well at such a high abv, but I wouldn't pay a lot of money for this.

 1,136 characters

Photo of johnnnniee
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazy burnished copper with a huge frothy whit head that persists forever. Aromas of sweet sugary malt, brown sugar, pine and earthy hops with a touch of alcohol and a hint of dried fruit. The flavor is sweet rocket fuel. Sweet sugar, molasses, prunes and cherries with a solid shot of earthy pine hops. The alcohol is present enough to remind you that this is a big beer, but I've had more obtrusive alcohol presence in smaller beers before. There's a solid shot of hop bitterness I would assume to counter the huge malt bill that this must have. Medium to thick body with a moderate level of carbonation, and a sweet syrupy resinous lightly hot mouthfeel. I enjoyed sipping on this for most of the night. It is a touch hot, maybe that will mellow with time, but I enjoyed it.

 793 characters

Photo of BARFLYB
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Capone's in SEPA.

Bolt Cutter comes in a goblet with a small trim of off white bubbles up top leaving a skim of foam for a bit before fading off, no lace but some swirls bring it back. The body is a deep amber golden color that is on the bright side, not much activity after a bit.

Smell is big on caramel and toffee with some toasted malt characteristic. Bourbon and maple in the scent. Sweet and alcoholic, I can sniff it from the glass cold and warm. Not a distraction. Not well integrated yet, I can see this blooming later on becoming a sweeter scent as a nice hop presence is noted.

For 15% this can be a lot hotter than it is, the alcohol is masked but not fully so it seeps out in the taste all over. The hops come forefront bringing out some sharp pine, with a mix of bourbon and slight maple tones leading to some more sweet caramel. English in nature that will mature when the hops drop.

Body is above medium with a harshness from the hops and alcohol mix, that is not all that scorching. A hoppy barleywine now, that probably will tone down with time. Carbonation is muted but there and keeping the beer from being dead.

A pretty good barleywine that has both English and American characteristics with the Founders touch. If I find a bottle I'll see where it takes me. Right now, I could not see drinking more than 8oz's though as it's ripe.

 1,369 characters

Photo of Gobzilla
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: poured a pale amber brown in color with pale yellow highlights and a thin head that left very little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: lots of malty sweetness upfront in the aroma with grassy earthy notes, booze heat, plenty of hop character and mild caramel but with slight brown sugar presence.

T: caramel sweetness was more noticeable on the palate with a good hoppy profile that was accompanied by grassy earthiness, plenty of bready malts, the booze was all up in your grill with a touch of underlying brown sugar.

M: the brew was medium in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a sweet, malty, hoppy, boozy and crisp finish.

O: I honestly was a little let down from all the hype but then again it's just hype after all. It can be that I've had some AMAZING barelywines lately too. I was just decent and nothing more

 843 characters

Photo of liamt07
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Founders 15th Anniversary Party, into a snifter.

Redder brown, with a very small offwhite head that only leaves some whisps of retention. Nose of bourbon, maple, sweet caramel and malts. Some peripheral citrus, alcohol and cotton candy even perhaps. Taste has some maple, bourbon, white raisin, alcohol, sticky caramel and bitter citrus. Alcohol is well hidden but not completely disguised. A tasty American Barleywine, but not mind-blowingly awesome.

 466 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.34/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a reddish amber color with decent clarity on the first pour. Subsequent pours add some yeasty sediment, as this sample has spent much of its life cellared or in the fridge. The aroma is sweet, sugary, and malty. It hides the booze well, but there is some bourbon and clean alcohol to the nose as well.

The flavor has layers of sweetness, going from brown sugar, to molasses, and finally maple. I did not initially know this was a maple bourbon barrel aged beer but as I drank it, the characteristics became obvious. The beer has mellowed a bit with age I am sure, it drank like 10-11% ABV beer, not 15% + ABV beer. Nice sweet flavors and a modest alcohol bite.

Overall, this is a nice beer and one that may not have even peaked yet. Founders has at times retired beers only to produce them years down the line. I will hold out hope for this one.

 863 characters

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.43/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured in to CBS Snifter.

A - Dark amber; slightly translucent. Half a finger of tan coloured head.

S - A big sweetness up front with caramel and toffee aromas coming through. Some citrus and a bitter hop presence also come through. No oak is detectable in the nose.

T - Big sweetness from the malt base up front that adds caramel, toffee and brown sugar flavours is balanced out by a massive hop bitterness and a touch of citrus. A warming alcohol presence also helps to balance out the massive sweetness. The oak is present but is very much secondary in this beer. Although a warming alcohol presence is noticeable, the alcohol is very well hidden overall considering the 15% ABV.

M - Full body; thick and chewy. Light carbonation. Full of sticky hop oils.

 763 characters

Photo of vfgccp
4.49/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Barcade BK, Founders tap night.

A - Low offwhite head with ok lace and retention. Cloudy burnt sienna, cognac body.

S - Huge apple brandy nose, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, dried apple, light caramel.

T - Soft round booze, caramel, dried apricot, vanilla extract, sharp oak, dark brown sugar. Long afterglow of warm booze caramel and nutmeg.

M - Expansive mouthfeel with a solid body. Great staying power without feeling syrupy.

O - Insanely smooth. I can't believe this is 15%; it could definitely get you into a world of trouble if you're not paying attention. A stellar barleywine.

 598 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.49/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a short lived off white head even with a fairly aggressive pour... the brew is clear dark orange... only random dots of lacing... I keep looking for legs in the glass.

The nose is nostril coating malty with thick vanilla and maple essence... the bourbon is more than present and the malty sweetness is only balanced by a decent piney hoppiness.

Flavor mirrors the aroma and shows brown sugar and something that I associate with candied pecans... bitterness is thankfully still fairly present after all this time so is a piney/grapefruit zest hoppiness... could use more hops though.

Medium/big bodied with a light carbonation that only accentuates the thickness on the palate... pretty damn hot even after at least 10 months in the bottle.

A bit of a mess at this point, but a bit more refined than when it was first released... I have a couple more but would like to get some to put away for the long haul... I think this one is going to be muddy for quite a while and then emerge a better beer.

3.25/3.5/3.5/3.5/3.5

 1,033 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.06/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Poured a golden amber color with a small tannish cap ich quickly reseds leaving a minimal lacing and minor lacing clinging to the glass.

S: Booze soaked toffee, light vanilla and honestly...that is about it sadly.

T: The flavor is boozey and sweet upfront with a load of toffee, some btterscotch, faint maple, lighter fruits with a modest Earthiness. The finish is rather hot, sweet, thin and dry yet slightly sticky.

M: Medium-bodied,hot, slightly sticky feel. This beer needed more body. Th alcohol can sometimes give the appearance of thinness and this is also my major complaint against Mother of All Storms.

O: This beer has great potential., While I think the booze sting will subside leaning toward fuller a body and mouthfeel in the future I feel this beer was just to much to soon and to young.

 813 characters

Photo of corby112
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a slightly hazy golden amber color with tangerine hues and a two finger frothy off-wife head that quickly settles into a thick, lasting cap.  Streaks of soapy lacing left behind.  

Sweet, slightly leathery malt aroma with a complex hop profile balancing out the boozy sweetness.  Citrus/tropical notes of pineapple, tangerine and grapefruit followed by resinous pine, grass, leathery malt, caramel, toffee and biscuit.  There's a touch of alcohol in the nose but more subtle than expected.

Full chewy body with a huge blast of bitter, earthy hops that linger over the sweet and earthy/leathery malts. Dank, bitter and resinous with an earthy/grassy hop bite followed by sweet caramel malt backbone and subtle heat.  Sticky pine needle flavor along with grapefruit and orange peel sweetness countered by caramel malt and toffee toward the finish.  Really well balanced and smooth with the high abv excellently masked.  Would never have guessed that  it was 15%.  Another solid entry in the backstage series but not worth the exorbitant price.

 1,059 characters

Photo of rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer pours a slightly dense but clear aged copper brown body with a bubbly light tan head that sticks to the glass and sluggishly slides back into the beer.

S- the nice sweet caramel malt aroma has some candy sugar notes that come through as the beer warms and a slight spicy character with some ether hints in the finish.

T- The smooth sweet caramel malt grows as the beer warms and takes on a brassy wheat malt flavor. The finish of pungent hops and alcohol gently round out each sip.

M- The medium mouthfeel has a thick texture in the finish that is thinned by an alcohol warmth that hangs in the mouth.

O- This is a big monster barleywine with a gentle alcohol heat for 15% ABV and I was surprised at how much hops presence was in there aswell. It was a nice beer to taste but I would have preferred it without as much alcohol. This beer was a night starter and night ender in one bottle.

 934 characters

Photo of tobelerone
4.34/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I'm revisiting this beer 2.5 years after originally rating it a solid 4. The time in the cellar has rendered this a masterpiece - everything is in perfect balance now, the hops are toned down but there is still a faint bitterness in the finish counterbalancing the massive notes of toffee and brown sugar. Secondary components of oak and whiskey deepen the experience.

I'm a barleywine fanatic and have had many of the world's best at this point. Properly cellared Bolt Cutter is up there near the top of the food chain now. Maybe not that god tier echelon, but close. Wish I had more of these and hadn't drank or traded the half dozen or so I had so early in the game.

 670 characters

Photo of kscaldef
2.21/5  rDev -44.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

The creation of a new style? Possibly the first quintuple IPA. Very hoppy and very strong, and little else to be said about it. Medium amber color, with no head. The body is fairly thin, which exposes the high alcohol content in a harsh and unenjoyable way. No barrel character to be found. Not actually a drinkable beer. Maybe it'll mellow with time, but I don't have high hopes.

 380 characters

Photo of Axnjxn
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750 ml capped bottle into a tulip.

pours a dark hazy Orange with a slight head. smell is huge on booze and raisins. taste is very sweet and boozy. lots of dark fruits in this one...raisins, figs. full bodied for sure. sipper. low carbonation. ABV apparent.

overall good barleywine. would have benefited from barrel aging.

 323 characters

Photo of ppoitras
4.23/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750ml bottle received via Growling at the Moon. Thanks for the brew, Dan!

Poured into a DFH snifter, formed a 1/2" tan head over the clear reddish coppper brew. Head lasts tremendously for such an abv brew, with leggy, going-nowhere lacing. Aroma is fruity, sweet, and boozy.

Taste starts syrupy sweet, a quick fruitiness in the middle, then a strong slap of hops bitterness followed quickly by alcohol. Slight numbness lingers after the swallow. Even so, not as forward with the EtOH as some less abv brews I have had. Mouthfeel is slickery smooth, and drinkability is good. I was fearing a Beast-like affront, but I actually enjoyed this brew, as substantial as it is.

 674 characters

Photo of wordemupg
3.81/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle poured into balloon snifter 14/6/14

A clear amber liquid, a couple bubbles, thin film leaves a few polka dots, wide legs down the side

S still lots of pine and citrus, this would've been a palate wrecker fresh, faint bourbon, pancake syrup, orange peel, hard toffee, lots of booze

T more booze, heaps of brown sugar and caramel, faint wood, sweet bourbon, more citrus then the nose, a little sweet and boozy but enjoyable

M thank and syrupy, my lips are stuck together, heat hits the chest and throat, rind and brown sugar on the finish

O I liked it but I didn't love it, still hoppy, very sweet and boozy, I'm glad I didn't try to take this one down solo

Fruet was a hard act to follow and perhaps didn't help this ones cause, its good beer with a little barrel, lots of sugar and booze, one of those beers I want to try fresh and with 5+ years on it

 872 characters

Photo of rudzud
2.88/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2012 vintage split with JLindros.

A - Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a crystal clear honey hue with a big one finger head that faded to leave suds.

S - Aromas of sweet malts, bourbon, cardboard, lots of booze.

T - Taste is sticky sweet caramel, cardboard, alcohol is hidden but loads of cloy sugar.

M - Mouthfeel is sticky sweet, cloy, messy.

O - Overall this beer was a complete and utter mess, awful.

Serving type: bottle

 436 characters

Founders Bolt Cutter from Founders Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 231 ratings.