Curmudgeon's Better Half
Founders Brewing Company

Curmudgeon's Better HalfCurmudgeon's Better Half
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English Old Ale
Ranked #5
Ranked #627
4.33 | pDev: 9.7%
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
Curmudgeon's Better HalfCurmudgeon's Better Half
Notes: Old ale aged in bourbon barrels previously used for Michigan maple syrup.

Formerly known as Kaiser Curmudgeon.

What tames an Old Ale like Curmudgeons? The tender embrace of oak and sweet maple? That's what. The result is Curmudgeon's Better Half. A harmonious matrimony of our deceptively smooth Old Ale brewed with molasses and time aging spent aging in bourbon barrels that have previously held maple syrup. Because all counterpart should be sweet. Rich and utterly delicious.
Reviews: 516 | Ratings: 1,780 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of rex_4539
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

L: Hazy dark amber color, quarter finger tan colored head, nice thin lacing, light carbonation.

S: Malts, sweet, oak, alcohol.

T: Malts, lots of alcohol, oak, sweet-ish, bourbon. Very good.

F: Full bodied, tons of flavor.

O: Excellent ale from Founders, heavy on alcohol.

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Photo of Parmesan
4.34/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L:. Pours a clear brilliant Amber orange with a small head and no lacing.

S:. Strong hints of Bourbon, molasses, maple syrup, a lot of sweetness, some caramel, and toffee.

T:. Lots of sweet maple and molasses, vanilla, and a mellow Bourbon, some caramel. Sweet and decadent, but not overly sweet.

F:. Big body, prickly carbonation.

O:. This beer is sweet, but not overly sweet, a very nice dessert beer.

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Photo of fountainofyouth
4.39/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a translucent amber-orange with barrel sediment and a large, fluffy, off-white head.

Smell: Very sweet and fruity. Apricots, figs, butterscotch, toffee. Kiss of hops.

Taste: Follows the nose, but the sweetness is balanced some by bourbon from the oak aging. Teensie bit of burn from booze, but not in an unpleasant way. Not cloying.

Feel: Round, with light carbonation.

Overall: Really well executed, an enjoyable sipper.

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Photo of Vetbidder
4.21/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Brownish orange colored with no head to speak of. Very sweet malty boozy nose. Did I mention sweet. Tons of liquor on the flavor with a sweet edge that defeats most of the bite. Really thick and rich yet prickly carbonated. Don’t know how much of this I could drink but it’s good stuff.

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Photo of dd53grif
4.39/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark brown with a foamy head that disappears quickly. Caramel and vanilla aromas. Barrel-Aged so the boozy taste comes out but a nice sweetness to it. No noticeable bitterness. Great mouth feel.

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Photo of JonnoWillsteed
3.81/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

L- Deep chestnut with a red tinge. Very slight haze, pours with 3mm cream ultra-fine foam head.
S- It smells of liquor, unsurprisingly whisky. That dominates for me, perhaps masking other less prominent aspects.
T- Woah! Whisky, pungent enough it literally made me shudder (good heavens!). But in mitigation I'd also point out it was my first sip of any beer today. Now continuing, I am noticing woody notes and a broad rich background.
F- It is quite a rich beer, one I treat as a slow-sippin' one. I could happily have this in place of a dessert-wine in the same way as port etc. This would go very well with dessert, or cheese+crackers. This one is going down a real treat.
O- I'd read a range of reviewings from low-score to high. I was concerned by some observations suggesting it's almost cloyingly sweet; I don't favour 'sweet' beer, but I don't think this goes that far. Sure it has sweetness, BIG richness too, but the pungency of the ABV% balances it in the overall impression. I don't like whisky, it's gin for me; but I'm perfectly happy with the clear/loud whisky notes in this beer.
I handed the glass to my wife (with no cues on what it was), and she didn't get whisky at all, or at least she thought she got a whiff of it after I told her about it, and she was on her 5th or so sip.
So. I'm not into sweet beer nor whisky, but I'm enjoying this, it's different but polished. I would start with it having a decent chill on it, then enjoy slowly as it warms and evolves.
Previous reviewers suggested major sediment. I don't know, maybe they aren't used to any sediment? I'd rested the bottle for a few days after moving it, poured carefully and got hardly any - as expected from a bottle-conditioned beer. But there wasn't much sludge left in the bottle either, so a bit of a mystery.
Bottle 355ml £5.59 from Beerhawk/UK. Bottled on: '08/15/18', batch code 1716-6

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Photo of chinchill
4.33/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle with a 28 August 2018 bottling date. Repeated (same vintage) in April and May 2020: rating adjusted upwards.
Pours with a dark, slightly murky, reddish-brown body topped by a weak head.
Sweet bourbon dominates the aroma and has a strong presence in the flavor. The flavor, however, is more complex, woody and earthy than the aroma suggests. This is quite sweet up front and has a hint of maple but it carries a bitter aftertaste.
Feel: Smooth medium body with remarkably well hidden ABV.
Will revisit with a more aged bottle.

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Photo of jopezu
5/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

pours a clear red mahogany full of floaters, with a thin head. nose; caramel, maple, vanilla, & ethanol. taste; easy caramel malt, black tea, maple/molasses, brown sugar, candied orange, citrus hops, with a tinge of ethanol. very well-controlled for the abv, heavy carbonation & full, velvety mouthfeel. a fantastic sipper that stays interesting and warms the heart. one of founders' best!

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Photo of TH28
3.68/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

8/28/18 bottle date. Appearance: Copper brown, fairly clear, with a light off white head.
Aroma: Sweet malt with vanilla from oak, with a tough of molasses syrup
Taste: Intensely rich and cloyingly sweet, with molasses and dark sugar overpowering the malt and bitterness. Vanilla and tea notes shown up on the back end.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with some viscosity and low carbonation.
Finish: Dark sugar, tea, rich maltiness
Overall: The residual sugars in this beer are cloying and make for a difficult drink. If there was a contrast or sharp bitterness to counter the sweetness it would work. Lots of pleasant layers of flavor here, but the combination doesn’t work well.

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Photo of stevoj
4.09/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very tasty, malty ale. Pours out a murky, orange copper color with spare head. Malty, musty, woody aroma, fall leaves and decay. Taste is some sweetish malt, a hint of alcohol, maple syrup, toffee, caramels. Very delicious and very easy to drink. Gone before you know it....

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Photo of q33jeff
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25


Bottle to snifter. aged about 14 months.

This is about the 4th or 5th sampling of this I've had, but the first time I've taken note of it.
Sampling alongside Backwoods Bastard, KBS and Underground Mountain Brown.

LOOK: reddish brown color, clear, with HUGE foamy head. Retention is world class.
AROMA: Molasses and bourbon and oak, with a touch of maple.
TASTE: Super sweet, maple and molasses meld into a general sweetness. Oak and bourbon are there also and pleasant.
FEEL: low-to-mid carbonation. Sticky thick. medium to full body.

Another excellent Founders Brew. A little too sweet, but otherwise pleasant in every way.


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Photo of Jhgbeth
4.84/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Simply amazing this might be the best ale I’ve had to please to buy and sip. Please don’t try it otherwise it will be gone before I can grab enough

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Photo of woemad
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle received from the madman known as Ovaltine. According to the label, this was bottled on August 28, 2018 (one year ago yesterday).

Poured into a Kane snifter (thanks, again, MacMalt), this was a dark and hazy shade of amber. Decent sized beige head for a bwer nearly 13% alcohol by volume. Modest lace.

The sweetness of maple syrup was immediately perceptible to the workers at the olfactory. Spme bourbon notes were there as well, and increased in magnitude as it warmed.

Sweet, molasses and some caramelly, toffeeish flavor up front, soon matched by oaky and boozy notes from the casks. The maple flavor was more subtle than I was expecting, being really well-integrated with the oaky bourbon notes. The finish was where the booziness really stood out the most.

Fairly full bodied, with a creamy and coating mouthfeel.

Whoa! Whole lotta flavor to this. Considering the lack of hoppy bitterness, I'm a little amazed at how well balanced this is. Don't get me wrong, it's plenty sweet, and is definitely a sipper, but it could have been so much more cloyingly sugary. Maybe I should've waited until after dinner. This would've made an outstanding dessert beer on a chilly wet night like tonight is shaping up to be. Thanks, Mike!

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Photo of DoctorZombies
4.67/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

At 57 degrees pours a deep amber (18+) with excellent clarity; ecru/beige rocky head; long lasting cap; heavy ring, moderately heavy lacing; thin legs. Toffee, caramel, bourbon, oak, maple syrup nose. Taste follows nose; sweet caramel malt base; no hop bitterness left; oak and maple middle; brown sugar, boozy candy finish. Medium plus body; silky smooth feel; moderate carbonation; warmth from 12.7%; dry oak linger coats tongue. Overall an amazing BBA commercial old ale that delivers what the brewer promised; nice balance between sweet and the bourbon barrel notes; maple candy finish and enough alcohol presence to keep me interested; a delicious sipper.

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Photo of harrypowers
4.33/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a clear dark reddish brown with a small disappearing head. Low carbonation.

Tastes and smells of malt and brown sugar. Little bitterness. Medium body. The high alcohol level is evident.

A great sipping beer!

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Photo of NickSMpls
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Beautiful color - dark clear amber. The nose is maple and bourbon, hints of malts and grain. Tasting is layers and layers deep and intense flavors. Maple first, of course, then the molasses comes in with a slightly bitter sharpness followed by the smoky bourbon and a hint of hops. This is an excellent beer and has earned its place. A great beer to share on a cool early fall night on the porch.

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Photo of Mindcrime1000
4.42/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a tulip.

Pours red-copper with a tan head that has some red highlights as well. The head is very foamy and prodigious, and has remarkable staying power. The lacing is excellent as well.

The aromas are varied and complex. Bourbon, vanilla, maple, molasses, caramel malt, toffee, oak, tobacco, leather, anise, raisin, fig, and burnt sugar.

The flavor follows the nose with some other notes as well. Bourbon, vanilla, maple, caramel malt, toffee, brown sugar, molasses, raisin, cola, root beer, brandy, candied cherry, hints of char, brown bread, toasted malts, and remarkably little booze for the ABV, although it is there and warming.

The feel of this brew may be it's most-spectacular aspect. Despite its complexity, ABV, and base, it is remarkably drinkable, owing primarily to some fantastic carbonation and creaminess.

An outstanding barrel-aged OA.

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Photo of NextBestThing
4.73/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

12 ounce bottle from the last release poured medium-aggressive into a Three Floyds pint glass. 1/2 inch of head sitting on top of a mahogany body. Looks like a Curmudgeon although it's been a while since I drank one. Nice looking beer.

I cannot identify this as a barrel-aged beer on the nose. However, it is an excellent aroma, extremely sweet which is what one would expect given this beer's reputation.

Outstanding taste, and by this I mean not only pleasant but complex in that this is a persistently developing beer which transitions from one flavor profile to the next even after swallowed. Heavy, standard malty sweetness on the front palate, developing into molasses/ maple syrup and finally slightly immature oak on the back palate. There are some bourbon characteristics present, particularly the wood, but I catch little honey and zero cinnamon. This is an extremely tasty beer, a personal favorite.

Not overly heavy or unsettlingly oily, but still relatively heavy in the mouth.

A great beer. Unhesitatingly recommend, and it's a surprise to me that these things sit on the shelves long after their release. To me this is evidence that maybe it's not the 750 ml format that keeps CBS sitting around, it the fickle affection of the modern craft beer drinker.

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Photo of DaveMaciolek21
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty nice complexity up front. The molasses sweetness plays off bourbon flavors. It is a whopping 12.7% abv, and sometimes that leaks through a bit too strongly. Good density--a quality old ale.

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Photo of Oh_Dark_Star
3.96/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Many folks I run into are not fans of old ales or fisherman’s ales. I rarely find one I dislike. But that aside this beats the standard Curmudgeon and the bourbon and maple fit right in there and add both a tad more sweetness and character. A fantastic variation I will drink again without doubt.

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Photo of lastmango
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a beautiful red copper with a two finger frothy tan head. Moderate lacing. Aroma is light fruity maple syrup. Flavor starts with a Godzilla kick of sweet malt, followed by maple syrup, toffee and bourbon with just a hint of citrus. Full body and light moderate carbonation. Slightly oily. BTW . . . the booze is hidden at first and then is slaps you in the mouth! What a delight! Probably not for the hop heads but OMG, if you like malt . . . this is it.

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Photo of arizcards
4.34/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is my second four-pack as the first pack was consumed November and December 2018 without an official review. Four pack was picked up from the Craft Beer Hop Stop 12-1-18 for $17.99. Bottled on 8.15.18 and reviewed on 5-27-19.

Beer poured brown with a nice off white head with the initial pour.

Nose is very nice, maple barrel forward.

Taste is really well balanced between the ginormous malt base aged in maple barrels imparting a slightly sweet addition to the base beer with a dry and nicely hopped finish to balance things.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and very smooth.

Overall a really delicious beer that materially improved the base beer!

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Photo of Burniefloyd
3.6/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Wow. I don't know what to say. I am an IPA guy and my buddy gave me one of these. I took a big swig and got a punch in the face!
Not knowing what this was the first I thought was apples. But after he said maple I could totally taste it. It was a fruity maple so I am not sure how but I got a sweet fruit taste.
Was almost too sweet and it was very heavy.
I liked it but I don't think I could drink more than 1 or 2 in a sitting.

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Photo of FLima
4.12/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Perfect day for an Old Ale.
Amber copper color with a thick beige head with good retention.
Sweet aroma with notes of maple syrup, some wood, rather subtle bourbon, pancake, grapes and molasses.
Flavor with notes of bourbon, maple syrup, pine, caramel, oak, Port Wine, a bit of cocoa, candied orange, lots of figs and grapes. Dry aftertaste with a medium bitterness.
Bordering full body with appropriate carbonation. A bit sticky. Alcohol of 12.7% is superbly disguised, rather absent.
Complex Old Ale that grows with the degustation revealing other fruit and aged facets hidden in its molasses-maple base. Bourbon and oak are restrained; I guess to be within style. Mostly superior to English counterparties.
Although this is tuned to 12.7% abv, it is not a Barley Wine given its lower IBU and vinous and syrup character.

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Photo of Coronaeus
4.21/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep Amber with little head and none retained.

Toffee, caramel, maple on the nose.

Maple dominates the taste. Toffee, vanilla, figs and plums. Smooth. Gentle bourbon notes.

Lighter and thinner than expected.

A great beer.

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Curmudgeon's Better Half from Founders Brewing Company
Beer rating: 96 out of 100 with 1780 ratings