Founders Brewing Company

Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
English Old Ale
Ranked #23
Ranked #4,553
4.05 | pDev: 10.37%
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
Notes: Think classic seafaring ports, local pubs and weathered old fishermen. This old ale is brewed with molasses and an insane focus on the malt bill. Then Oak-Aged. The result is a rich, malty delight that's deceptively smooth and drinkable.

50 IBU
Reviews: 1,350 | Ratings: 4,847 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of VoodooBear
4.04/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz. brown bottle with no dates, served in a tulip glass.

Appearance: It develops a thin, half finger head that disappears almost immediately and leaves behind a layer of big bubbles that stay until the end. It's a murky, light brown color.

Smell: It's a sweet smell of plums, raisins, molasses and malt with a hint of alcohol in the background.

Taste: It's sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. There's dried fruit, molasses and brown sugar. It finishes with an earthy, oak note and some alcohol.

Mouthfeel: It's smooth, slightly oily and strong but not heavy at all with a medium body and low carbonation.

Overall: Even though it goes heavily towards the sweeter side, it's not cloying and the sweetness is not one dimensional. There's a lot of different elements to unpack and discover which makes this a really good beer.

 842 characters

Photo of Viaduck
3.99/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Burnt orange in color with a nice light tan head. Update: the 2nd 12oz bottle was much flatter, headless. Pleasant aroma of molasses, plum & alcohol. Taste is bitter sweet. Nice flavor: plum, raisin, molasses,alcohol, brown sugar, oak flavors & malt. Medium viscousity. Excellent.

 280 characters

Photo of MercInc
3.99/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Having lived in Great Britain for 4 years, I have a taste for English and, particularly Scottish ales and stouts. This is a full bodied brew that is very smooth drinking.

 172 characters

Photo of DanO1066
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draught 8oz snifter at the Brass Tap here in Baltimore. Definitely, prefer this to the "...Better Half", and even the Smuttynose "Really Old Brown Dog". Nice color with a head that eventually disapates leaving a nice ring. Malty smell & taste with a smooth feel that hides an alcohol punch.

 290 characters

Photo of Samlover55
4.12/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into Tulip
Bottled on 12/30/16 2 years old
Pours a deep red almost brown with thin tan head
Aroma is caramel, oak, and yeast
Taste follows the nose with a big malty start intense but not overly sweet caramel, golden raisin, yeast undertones, followed by oaky dryness and subtle bitter finish
The feel is medium-to-full bodied, syrupy feel, but has a medicinal dryness as well
Overall, I did not have this beer fresh (only bought it 'aged' recently) but this a super balanced complex easy drinking sipper, I'm really glad to have found this.

 554 characters

Photo of HoppingMadMonk
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ruby orange color . Just above a nedium body , just below average carbonation with an overall nice feel .
Aroma is dark fruit, malty, molasses, a little floral candy like smell.
Taste is definitely dark fruit and molasses first. Mild hoppy bitterness shows up in the middle and lingers in the aftertaste. There's a sweetness that is pleasant and not overpowering that works well with the mild hop bitterness.
Overall a great beer, can only have one at a time but its definitely worth trying

 503 characters

Photo of JimboBrews54
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Curmudgeon is right, this is one bitter old man. This has a strong bitterness and a strong fermented taste to it. This is a beer full of character, balanced and a little spicy, along with bittersweet.

 200 characters

Photo of Dragginballs76
4.24/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - Pours deep rusty burnt amber color with nice tan head, lots of sticky lacing.

Aroma - Big whiff of sweet molasses, big caramel malts, plum, fig, raisin, burnt sugar and oak.

Taste - Nose is much sweeter than the well balanced taste. combination of sweetness from molasses, brown sugar rich maltiness. Nice barrel coming through, great dark fruit plum and fig. Such well balanced flavors.

Feel - Medium bodied, creamy slightly warming feel other than that the alcohol is well hidden.

Overall - Just a well done old ale, great flavors well balanced and really easy drinking.

 590 characters

Photo of HopsAreDaMan
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A month or so ago I had one of the last one of these, aged two or three years. That one held up very well. Further, I remember liking all of the ones I had previously (fresh or aged).

 183 characters

Photo of TooManyGlasses
4.11/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle dated Jan 2017. Pours a slightly hazy copper/caramel colour with small off white head. Smells of dark fruits, molasses, caramel malt. Taste starts as thick caramel malt, dark fruits but then overpowered by the bitter yet somehow sweet hoppiness that coats the mouth and hangs along with some prominent booziness. Amazing unexpected creamy mouthfeel with bitter finish but surprisingly smooth - better as warmed. Bitterness was a bit of a surprise, but really good - especially that creaminess on the palate.

 517 characters

Photo of beersampler6
3.71/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Very nice golden-amber color, nice head with some lingering lacing. Smells of malt, caramel and some mild hops. Tastes of some floral and citrus zest hops, caramel, biscuit with strong malt backbone. Nice smooth mouthfeel that was slightly creamy. Small amount of carbonation and alcohol taste comes through a fair amount. Great beer but a little heavy and would likely be hard to drink multiples.

 397 characters

Photo of polloenfuego
4.24/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Quick: Look is quite nice, amber gold with a nice finger worth of head. Retention is good, and lacing is quite nice. The smell is really damn nice, lovely malts, treacle, fruits and then a finish of hops. Flavor follows the nose, this is a malt lover's paradise. The sweetness is not cloying at all, but rather works with the beer making everything else jump out too. The feel is full heavyweight that coats the mouth nicely. Carbonation is low, and you can feel the booze. This is a damn nice old ale. I would have as much of this as I could find if possible, but that just isn't possible. I will always seek this one out.

 633 characters

Photo of Jeffgosia6
4.18/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Flavors of rasin, stewed fruits, perfect carbonation, nice color, nice abv at 9.8 without any alcohol kickback in the finish. Yum. Now I just wish I could pronounce it to tell others about it.

 192 characters

Photo of Brenden
4.18/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Notes from 2012 and 2017 are eerily similar, and they wouldn't be much different from more recent tastings.

L: This one has a brassy edge to an otherwise thick, dense red-orange. It grows a fluffy copper-tinged head with lots of density to it and plenty of stick.
S: Sweetness on the nose, brown sugar and dark fruits with heavy malts, a whiff of heat, and a bit of spicy hops. Lots of complexity.
T: The complexity carries to the flavor, and I find it delicious rather than muddled. Sweet, a bit hoppy, bready, and tinny all at once, it really moves across the palate. Alcoholic heat is certainly present but not overwhelming. Spice, floral notes, lots of fruit and caramel, some molasses, and a bit of dough.
F: Smoother than one might expect in a medium body, plenty of bite with a light sting and, when fresh, a hint that it could go sticky or cloying but I find it stopping just short of doing so.

 903 characters

Photo of OliverWilde
2.7/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

2 year old bottle in tulip. Flavor kicks in half way through. Ring of foam and lacing all the way down. A lot of great flavors up front from the oak and malt which are there in the nose along with sweetness. The back end however is kind of watery and tasteless. I like that the nose is deceptively sweet while it's fairly dry tasting. I think perhaps a stronger hopping could enhance this beer's overall flavor.

 411 characters

Photo of RaulMondesi
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Like Columbus sailing the ocean blue, this is epic. Rich, old flavors like your grandma playing plinko, I’m into this. All around solid like the one you took this AM.

 168 characters

Photo of CitizenGenet
5/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Cellared for 13 months beyond the date of bottling.

Poured into a tulip glass. No head. Beautiful dark amber color with abundant sediment suspended throughout.

Figs, molasses, Kentucky bourbon, young Duoro wine, Christmas fruitcake. Sturdy malt on the back-end. A very special ensemble of flavors. Rich. Slow sipping required.

 335 characters

Photo of Cylinsier
4.45/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5


Pours clear amber, yellowish white film for a head retains indefinitely.

Aroma is rich caramel, molasses, biscuit, and toffee.

Tastes of biscuit, toffee, caramel, molasses, a bit of smoke, oak, bourbon, and tobacco.

Medium to full body, light tingly carbonation on the tongue. Booze warmth going down.

Very nice, rich flavor with a mix of sweet and earthy elements. A slow sipper but well worth the time.

 415 characters

Photo of Cthulhusquid
4.41/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Look: One finger white head, brown-orange body.

Smell: Same as below.

Taste: Brown sugar, tootsie roll, mild oak. A slight hint of dark fruits and vanilla.

Feel: Medium body and carbonation, balanced. Barely any hint of alcohol.

 231 characters

Photo of BenHoppy
5/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a beer I had fresh and rated as a 4.4 but now that I have aged it for 20 months and come back to it, it is a totally different beer. This is definitely a 5 now for how complex it really is. So let's start with fresh:

It has a caramel scotch like appearance that also has a scotch aroma that has hinting flavors of scotch along with oaky vanilla chips, molasses, and caramel that pairs especially well with a good cigar. Furthermore it is very smooth and well balanced.

Now 20 months later I pour it into a snifter at cellar temp:

Tons of carbonation is left in the bottle, half the glass is filled with bubbly foam that quickly dissipates to a froth. It no longer looks like caramel scotch but it more so resembles a barley wine with its murky brown appearance.

The aroma is brown sugar, molasses barley wine malt with really no presence of scotch or oak. Almost resembles an English barley wine vs American barley wine

Now the flavors is the real kicker, instead of a caramel, scotch, oaky vanilla flavors I get now strawberry raspberry molasses dipped in chocolate with hints of maple and vanilla. what the hell? Where is the oaky scotch flavors? I can't taste oak at all. Is this the same beer? This has now turned into an almost dessert beer and no I would not recommend it with a cigar, but fresh cigar pairs well. Where did the strawberry and raspberry flavors come from? This is why it deserves a 5. There's more to this beer than drinking it once. Come back to it and the whole dynamics of it change. Almost reminded me of a J.W. Lee barley wine for its complexity. Good work Founders! Cheers!

 1,632 characters

Photo of Bruno74200
4.06/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Curmudgeon brings some nice toffee and hoppy notes. Some molasse is present too. The oak aging brings some woody and vanilla notes as well. An enjoyable brew. They won't brew it in 2018 so I'm glad I had the chance to try this one in 2017

 238 characters

Photo of jkblr
4.2/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottled 1/13/15 (cellered 3 years) poured into a snifter at fridge temp 9.8% ABV. The beer pours a murky muddy brown color with minimal off white head. The head recedes to a thin ring and leaves no lacing. The aroma is dark sugar, oak and some booze. The taste is warming caramel candy with some oak, vanilla and booze in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, adequately carbonated and surprisingly dry in the finish. Overall, very good. I wasn't a fan of this fresh as the molasses was overpowering. It has evolved over three years into a fantastic old ale. Too bad it's out of production.

 607 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A chestnut brown like pour, is this related to Backwoods Bastard? I know there is Dirty Bastard, then barrel aged = backwoods, but this? I dunno. Looks similar to those. Lighter tan head 1/2" deep. Aroma of oak, molasses, brown, Maris otter malt feels.

Taste, oooh a nice rich sipper. Plenty of caramel, molasses like sweetness matched up with oak and a hefty malt bill that is still plenty shy of porter/stout territory. I'm getting light smoke as if this oak was from a bourbon barrel stave. Alcohol pretty well hidden. Not bitter, not hopped up. Its like a lower hopped English barleywine even. Totally recommend this to someone who likes their beers smooth and strong and is opposed to hoppy or sour stuff. This is a malt forward beer well suited for a cold night.

 785 characters

Photo of Krajnyak
4.63/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Absolutely magic. This ones big, but very tasty. Very malty and rich, with complimenting bitterness. Lots going on and the oak-age brings this one to the top. One of my favorite bigs!

 189 characters

Photo of mikeinportc
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a '14 from a crowler, so ..... might skew things a bit.

Pours clear chestnut-brown, similar to thin, watery coffee, when I forget how many scoops I put in, & come up light. ; ) Quickly-dissipating off-white head.

Aroma is slightly nutty malt, lightly boozy, & dried fruit, a la brandy.

Flavor is wood,pecan, & dried stone fruits, and (fermented honey - like a mead) finishing with slight pleasant astringency & bitterness.

Light, moderately oily, with very fine carbonation. Overall quite smooth.

Overall, this aged version is an (dangerously ; ) )easy-drinking, wonderful sipper, that I can't get enough of.

 635 characters

Curmudgeon from Founders Brewing Company
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 4847 ratings