Founders Brewing Company

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Red Ale - Imperial
Ranked #9
Ranked #4,474
4.08 | pDev: 8.33%
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
Notes: What do you get when a big, bold imperial red IPA meets an oak bourbon barrel? A palate stunner that’ll send your senses spinning or, as we like to call it, Dankwood. Rich caramel notes emerge from the depths of the IPA, highlighting strong malt character while the bourbon barrel-aging develops the complexity. A dank, sticky and slightly sweet sipper, Dankwood is the perfect alchemy of wood and hops.
Reviews: 194 | Ratings: 628 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Msp004
Msp004 from New York

4.06/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle date 4/11/18. Pours dark brown with a thin brown head. Little lacing.
Nose is a caramel apple out front. hop bitter and tanginess.

Mouth is a caramel apple upfront, bitter hops, sweet and tangy with an nice warm alcohol finish.

Aged well for 2 years. More along the lines of a barley wine at this point.

May 02, 2020
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stevoj from Idaho

4.09/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from Boise Co-op. I think I'd go more for an Amrrican stronge ale here, but its shaping up pretty damn nicely. Dark brown pour, one finger beige head, lasts a while. Aroma is dark, woody and fruity. Taste brings some molasses, marshmallow, , raisins, and plenty of alcohol heat. Well rounded,…

Nov 10, 2019
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KooVee from Finland

2.44/5  rDev -40.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

33cl bottle, 1y old.

Ambery copper. Stocky, sticky lace.

Aroma is evident already in drive-by. Pineapple and cherry soaked in alcohol. Bourbon cuts through with the subtlety of a runaway bus.

Taste is like the eigenvectors of PCA. Candy floating in coarse booze, fruit at the top of the palate. Borh are mercilessly sunk by the resin entering at the end of the scene in a way that sucks all oxygen out of the room.

This is what happens when a recipe fails at all levels. Some might find this interesting and original, but it is like often happens when you experiment with an unusual combination -- harmony is not uniformly distributed. I possess similar regrets.

Nov 01, 2019
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DokiDokiLitFam from New Jersey

4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours out bronze with a finger and a half of head. Light lacing.

Smell is mild caramel, hop aroma leaning towards mostly pineapple, wood, and some bourbon. This is a very strange mixture, but not at all off putting. This actually works really well together.

Taste is pretty much the same as the nose but a little more powerful on all fronts. The hoppiness and the bright pineapple work well the smooth sweetness of the caramel malt flavor. And the wood just persists throughout providing this whole other element of flavor. Nice stuff.

The carbonation is pretty standard. Medium in carbonation and body. Not thin, not thick.

This beer is an interesting one. I'm glad this turned out to be enjoyable. The 12% ABV will keep you in check though certainly. Been on a hell of a Founders kick recently and this is another one that turned out well. Not mind blowing but enjoyable and unique enough to be purchased more in the future.

Sep 11, 2019
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stoutman from Michigan

4.04/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy dark brown with moderate light brown head. Notes of cherry, prune, caramel malt, fresh grass, wood, and light barnyard aroma. Moderately sweet candy sugar, caramel malt, and a moderately bitter funky grass/fresh wood flavor. Nice mate of known IPA and the Oak barrel imparting the unique flavor.

Jun 08, 2019
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Beer_Right_Back from Arizona

3.5/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A large imperial that doesn't hold its punches. Full of malt, amber flavor with notes of vanilla and cherry in the background, this complimented our cigars perfectly. Honestly, we though that without them, we might rate it less.

May 23, 2019
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jjamadorphd from Florida

4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great beer even after a year of aging...

I will admit this wasn’t spectacular, but it sure was really good. The coloration was appealing with a slight boozy smell to go along with a tamped down boozy flavor. This is the kind of beer to simply sit back and enjoy slowly, which I did.

Apr 29, 2019
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BigGold from Mississippi

4.19/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had poured from 12-oz. bottle, label stamped “Bottled on: 04.11.18,” into tulip.

This Imperial Red IPA is so smooth you can drink it fast and easy. But you shouldn’t, as it’s a 12.2 beer, and you won’t, as the balanced vanilla and whiskey from the barrel, caramel malt and hops also reward slow sippin’.

Apr 22, 2019
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WickedBeer from Alabama

3.97/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draft, kegged 4/24/18.

Pours dark and murky, crimson hues-rust color. Soft, creamy head that leaves tons of lace retention as it settles.

Huge sweet, malty nose. On the back there’s some resiny pine and caramel, but booze and malt characterize the aromas.

Great balanced complexity here. Huge hop presence, leaving a linger that contrasts nicely to a powerful malt bill with caramel accents throughout. On the back end that 12% hits you with a warm, boozy linger.

Smooth, boozy mouthfeel. Full-bodied, with nice amounts of residual mouth-coating. Warm in the finish and all the way down.

Apr 10, 2019
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VashonGuy from Washington

4.09/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The look is copper-mahogany, very appropriate for a red ale. The aroma is caramel. The taste is caramel, plenty of hops, some wood and some bourbon. I know some people say they don't get much bourbon. Well, it's not a bourbon bomb, but that's a good thing. The bourbon flavor is definitely there. It's a bit sweet, but not overly so. It's fairly bitter, as it should be. Overall, it's quite good. This is an assertive beer, not for those who like their beers shy and demure.

Mar 21, 2019
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kitch from Hong Kong

3.38/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

A 12 fl. oz. bottle, bottled on 10th April 2018. Poured into a Lost Abbey teku glass.

Appearance: An amber orange brown colour with a two finger beige head that had good retention and left lots of nice sticky lacing.

Aroma: Sweet malts, caramel, orange peel, lemon juice, bourbon, oak.

Taste: Moderate sweetness, caramel, toffee, butterscotch, bourbon, oak, lime, citrus peel, with a lightly bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: A little boozy, full bodied with soft carbonation.

Overall: Definitely a sipper, but I think not really my style as sweet and boozy doesn’t work too well on my palate.

Feb 22, 2019
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buschbeer from Ohio

4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

1 PINT 9.4 FL. OZ. bottle
Served in a snifter

This beer pours a ruddy brown with rust colored highlights. It is topped with a couple inches of tan head that leaves some nice lacing.

The smell is caramel with some light oak.

The taste is earthy. I get some caramel and spice with hints of sweetness. There is a dry, oakiness and a slight bitterness in the finish.

Medium bodied with a smooth mouthfeel

It is a unique beer. There are not a lot of barrel aged IPAs out there. This one is an enjoyable tasting experience. It's definitely a nice change of pace for the ole palate.

Feb 22, 2019
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stortore from Illinois

4.02/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into a snifter. Bottled 4/11/18, had 5/29/18.

Pours a hazy, dark amber, with a two inch head of creamy foam that has very good retention and a good amount of foamy lacing. Aromas of dank hops, light citrus and pine, malt, caramel, oak, some figs and dates. The flavors profile mostly the same- malt, dank hops, caramel, some dates, oak, light bourbon and vanilla, light pine. A good amount of hop bitterness, especially on the finish. Smooth, a very good medium body, well carbonated.

It is dank, it is bitter, and you do get wood. What you don’t get, is bourbon. Way too subtle in the flavor, a no show in the aroma. That said, very good flavors and aromas, and it’s very enjoyable. But, you know, the BA designation ups the price. Worth a purchase.

Feb 16, 2019
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Arjen from Netherlands

3.77/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle @ home, bottled April 10, 2018, enjoyed February 14, 2019. Pours a clear deep amber to brown colour. Small off white head with a thin layer retention. Aroma's are typically red IPA: firm hops with some caramel and some wood and just light bourbon booziness. Retronasal there's caramel malts, a bit aged hops, wood, light booze. Taste is moderate bitter with moderate malty sweetness. Alcohol is warming but not too sharp. Medium bodied. Finish is firmly bitter and dry, with some wood. Not the best of their barrel series, but certainly enjoyable.

Feb 14, 2019
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Jwale73 from Rhode Island

3.81/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz. bottle served in a Spiegelau tulip. Pours a lovely, translucent mahogany with a half-inch, off-white head embedded with tiny pinpricks. Nose expresses hints of caramel and earthy/herbal hops. No aromas of the barrel in the nose. Taste consistent with nose; however, there is a hint of the bourbon barrel in the flavor profile that nicely plays off the caramel. Mouthfeel is light in body with an assertive carbonation. Overall, decent - however, nuances are lost by the hop forward character.

Feb 09, 2019
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jmdrpi from Pennsylvania

4.31/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle, dated 4/18/18

Dark reddish-brown color, thick off-white colored head. Good head retention. Big bold aroma of rich caramel, dank earthy hops, and oak. Similar flavors in the taste, good balance of sweetness and bitterness. Sticky mouthfeel, medium bodied .

Feb 06, 2019
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BeerStine from California

3.64/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Bottled on 4-4-18
Consumed on 12-14-18

- Pours a hazy red with a off white brownish fluffy head.
- Smells of malt. Sugary nutty malts.
- Strong malts with heavy balance of hops. Bitter back tongue feel
- Lighter feel. Low carbonation.
- solid overall beer. Real strong beer.

Dec 15, 2018
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woodychandler from Pennsylvania

4.34/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

It's into the Woods for me on this New Barrel-Aged Beer Sunday (Week 720)! I had a false start last week as my intendeds were not new (to me), but simply new vintages. 8=( This week, I am getting it right, I am getting right & I am definitely getting it on!

From the Bottle: "What do you get when a big, bold imperial red IPA meets an oak bourbon barrel? A palate stunner that’ll send your senses spinning or, as we like to call it, Dankwood. Rich caramel notes emerge from the depths of the IPA, highlighting strong malt character while the bourbon barrel-aging develops the complexity. A dank, sticky and slightly sweet sipper, Dankwood is the perfect alchemy of wood and hops."

Man, I wanted my palate stunned in the worst way! I had to Pop! the cap first, though & follow this seismic action with a slow, gentle C-Line pour since that last one is still working its magic on me. Like, wow, man! It presented mw with just over a finger of dense, foamy, rocky, light-tan head with decent retention, but loads of lacing in its wake. Color was Deep Amber/Light Copper to Copper (SRM = > 13, < 17) with NE-quality clarity, reminiscent of Linda Lou's hair. She was a well-built redhead who I almost married back in 1993 but she left me for some Jody M/F while I was on deployment! If the previous beer started out sweet, thanks to Mosaic hops & aging in rum barrels, this came out of a wooden gate. There was no question that it had been wood barrel aged! 8=O Yum. I do not know that I would have said "bourbon" from the nose, but it had a pleasant booziness, not at all sharp like the previous one. Mouthfeel was medium-to-full, much more in keeping with what I was expecting. I did not have it super cold, but it was still chilled as I took my first sip. Immediately, I identified bourbon. Once again & I hate to keep picking on their Barrel Runner, but some things work while others do not. 8=( And not just bourbon, either, as the woodiness from the barrel aging was also evident. I will grant them "caramel" as well as "dank [&] sticky", but I did not find it to be even "slightly sweet". Instead, it had a dank, woody dryness with a bourbon cast that reminded me to keep on sippin'. I was off of distilled liquor for a long time, both due to too many mishaps (ahem!) & the increasing prevalence of craft beer in the late-1980s. Since then, between a resurgence of local distilling & the return of Rye Whisky, I have returned to the occasional dram or two. I still do not have a taste for bourbon, but this flavor worked well with this beer. I was transfixed (or was it poleaxed?) by the pleasantness imparted in this one. Sweet was NOT the order of the day as wood, caramel (only slightly sweet) & bourbon liquor ruled this rued, rude, rouge (red) day. I jest, of course. As with most things in life, I wouldn't do it if it wasn't fun. This presented me with a very pleasant, not overly boozy, second course to the day. It baffles me as to how they could get one so right and another so wrong. As I approached the finish, I began to get coconut, which is a standard for me & bourbon barrel-aged beers. It was like the welcome return of an old friend, home for the holidays! Perhaps I should lay in another bottle, just in case someone should drop by/in. Finish was semi-dry to dry & I remain perplexed & poleaxed by their mention of "slightly sweet". Rubbish! That sort of thinking could lead us all astray! YMMV, but if it does, I am disinterested. Carry on smartly, lads!

Dec 09, 2018
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BrendanJ from Minnesota

3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

L: Pours a dark amber-brown, moderately opaque. Good foamy, head about 2 fingers thick.
S: Smokey, Oaky aroma in the foreground. Has subtle hints of vanilla, grapefruit, and orange peel.
T: Very oaky and alcohol in the front, which matures into a bitter citrus aftertaste. Oof, a sipper to be sure.
F: The carbonation holds up well for the ABV, and adds a little bit of a crispness to it. Kinda stings on the way down though, as the alcohol is really showing itself on this one.
O: Pretty good. Going through this one slowly though.

Nov 24, 2018
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beerthulhu from New Jersey

3.99/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Murky ice tea pour sits an even murkier brown presence in the vessel. A creamy bronze-dark tan head is barely 1/4 inch atop, lapsing relatively quickly. A slow creeping fine mist of effervesce fills the vessel with a dreary nature within. Creamy smooth milk coating covers the vessel for remaining lace.

S: Heavy wiffs of bourbon and sweet caramel can be first had on the nose. Sweet cola and vanilla mingle with good results with some mossy/peat contributions of average strength. Holds rather well.

T: Dank and creamy bourbon marshmallow with sweet crystal/caramel malts are first on the tongue. Spicy brown sugar and alcohol with sweet vanilla-toffee and molasses. Peppery citrus and pine hops adds earthy and an ever green feel, along with some anise and a buttery smoked oak barrel presence. Cinnamon spice, fennel and some alcohol glow along with some dank, juicy hop resins finish out.

M: Medium body is creamy with depth, fluffy soft with a light mixture of carbonation. Doughy and malty.

O: Overall a nice lasting bourbon breath comes on the finish to remind you of the aging factor and relative generous bourbon influence this beer has. Sweet with spicy nature of cinnamon and caramel with a toasted dry barrel wood dryness gives this a great and smooth taste throughout. Bot. 4.18.18. Consumed 11.21.18. Loved the creamy marshmallow like base and bourbon influence, makes for a slow, and gentle sipper of boozy nature by the fire side on a first winter snowfall.

Nov 22, 2018
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CHickman from New York

4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottled on 04/23/18, it pours red purple looking color with a 1-2 finger thick sand colored head that was packed with bubbles of all sizes, dissipating very slowly and really good foam lacing coating the sides. Impressive for barrel aged red ale.

Smells of oak, caramel, toffee, dark rum, piney notes, rose pedals, tea leaf, bourbon, syrup soaked French toast, orange peel, herbs, earthy tones and then faint peat moss. Very interesting and all over the place in a good way, as the hops, floral notes and bourbon barrel elements work well together.

Tastes of toffee, vanilla, woody/oaky notes, bourbon or dark rum, peat moss, brown sugar, rich boozy malts, orange peel, wet floral hops, mineral water, red grapefruit, pine cones, grass, teal leaf and light peppery spices. It's an odd mix of malty sweetness, strong booze and dank hops that is never cloyingly sweet but seems to caramelize and get a little sweeter as it warms up. Light coconut and roasty flavors come out as the sweetness fades, with a slight bitterness and a dry feel as the brew goes away. You can taste the bourbon, but it's not hot and actually on the smoother side.

Mouthfeel is creamy smooth and almost slick feeling as it goes down, with lots of malt and bourbon barrel aspects throughout. The hop and oak serve up lots of complexities and even some nutty hints as it fades. Not sure I could have more than one in a sitting and wish I would have split this bottle, but it was a nice offering overall.

Nov 18, 2018
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Oktoberfest from Ohio

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

Like licking the inside of a bourbon barrel, but without the risk of splinters.

This is a big, unapologetic beer. I don't even know what that means. I think it's done something to my head. My cognitive processes have been damaged.

Sweet, malty, with strong notes of bourbon, wood, and cherry. Good. Real good. But I'm not sure if I'd want more than the 12 oz bottle I just inflicted on myself. It's like one of those boutique shaving creams that smell like leather and tobacco and combat knives and it's all cool at first in its metal tin with a picture of a skeleton or a gunfighter on the lid, but you only use it a couple of times before going back to something a little less in (on?) your face.

Nov 17, 2018
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emyers from Illinois

4.26/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Yardhouse in Long Beach.

Cloudy amber-brown with a one inch creamy off white head

Nose: Piney/floral hops up front, undertones of caramelized sugar and charred oak.

Taste: Caramel, floral hops up front. Bourbon is very subtle but present. Finish is fairly dry.

Feel: Fantastic. Velvety smooth but with a crisp dry finish.

Nov 17, 2018
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flipper2gv from Canada (QC)

4.07/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a murky brown/amber color with a creme colored head. Head is creamy looking. Retention is just ok but lacing is very good.

S: Caramel, maple syrup and light roasted malts are upfront. There are bourbon notes too with vanilla, oak tannins and some light pepper. Some light floral, slightly citrusy hop notes are in there too. Pretty sweet upfront, with a nice hop twang.

T: Well this is quite interesting. There is a lot of caramel and maple syrup up front with some citrus and floral notes. The bourbon notes are prominent too with strong vanilla and oak tannins while the pepper stays more in the background. Some notes of pears and light artificial banana flavors. Maybe some light cloves and cardamom too. Quite boozy though.

M: This is medium to heavy body, very sticky with a medium to low carbonation. This beer would have benefited from a smoother mouthfeel.

O: Considering the flavors, it's extremely surprising how coherent this beer is. If I read only the flavor notes, I would have expected a mess of a beer like I've seen many of. But, this is really coherent and pleasant. This reminds me a lot at times of drunken pear desserts.

Nov 01, 2018
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ChrisMon02 from Ohio

2.44/5  rDev -40.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

I am a huge fan of Founders. I like/love most of their offerings. I just could not get into this one. Too boozy and syrupy sweet. I tried but in the end, my drain swallowed more than I did. Oh well, to each his own.

Oct 30, 2018
Dankwood from Founders Brewing Company
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 628 ratings