Founders Brewing Company

Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Lager - Malt Liquor
3.92 | pDev: 13.01%
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Notes: Here you have what could be the first malt liquor worthy of a glass. Typically a slighted style, we thought we would class it up with a stay in the wood and a healthy dose of dry-hopping. A huge hit of corn gives this one a smooth sweetness while its time spent aging in bourbon barrels will give you reason to share. Be warned: this one’s a pry-off, not a twist-off.
Reviews: 219 | Ratings: 644 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Sigmund
Sigmund from Norway

3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

355 ml bottle, 2017 release, Cardinal Pub & Bar, Stavanger. ABV is 14.2%. Deep golden to amber colour, moderate to small white head. Distinct aroma of bourbon, oak and vanilla. Medium sweet flavour, again with distinct notes of bourbon, oak and vanilla, moderate hops. Warming mouthfeel.

Apr 16, 2021
Photo of GregBarleycorn13
GregBarleycorn13 from New York

4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

When I had this beer fresh it was too hot with the alcohol - 14%. Really didn't like it. Had one today after being in the cellar for 3 years and it mellowed out to be quite good. Good clean taste of the malt liquor and the bourbon was nicely balanced.
The bourbon smell was good each time I took a sip.

Jan 06, 2021
Photo of EMV
EMV from Pennsylvania

3.94/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Dogfish Head tulip

L: Slightly cloudy light golden amber pour with 2 fingers of foamy white head. Great ring of lacing.

S: Sweet malts/grains and booze/bourbon. A bit of vanilla but mostly sweet.

T.F: Sweet and boozy. Malt and caramel... vanilla and bourbon. A bit of oak... not much in the way of hop character. Corn/adjunct and alcohol. Rich... not overly cloying. Medium bodied and sticky on the tongue. Caramel and vanilla at the finish.

O: An interesting brew/take on the idea of 'Malt Liquor'. Strong bourbon barrel character... malty and sweet but still pretty nice. Makes for a solid winter dessert beer. Founders rarely disappoints, even when they step out on a limb like this one.

Feb 24, 2020
Photo of SHODriver
SHODriver from North Carolina

3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Poured into a snifter to a light golden orange topped by a dense and slightly rocky white head which fades slowly to a collar around the edge of the glass with minimal lacing
S: Smells of sweet corn, caramel and oak. Hints of fruity alcohol on the nose as well.
T: Taste is bourbon barrel with some caramel and vanilla, corn, sugary sweetness, alcohol, and aged hops. On the swallow there's a lot of bitterness with some wet woody oak, vanilla, corn, and more aged bitter hops.
M: The beer has a fairly full body with a slightly creamy feel on the palate. Carbonation is light but adequate for the ABV while the beer has a fairly neutral finish that is slightly drying.
O: Overall this is an interesting beer. It's pretty raw on the bourbon barrel while the base beer struggles to provide flavor. It doesn't drink terribly but it's kind of an odd concept. Decent complexity and flavor though. I guess it's worth a try if you really want to try something that colors outside of the lines.

Oct 05, 2019
Photo of JayQue
JayQue from Virginia

4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best Malt Liquor I ever had!!!! I have had this one in my refrigerator forever, as high octane beers tend to sit longer with me. Pours a fairly clear dark gold color with a surprisingly big frothy white head. Aroma and taste area from the bourbon barrel, malt and corn. Fairly strong aroma and good rich flavor, with the oak and bourbon from barrel aging most prominent. Mouthfeel is rich, some alcohol presence but more a warming presence than a burn. a slow sipper to be sure, but goes down fairly easily. I would drink this one again

Jul 11, 2019
Photo of dacrza1
dacrza1 from New Jersey

3.89/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

DATE: June 22, 2019... OCCASION: celebrating Michael's first Little League playoff win, a 7-6 thriller...GLASSWARE: Chivas Regal tumbler...pours a nearly opaque, orange amber body that sits confidently beneath a soft swirl of off-white head... the malt bill is thick, sweet, lightly flowery, and a corny finish worthy of bourbon... first sip is smooth, buttery, warm, and calming--a clean finish that retains a reasonable relation to its hard alcohol cousins... the corn is pleasant enough, with an appreciable sweetness, woody and vibrant... lemon, sugar, caramel, toffee, a ringing ethanol vapor, tea leaves, and a citric kick... I love its rounded bourbon, full of caramel and sweet sugars... this is a nice alternative to whiskey, as its buzz creeps slowly and evenly... Founders does this right, albeit pushing a crazy amount of alcohol in its profile.... another bourbon barrel winner...

Jun 23, 2019
Photo of mishi_d
mishi_d from Romania

4.13/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Clear golden color with white head, aroma of liqueur, bourbon, roasted malts and some tropical fruits, taste is medium bitter / medium sweet, medium body and carbonation.

Mar 13, 2019
Photo of Ciocanelu
Ciocanelu from Romania

4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Clear golden color with off-white head. Aroma has some bourbon and toasted malts, a bit stinky though. Taste is bittersweet, malty and resiny, quite intense on the bourbon notes. Medium body and carbonation. A bit too boozy but overall it's quite good.

Mar 09, 2019
Photo of Everydayoff
Everydayoff from Thailand

3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

355ml bottle poured into a snifter.

Hazy amber in color with thick foamy white head with good retention, it slowly dissipates to some lasting bubble sheet atop along with good amount of lacing.

Obviously dry hopped in the aroma and flavor with its fruity touch like a pineapple, lime and citrus as well as big bitterness while malt and adjunct play an important supporting role with its corn alike and sweet biscuity grain. Also, there is a barrel note with the characters of bourbon whiskey and toasted woodiness that also lends some bitter bite.

Medium body with proper carbonation and right mouthfeel, finish is very dry. Interesting Malt Liquor, not that easy to drink.

Mar 04, 2019
Photo of TooManyGlasses
TooManyGlasses from Canada (AB)

3.94/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2017 Barrel Aged Series - single picked up at Founders in Grand Rapids last March. Review a little biased as I love Founders in general.
This pours a clear pale orange colour with 1/2 finger short lived white head.
The aroma starts with a fusel alcohol hammer - but as this blows off (and honestly it never really does) there is a sweetness of caramel and bourbon.
Taste is boozy - with that background of fusel alcohol but also sweet - significant sense of corn but with a woody bitterness that lingers, with hints of vanilla trying to push through the booze.
Mouthfeel is full with persistent alcohol burn but remains smooth and even a bit creamy. Clearly not a beer you go to very often but I actually enjoyed the ride - and then the nap.

Jan 27, 2019
Photo of TheBrewsky
TheBrewsky from California

3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled in 2017. Picked it up a while back at a discount. Not sure what to expect, but excited to try.
L: Pours a light caramel/butterscotch color. Has an evident syrupy viscosity that is noticeable as I pour. About a half a finger of a tightly packed white cap that retains rather nicely. Clumpy soapy foam clings to the glass as I sip this beast. It looks rather appealing.
S: Oak character is the first thing I noticed, followed by some heavy notes of caramel, dates, malts, and bourbon. As it warms, the bourbon character is more pronounced, making bourbon, malts and oak the domineering aromas.
T: Tastes like bourbon with a strong malt backbone. Oak barrel present on the finish with lingering charred oak aftertaste. The malts provide a sweetness that pairs well with the woody bourbon presence. I am rather enjoying it, and surprisingly so.
F: Incredible feel. Reminds me a lot of Backwoods bastard. Smooth, rich, full and borderline creamy. Carbonation has retained nicely, still providing a fizz element.
O: I wasn't sure what to expect from this, but came out enjoying it. It is a perfect slow-sipper for this rainy day. I am very glad to have tried, especially since I've held onto it for so long. Cheers!

Jan 06, 2019
Photo of woodychandler
woodychandler from Pennsylvania

3.96/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

I am both hesitant & anxious to open this bottle! I well remember DFH's foray into this realm & it did not end well, mostly due to leaking caps. I am always up to a challenge & since AMLs were the early backbone of The CANQuest, who better to judge, ahem, rate/review this gem, er, beer?

From the Bottle: "Kicks You Where You Most Expect It"; "Imperial Malt Liquor Aged in Bourbon Barrels"; "Here you have what could be the first malt liquor worthy of a glass. Typically a slighted style, we thought we would class it up with a stay in the wood and a healthy dose of dry-hopping. A huge hit of corn gives this one a smooth sweetness while its time spent aging in bourbon barrels will give you reason to share. Be warned: this one’s a pry-off, not a twist-off."

As to that last, thank goodness for the smallest of favors … I began with a Pop! of the pry-off (I woulda said "prise-off") cap.

Is that ENG? AUS? My mother, in her dotage, has become a world traveler, often remarking that she has heard many overseas words & phrases coming out of my mouth over the years. I am a born linguist, having begun reading at the tender age of 2 y/o, or so she & Pops told me. My time in the Navy exposed me to all sorts of languages & not only did I become fluent in French at one point, but I made it a point to get the local talent to teach me some words & phrases as we chowed down on their local cuisine. Sure, I was making like a sailor, but they all loved me, often showing up on the pier as we pulled out. I came away as a cunning linguist and oftentimes, I will lapse into a foreign language, usually under stress. One afternoon, in Junior Seminar for EngLit majors, I could not find the words & lapsed into exasperated ITL as my classmates sat agape.! Oh well.

Back to the beer. A slow, gentle C-Line pour & I was off & running (or was it often running?). It generously puffed up to for, two-plus fingers of dense, foamy, rocky, eggshell-white head with moderate retention that slowly fell back, leaving nice lacing in its wake. Color was Amber to Deep-Amber/Light-Copper (SRM = > 9, < 13) with NE-quality clarity. Nose smelled evil! Okay, I have copped to my dislike of corn as an adjunct and Bourbon before, but this was the worst of both worlds for me. I do not remember who said or wrote it, but someone said that Bourbon always made them think of stinking, rotting death. 8=O I do not feel THAT strongly, but fermenting corn does put me in mind of silage & that is NOT a pleasant thought. Here, upon leaning in for a sniff, I got old, fermenting, rotting corn in an all-new and special way. That said, such is NOT a knock on the beer, given its style! AMLs rely heavily on corn & hearty, sometimes overworked yeast to produce a high ABV relatively inexpensively. I allowed my first sip to simply sit on my tongue as I rocked back & forth, contemplating & anticipating the swallow. OMFG, this s**t was vicious, viscous & rather delicious! If you like Bourbon, this was definitely going to trip your trigger. If you like sitting in the alleyway in the midst of Summer as the pop-po rolls past, nodding their approval since we weren't on the front porch, this is your paper bag. If you don't mind shelling out high-end $ for an upscale AML, this is the drink for you. I got corn, Bourbon whisky, fusel alcohol, some kinda mind**k & a whole lotta sit your a** down, boy! Who knew that as a Northerner, you didn't take an African-American beauty out in town on a date?!? Phew. Smoooooth. Things were smoothing out real good. Namely, my brain. Doctors have shown that working on puzzles, of any stripe, as you grow older, will help with cognizance & memory? How do they know? The deeper the grooves in a brain, the better. A brain that resembles a walnut? Excellent! My brain? Smooth as a bowling ball! Mmm. Whoosh! It was like someone hit the "Pin Reset" button as my pinhead came active again. Where was I? Oh, yes, groovy. No, I mean that this was the right beer to get the job done, but was it at the right price point? We used to get lawn chair-wasted for 1/4 or 1/6 of the price, so I would say that if you are after an AML buzz/drunk & its inevitable hangover, look elsewhere. If you are AML-curious, then maybe. Finish was dry, but that was undoubtedly by design. A non-dry, high-ABV AML? In what universe? Lissen, if this does the trick, so be it. If you are left wanting, then move on, but don't blame me!

Dec 01, 2018
Photo of elNopalero
elNopalero from California

4.34/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This pours a warm golden tan color. Yes it's a malt liquor. But it boggles my mind how good it is. The nose reminds me of, well, bourbon. But bourbon you can drink from a bottle. Lots of corn, incredibly smooth, the finish is delicious and the whole thing is wonderful. Wow. Bam!

Oct 04, 2018
Photo of Snowcrash000
Snowcrash000 from Germany

3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a slightly hazy, deep gold/pale amber coloration with a small, fizzy head. Smells of caramel malt, bourbon and just a hint of vanilla. Taste follows the nose, with caramel. grainy malt at the forefront, some sweet corn and a strong barrel character of bourbon, oak and vanilla. A little boozy, but not too bad, really. Finishes bittersweet with a bit more booze coming through in the aftertaste. Medium body and carbonation.

This has the typical Founders barrel character to it that can even make a Malt Liquor seem not too bad, really. While it is a little sweet and boozy, the rich barrel notes really save this.

Aug 19, 2018
Photo of Slatetank
Slatetank from Pennsylvania

3.99/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I tried this on tap at Sturges speakeasy

The color is amber with light hazed look and white head with fine bead. The smell is sweet almost perfumey with mild fruity and light caramel from malt with subtle alcohol in the nose. the feel is boozy with sweet mixture of light cloying quality as it is moderately high in carbonation low in bitterness with semi-dry finish.

The taste is creamy and has a caramel like sweetness like caramel corn low malt flavor with light bitterness yet slight fruity yeast in the taste with a mild alcohol for 14%. This is a pretty unique beer, definitely sweeter than most but more bourbon barrel taste than expected too so you can split the difference. the only drawback for me is the strength and sweetness for multiple servings

Jul 24, 2018
Photo of bluejacket74
bluejacket74 from Ohio

3.99/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle, 2017 release. Served in a Founders Barrel Aged Tumbler glass, the beer pours a slightly hazy golden amber color with about a half inch off-white head. Head retention and lacing are both decent enough. Aroma is nice but a bit subtle, the brew smells like bourbon, corn, grain and vanilla. I think the taste is pretty much just like the aroma, but there's also some oak and booziness noticeable along with a somewhat bittersweet finish. Taste and aroma gets stronger as the beer warms. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's coating with a moderate amount of carbonation. Easy enough to drink, considering the 14.2% ABV. I thought this was a good overall brew. Probably would have preferred this in a 12 ounce bottle but I never did come across any of those. The label says "Kicks you where you most expect it" and that's certainly true after finishing this bottle! Worth a try if you've never had this before. $12.99 a bottle.

Jul 20, 2018
Photo of BlurryVisi0n
BlurryVisi0n from New York

3.86/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Served in a tulip from the bottle.

Appearance: Thin clear light amber-ish gold with medium bubbles to the body with a white head rising almost two fingers length off the body. Slightly sticky lacing on the glass.

Smell: Light alcohol scent which is nice after it warms up and the potency does level up a bit but there's nothing else.

Taste: Malt and hops with an overwhelming alcohol characteristic which makes your palates think about what are you really drinking.

Mouth: Medium carbonation with a super sticky scotch after tone. Might be the closest spirit tasting beer I've had in my life and I have had a lot.

Overall: Good brew but drinking two back to back would be overkill for some. Happy drinking and Salud!

Jun 22, 2018
Photo of AlenLager
AlenLager from North Carolina

4.19/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Wow, so many reviews here that are slamming this brew. This beer is the top malt liquor I have ever tasted. That being said it is one of my favorites in any category. I bought a bunch of it for my stash. On the beer itself; the smell is of corn and bourbon. The taste from the corn is very evident and the bourbon barrel comes through perfectly. It is boozy, but in a good way. Nice job.

Jun 20, 2018
Photo of Jim_Benz
Jim_Benz from Minnesota

3.66/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Someone gave me a 4-pack and, I have to admit, I'd been curious about this one.

A: a little darker than I'd expect but still on the golden side of amber. Smallish head that fades quickly leaving lace.
O: I can smell the bourbon barrel and (maybe) a bit of crackery malt. But mostly the bourbon.
T: about the same as the nose. No real complexity at all, but I've come to expect that from barrel-aged beers. Until they've aged for at least a year. Booze is almost prominent but not quite.
F: I'd expect a lighter body in a malt liquor but this leans toward medium bodied. Which is a plus. On the other hand, I haven't had a malt liquor in maybe 25 years, so what do I know?
O: it's okay. If I liked barrel-aged beers, I'd probably say it's pretty good but not great. Nice try, anyway. But I'm looking forward to the buzz I'll get when I've finished this glass. The other three bottles will sit in my cellar, waiting. But I don't have high hopes.

Jun 19, 2018
Photo of beersampler6
beersampler6 from Michigan

3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Very tasty elevated malt liquor by virtue of its bourbon barrel maturing. Nice golden color, thin head without much lacing. Smells very good, mainly sweet corn, malt and vanilla. Tastes of malt, grain, vanilla, caramel and then those great bourbon notes. Alcohol quite well hidden throughout. Smooth finish, thin mouthfeel, no bitter aftertaste. Was lucky to find this one at the Founders brewery store, as it’s no longer being brewed.

Jun 04, 2018
Photo of BFCarr
BFCarr from New Jersey

3.71/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Maybe the best malt liquor, but that's a high hurdle to overcome. It's drinkable and doesn't feel like a brain numbing 14.2%. Look is good, taste is okay and feel is good.

Jun 02, 2018
Photo of FLima
FLima from Brazil

3.66/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Amber copper color with a thin head with short retention.
Aroma with notes of caramel, oak, some pine, booze in a pleasant way, vanilla and orange marmalade.
Flavor with notes of pine, caramels, oak, booze, red apples, vanilla, grains and sure lots of bourbon. Dry and bitter aftertaste.
Full body with appropriate carbonation. Alcohol of 14.2% was very well managed. It feels much lower.
I guess this is the King of malt liquors. They sure gave another class to the style. Bourbon notes matched perfectly the corn bill from the style. I could even drink this on the rocks. I actually did in the very end and it was fun. Worth trying.

May 19, 2018
Photo of Beaver13
Beaver13 from Colorado

2.44/5  rDev -37.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle, 2017 release, bottled on 7/3/17. Pours slightly hazy golden orange with a medium creamy white head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is sweet corny malt leading a a big vanilla bourbon booze.

The flavor is sweet creamy corny malt with a big harsh vanilla bourbon booze with some harsh alcohol bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with smooth carbonation.

Overall, it's a big huge boozy mess.

Apr 23, 2018
Photo of Tsar_Riga
Tsar_Riga from Indiana

3.81/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Hazy dark orange body, largely opaque, with a minimal white head, a thin cast across the top, and tiny bubble lacing.

S - All about the barrel, wood and booze, a hint of molasses, vanilla and sugar.

T - Follows the nose, full of bourbon booze and wood, vanilla and mild sweet malts in the middle, and a more sharp alcohol and slight bitter note in the close.

M - Brisk carbonation and sharp tingle on the tongue, then a alcohol warmth toward burn in the finish.

O - Not my cup of tea, but well executed. Rich and warm, but without much beer, it becomes a bourbon flavored malt product.

Apr 22, 2018
Photo of cardfan212
cardfan212 from Minnesota

3.19/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a glass. My scoring is not based on other malt liquors because, frankly, this is much more expensive and a completely different beast than a typical malt liquor.

Look - Beautiful clear golden color. Short thick white head that dissipated quickly, leaving behind some fine lacing. No visible carbonation.

Smell - Sweet corn, light grain, hints of vanilla and typical oaky scents. No noticeable hop aroma, even though it claims to have a "healthy dose of dry-hopping."

Taste - Strong corn sweetness with a nice mild grain backbone and a tail of vanilla, spices, and a healthy alcohol peppering. Again, no hop flavor. Tastes almost exactly like a watered down bourbon with a splash of club soda.

Feel - Thick body with just the right level of carbonation. The burn in your throat and nose reminds you that this beer is no slouch.

Overall - A bold and interesting experiment, but still has room for improvement. I'd really like to see other brewers tackle the malt liquor style and see what they can do with it.

Apr 18, 2018
DKML from Founders Brewing Company
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 644 ratings