Bottle Shop Series #2: Highball Drifter
Founders Brewing Company

Bottle Shop Series #2: Highball DrifterBottle Shop Series #2: Highball Drifter
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Strong Ale - American
Ranked #63
Ranked #8,005
4.06 | pDev: 6.16%
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
Very Good
Bottle Shop Series #2: Highball DrifterBottle Shop Series #2: Highball Drifter
Notes: There’s a new sheriff in town – meet Highball Drifter, a barrel-aged sipper inspired by our favorite bourbon-based cocktails. The second entry in our Bottle Shop Series, Highball Drifter presents aromatics of caramel and vanilla, dried fruit and spice while hints of cherry and bitter orange peel whisk you away like a tumbling tumbleweed. Call us old-fashioned, but we think you’re going to love it.

IBUs: 25
Reviews: 33 | Ratings: 86 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of jlindros
jlindros from Massachusetts

3.96/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 2021/07/07
Pours an off-white frothy creamy 1 finger head fair lacing, dark but fairly clear mahogany ruby reddish brownish color

Nose is really interesting, lots of orange zest and orange juice up front, big sweet caramel toffee, a little buttery barrel adding some butterscotch, brown sugar, a bit of whiskey and toasted grainy malt

taste brings more sweet malt, toasted brown malt, caramel, toffee, a bit more butterscotch and some vanilla, some candy notes as well, fairly sweet overall, more orange zest and a bit artificial flavored citrus, little bitterness, light barrel and buttery oak with a touch of whiskey, toasted brown malt, brown sugar, semi sweet finish with a bit of alcohol warmth

Mouth is med to fuller bod, fair but not too much alcohol warmth, tad syrupy, med frothy carb

Overall good, a bit too much artificial orange, decent barrel wish there was more, a bit too sweet as well, but a decent beer

Today at 03:13 AM
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DrDemento456 from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Much better than the other bottle shop release I got big orange peel cherry more like a cordial and smooth whiskey with both vanilla sweetness and touch of oak. Price was a bit more for some reason but I would definitely revisit this Manhattan cocktail based beer again. Founders makes great BBA beers!

Tuesday at 05:09 PM
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PathofChaos from Maryland

4.34/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Murky, burnished copper with a sleek slip of white, sandy froth. Limited retention but what remains at the edge of the glass unexpectedly showcases a long coattail of cascading lace.

Candied orange peels and maraschino cherries, sparingly drizzled with grenadine syrup. All floating atop a fine finger of brown sugar bourbon.

A slick, supple medium, dotted with dainty champagne bubbles. The heft and viscosity are remarkably similar to an Old-Fashioned cocktail, and even includes the same sultry, citrusy booze heat linger.

Bing cherries tumbling in a gentle elixir of sticky molasses, orange marmalade, and peaty bourbon. Its linger is a soft breeze made from wisps of brûléed brown sugar and sun-warmed oak.

An elegant balance of tart and bittersweet.

Oct 09, 2021
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LiquidAmber from Washington

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

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a medium reddish orange with a quarter finger white head that dissipates to patches with light lacing. Aroma of sweet, mildly caramel malt, orange, cherry and whiskey; does smell like a generic whiskey cocktail. Flavor is light caramel malt, vanilla, orange and whiskey. Lingering cherry and mixed citrus finish. Medium bodied with light creaminess. This does taste like somewhat like a highball made from whiskey and an orange and cherry liqueur, but mostly like a light malt strong ale barreled in whiskey. I've had an Old Fashioned in the dim past and this as close as I can remember it, but I'm no expert. An oddball barleywine-like strong ale with strong citrus and cherry notes. ABV well covered. Interesting and flavorful enough, but not one I'd return to.

Oct 08, 2021
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Iamaskier from Idaho

4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L: Reddish purple, opaque body, pretty sustained foamy head.
S: Bourbon! Molasses too, plum, fig, and raisins.
T: First the bourbon, with brown sugar, then the plum and cherry, then more brown sugar, with sunflower seeds? Interesting. There’s a buttery, nutty flavor on the finish. Even more interesting are the hints of raspberry I keep getting.
F: On the thick side, not sticky, and smooth.
O: Some interesting flavors for a bourbon style beer— it is very cocktail-like. And I like it, a lot. Unique and delicious.

Oct 02, 2021
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Troy-Hawaii from Hawaii

3.83/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bought a single 12oz bottle $3.99 Village Bottle Shop
84 days old
Smell of prune mui
Dark cloudy brownish-red color
Heavy mouthfeel, kind of syrupy
Low-medium carbonation
Taste sweet, prunes, light bourbon finish
Overall not what i had expected from a barrel aged beer. Never had an old fashion so am not comparing to it. Much sweeter, less complex than other Founders BAs. Good to try, but glad I only bought 1.

Sep 28, 2021
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dd53grif from Michigan

4.02/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep copper color with a minimal head that disappears quickly. Aroma of roasted malts and alcohol. Tastes sweet but with a strong alcohol finish. Interesting brew.

Sep 25, 2021
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Roguer from Connecticut

4.19/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very attractive brew, with a clear but dark brown body, and excellent head production and retention.

Nose is very impressive, with plenty of bourbon and oak alongside a strong malt body. Notes of caramel, leather, prune, chocolate, cherry, and lime.

Flavor follows: it's a very good take on an Old Fashioned, if not perfectly faithful, but yet still a beer. Drinks very smooth; it lets you know the high ABV, but never hits you over the head with its strength, allowing you to sip and savor at your own pace.

This is a really well executed cocktail-inspired beer: not quite as faithful and accurate as some others, but really damn drinkable and tasty in its own right, and importantly, still very much a beer.

Sep 21, 2021
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Sparty1224 from Michigan

4.57/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Brief Review:

O: Another Bottle Shop beer from Founder's here, this time inspired by an Old Fashioned? One of my favorite cocktails, couldn't wait to get into this. First off, aroma is 100% and Old Fashioned, it's not even funny. Taste isn't far off, either. This is a really nice beer. Smooth, drinkable, yet has that boozy heft of a cocktail. Cherry and orange are done just right, not too much or little. Not sure exactly what the base beer is, but feels like a barleywine maybe. This beer is reminiscent of some of the more experimental barleywines and wheatwines GI has done with the BCBS series. This honestly would fit right in there, it's that good.

Recommendation: Founder's barrel-aged game has been strong lately, and this is no exception. A must-try whether you like cocktails or not.

Sep 20, 2021
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Bouleboubier from New Jersey

3.89/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

(12 oz bottle, bottled on 07/06/21; purchased single off shelf... poured into a fat tulip)

L: ruby red liquid with a faint haze; egg nog colored foam, fine bubbles, but also some fatties... crescent cap, fish-eyed; thick lace ring at the top

S: cherry, baking spices, cake; density, but no intensity... as the foam settles, a sort of cordial or cherry NyQuil aroma emerges, maybe even a cherry cola or cherry cordial chocolate

T: bourbon note immediately, followed by a woosh of that cherry cola, finishing with a more 'balanced' display of the first two flavors, plus a cake-malty strong ale... sort of a long finish in which it dries (and thins) out a noticeable degree, revealing a lack of signifcant residual sweetness and a vague spiritous spicy char on the palate roof... second sip and on: caramel, (German chocolate?) cake, and that dried-out barrel finish

F: lush, attenuated malt syrup; soft carbonation and buried booze open up the palate, coating the back walls with thin layers of -ose primer... bloated beer/cordial, frizzy edges

O: decent swill, similar to some other cocktail/OF beers I've tried... the concept/branding is a lil wonky - 'highball'? - I get the play-on naming, but eh; the 'drifter' part may be unintentionally spot on, because where does this want to go?... bourbon and cola (highball) - was that the angle? (1827)

Sep 19, 2021
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Alieniloquium from Florida

3.33/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

12 oz. bottle. Pours reddish amber with an ample off-white head. Smells of vanilla, cherry, citrus, whiskey, and caramel sugars. Tastes much the same. Rye whiskey spiciness, strong vanilla, citrus, and cherry sweetness. They really got the Old Fashioned flavor spot on. I'm not sure how much I want to drink a whole glass of Old Fashioned. It does get pretty sweet after a while.

Sep 18, 2021
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aBosslyElephant from Florida

3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

L- Nice, Orangey brown. Opaque
S- Not very strong. Light roasted bread.
T- Amazing, nice light vanilla and spices. Roasted Caramel aftertaste. Nice bittery hops and orange peel.
M- Very hearty. Smooth but pretty vibrant.

Sep 16, 2021
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sjrider from California

4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pour - opaque dirty brown with minimal off white head leaving scant lacing and a ring of bubbles. Nose is sweet with dark fruits and bitter citrus. Taste follows with a hint of vanilla, cherry and caramel. Finish has woody barrel notes that lean toward dry. Definitely cocktail inspired.

Sep 07, 2021
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blazerkor from Nevada

4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

That's an interesting smell.  It's like an ice cream sundae: vanilla, carmel, chocolate and even the cherry on top.

This taste is crazy.  It's really sweet and only has a hint of beer.  It's fruity and decadent.  

It's thin and has medium carbonation.  The finish is long and tastes like fruity candy.

This is more of a beer cocktail than a theme beer.  It is really good though.  I give it a 5 out of 6.

Sep 05, 2021
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teromous from Virginia

3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From the rear label: "Bottled On: 07.07.21 0649 6"

Appearance: The body is a medium-dark brown color that is opaque except for the very near edges of the glass. It has a large head that is pock marked and adorned with scattered bubbles of various sizes. The beer barely had a hiss while uncapping so this is good to see. The head very slowly recedes but always maintains a well-formed cap, and provides sheets of slick lacing on the glass like pulling cheese from a freshly sliced piece of pizza. It looks great.

Aroma: A lemon-lime aroma comes through on the nose with a bit of cherry and oak. The aroma pops out of the glass and invades the nose. It smells a bit like a cherry limeade.

Taste: Up front there is a very strong caramel flavor with toasted notes and burnt sugar. There is also a very strong lemon-lime character. The middle of the mouth has a more mellow version of similar flavors found at the front of the palate, but there is a bit of this oak vanillin flavor that starts to develop. The sharpness of the flavors drop off very steeply at the rear of the palate where it picks up a bit of mellow oak wood and more vanillin character. It finishes with hints of vanillin and caramel in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: There is a mild acidity to the beer. The body is full to very-full and feels thick on the palate. The acidity does cut through some of the thickness keeping it from being too syrupy while allowing it to retain its weight on the tongue. Bitterness is mostly a citric bitterness but a mild toasted bitterness does creep in from time to time.

Overall: As a whole the beer is a bit heavy-handed on the citrus which overwhelms the palate when each sip is consumed. This heavy-handed approach also manages to greatly help with the aroma in giving it a bright and enjoyable presence. It is a balancing act that this beer doesn't quite perfect. The beer feels a lot like a person spinning plates on top of a stick, jumping back and forth to keep everything going. There are good moments and somewhat mediocre ones in this beer. It's worth picking up a single or trying a taster but I wouldn't recommend buying more than that on your first go. I enjoyed it somewhat because of the bright citrus character but I don't think I would buy it again because it didn't feel cohesive or in harmony with itself.

Sep 05, 2021
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andrewjraab from Michigan

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

Pours a murky chestnut brown with garnet back tinting. Some suds after each sip, but not much head retention throughout. Caramel, toffee, bourbon, oak on the nose and come through on the palate. Smooth feel, on the front end even though this is a hammer - boozy warmth on the back end. Really improves it comes to room temp. Worth a try, but this will be a one and done for me.

Sep 02, 2021
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ZebulonXZogg from Illinois

3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a lovely caramel color, small khaki head fades to a ring leaving just a hint of lacing and that oily film that looks so good. Aroma caramel or toffee, some fruit, plums?
Tastes similar, ash? Medium texture lightly carbonated. Overall its PFG, but it's just a bit too sweet.

Sep 02, 2021
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DefenCorps from Oregon

3.69/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Market of Choice

A clear dark reddish brown with a light brown head with good retention and lacing. The nose is less beer and more cocktail. Cointreau is immediately noticeable with it's blend of bitter orange peel, orange liqueur and some spice. Bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar are also present. These flavors are mirrored on the palate, where the Cointreau is most prominent. Fruity, brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla, caramel and toffee are present. A light cola flavor too. Boozy, warming finish. Solid stuff.

Aug 29, 2021
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Rug from Massachusetts

4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 7/6/21

First things first, I'm drinking this in honor of my wonderful yellow lab, Snickers, who had to be put down today. I've had him since I was a young kid, and he's brought endless joy and comfort to me over the last 13 years. Sitting down on the couch with him after a long day and having a beer was one of my favorite pastimes. This one goes out to you buddy

Pours a murky reddish brown with 2 fingers of light tan head that fades to a ring and leaves decent lacing

The bourbon comes through very nicely in the nose, though I suppose that's pretty much the point of this one. I'm picking up on aromas of medjool dates, sticky molasses, spiced bourbon, caramelized cherry, brown bread, sweet caramel, and a slight hint of grilled pineapple

A little more boozy and hot in taste than the aroma suggested, but it's very good for what it is. On the front end of the sip I'm tasting spicy bourbon, orange peel, toasted pecan, dark bread, and cherry. The swallow brings notes of orange peel, brown sugar, dark toast, caramel, and smooth vanilla

A medium full body pairs with gentle tingling carbonation, resulting in a slightly sharp beer. Finishes mostly dry with a lingering sweetness

Yet another wonderful Founders beer. I'll have to set my other one aside for this day next year. I will drink it again in honor of my best friend. I love you buddy, rest in peace

Aug 23, 2021
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hman43 from North Carolina

3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Look: It pours dark cooper with a tan head. Head retention is low.

Smell: Strong orange aromas up front with cherry. There are some citrus notes at a very low level. There are also some low bourbon elements.

Taste: There are strong orange flavors with cherry. There is a medium bready and caramel flavor as well. There are also notes of bourbon and vanilla, with citrus.

Feel: It has a medium full body with strong alcohol warming. The alcohol is not hot, but pleasant.

Overall, the aromas feature the orange with cherry whereas the flavors are more balance with plenty of malt shining through.

Aug 19, 2021
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lordofthewiens from New Mexico

4.24/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This beer is a clear garnet color with a small beige head
Aroma of caramel, vanilla, orange peel, and booze
Taste follows the nose. Caramel, vanilla, orange peel, bourbon.
Alcohol well-hidden

Aug 19, 2021
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MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle. Label has the marking of 'Bottled On: 07.07.21'.
Brown colored body, with a ruby shade when back lit. One finger of beige colored head. Leaves a scattered trail of lacing.
Aroma of cherry and orange peel, bitters spices, and caramel. The lightness is from the vanilla.
Taste is cocktail like, with flavors of cherry, orange, whiskey, spices from bitters, and caramel/brown sugar. Aftertaste is a diminishing trail of all the flavors.
Medium mouth feel, with syrup. Good carbonation.
The whiskey is there but higher ABV% is well hidden. Very cocktail inspired. Easy as a sipper.

Aug 17, 2021
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Treyliff from West Virginia

4.19/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into a tulip

A- pours a deep amber color with a ruby hue, one-finger foamy off-white head reduces to a ring around the edge

S- smells of aromatic bitters, maraschino cherries, orange, cola, sassafras root, brown sugar and a hint of whiskey

T- fruity notes of sweet cherry syrup and zesty orange peel up front are followed by oaky whiskey, as well as sweet notes of brown sugar and molasses. Mid-palate gives some aromatic bitter notes, as well as cola and sassafras. The finish gives orange peel, whiskey and cherry

M- medium body with moderate carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel that continues into a slightly creamy an warming finish

O- all of the elements of the old fashioned are there, Founders achieved what they set out for on this one, well done

Aug 15, 2021
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

When is the classic Old Fashioned cocktail drink hip again? When its newly fashioned into a bourbon barrel aged beer. Founders gives this drink an update for those who prefer their cocktails on the maltier side.

As part of their Bottle Shop Series, Highball Drifter pours a rather handsome deep garnet pour that's cast in a very fine haze. Its creamy ivory from soon expels a rich scent of butterscotch, brown sugar, whisky and a general fruit cocktail scent. With the first sip, a very sweet and savory blend of molasses, brown sugar, toffee and butterscotch once more.

Rich like maple syrup, the beer broadens across the middle palate and reveals the gentle additions of orange and cherry with a booze soaked twist. As the bourbon flavors gather steam, the beer trends in the direction of caramel, vanilla and coconut with a toasted oak balance and a warm whisky spice. A mild bitterness is also woodsy and helps to take an edge off of the butterscotch finish.

Full bodied yet with a relaxed sense of drinkability, the off-cloying mouthfeel is accompanied with dense and caky textures with a warm whisky finish. A long aftertaste of toasted sugars and bourbon counterparts extend deep into taste.

Aug 10, 2021
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Steve_Studnuts from Pennsylvania

4.21/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep copper red with 2 and half fingers of beige head. Carbonation is very active. Head hangs around and leaves a fairly solid wall of lace. Smells... wow. Lot going on. Bitter citrus peel and alcohol (smells like mezcal to me) right up front. Cherries steeped in moonshine. Vanilla pipe tobacco. Interesting. I really like the initial scents; reminds me a bit of their mas agave. Tastes like fucking candy. And that's not to say that it's overly sweet. It's not. It's just, you know, candy. In alcohol form. Very minimal bitterness, mere hints of booze, sweet oranges, dark dried fruit, maybe a little caramel. It's tasty as fuck. I've never had a highball so I don't know if they hit the target in that capacity, but it's struck the right chord with my taste buds all the same. Drinks maybe a little thinner than you'd expect, but I don't consider that a downside; especially on a hot, muggy day like today. Founders is really good at this sort of thing, though I'm beginning to wonder if they've any interest at all in making standard beer-flavored beer anymore.

Aug 08, 2021
Bottle Shop Series #2: Highball Drifter from Founders Brewing Company
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 86 ratings