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Founders Curmudgeon's Better Half | Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Curmudgeon's Better HalfFounders Curmudgeon's Better Half

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.90%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Old ale aged in bourbon barrels previously used for Michigan maple syrup.

Added by Jason on 01-09-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 234 | Ratings: 970
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.97/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pour shared by cbanker at DarthKostrizer’s place.

Pours a clear dark orange with a beige head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, and maybe some subtle maple aromas. Taste is pretty much the same along with an alcohol kick in the throat with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that I am glad I got to try but I think it’s pretty boozy at this point in time.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.19/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

so much flavor in this beauty from founders, the reigning king of huge brews. this takes the best features of the old ale, the molasses, the warming quality, and the depth of the malt bill, and amplifies it enormously. the bourbon does its typical thing, charcoal and vanilla and sweet booze, predictable. what isn't predictable here is the maple aspect. no I may personally be extremely partial to anything maple, but what it does to this beer is divine, that thin distinctive sugary flavor that is so unique really melds with the molasses flavors of the old ale and the vanilla from the bourbon. it is hotly alcoholic though, which hurts it for me, I want to pound on this and I cant or I will fall asleep or worse. still, its nicely carbonated and feels lighter than it is. classic depth of flavor, especially the maple, it adds an entirely different vibe to what was already a very good beer. this needs to be copied by other brewers, there is a lesson to be learned from this. its a landmark beer really. I could see it aging longer and improving further too.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.05/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First sample I grabbed at the EBF 2012. This beer poured out as a clear looking amber color with some golden highlights. The head was white and settles pretty quickly. The smell of the beer gives off some big boozy notes and lots of caramel sweetness. The taste of the beer has that signature barrel aged flavor that Founders seems to nail every time they make something like this. The flavors of bourbon, vanilla, wood, caramel all collide in this one. The mouthfeel is soft and smooth with a moderate carbonation level and a boozy heat in the finish. Overall I would say this one might better with age to mellow out some of the heat in the finish. Either way, I found this beer to be very nice.

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Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dyan sent this one. Thanks! I included this beer in a blind tasting where it was sampled alongside King Henry, Mother of All Storms, Sucaba, Arctic Devil and Karl Strauss 23rd Anniversary.

Better Half pours a light shade of amber, decidedly lighter than I'd expect for an old ale (whatever that means by today's brewing standards). The head is thin and recedes quickly. The nose is sugary sweet, heavy on caramel malt flavors. Pleasantly barrel forward, though not as maple syrupy heavy as I was expecting; bourbon seems more dominant. The palate is similar, showcasing sticky, sweet pale and caramel malt flavors that are backed by even more sweetness from the maple syrup bourbon barrel. As the nose implies, there's more bourbon than maple syrup here, though I do get a nice maple undertone. The body feels a bit thin to me, and the finish is more dry than expected, and slightly astringent. Alcohol is fairly well hidden, which is certainly impressive given the 11.9% ABV. Quite good overall, but not a total knock-out like CBS.

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Photo of brentk56
4.02/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear copper color with a small head that quickly fades to a ringlet; leaving a paucity of lacing action

Smell: The scent of oak, molasses and maple dominate though there is quite a sting on the nose from the ABV

Taste: Maple flavor up front, with the oak, molasses and booze adding character by mid-palate; leathery caramel in the middle, but the finish is oaky and dry but rather sweet in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with gentle carbonation; perfect for the style

Overall: This is one of those beers that will clearly improve with age; drinks nicely now, but I suspect that I would enjoy the impact a year or two would have on this beer

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -7%

Bottle: Poured a hazy light dirty brown color ale with a medium size foamy head with average retention and minimal lacing. Aroma of sweet sugary notes with some vanilla and bourbon notes clearly identifiable. Taste is a mix of heavy caramelized malt notes with quite a dose of residual sugars and molasses with some vanilla and bourbon also noticeable. Body is quite full with medium carbonation with some wearing alcohol easily identifiable. Interesting experience for sure but maybe a bit too sweet for my taste.

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Photo of emerge077
4.12/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft, served in a small goblet that held 10 oz. at most.

Copper color, transparent when held to the light. A cirrus skim melted across the surface, looking like a smudged melting marshmallow. Some lingering webs of lace stuck around the edges.

Pungent bourbon aromas of toasted coconut, vanilla and brown sugar. Slightly sweet with a little hint of maple woodiness.

Tasted similar, some mellow oaky traces dried things out, along with some caramel flavor and maraschino juice astringency from the alcohol... Big on the vanilla/brown sugar/maple combo with a significant alcohol presence from the barrel. Lingering bourbon traces in the aftertaste. It's well blended and fairly drinkable, medium bodied and sticky on the lips. Overall, it's worth trying or looking for, but not really worth any extra hoop-jumping to buy a bottle.

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Photo of zeff80
4.29/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a clear, copper color with a one-finger, tan head of bubbly foam. It left sudsy trails of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of caramel, maple and some strong bourbon notes. Mild vanilla and oak aromas, too.

T - It tasted of bourbon and maple with a toffee backbone. There are mild oak flavors, too.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale with a warm alcohol presence.

O - This is a really unique beer. I liked the maple flavors. Another great rare beer from Founders.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.47/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Big Hunt on President's Day. Served in a something or other; I shamefully didn't write that part down. Glassware fail. Let's pretend it was in my Founders tulip.

Pours a fairly-dark caramel-copper color with a bit of an off-white head and some spotty lacing on the way down. The nose brings forward some really nice maple notes along with some toffee and caramel. The background has a bit of bourbon, oak, and vanilla with some butterscotch thrown in for good measure. For whatever reason, I also got notes of caramelized banana. Either way, it was awesome, so let's roll with that.

The flavor certainly didn't fall off. Great maple and barrel notes with sweet caramel and a touch of fruit. Brown sugar there as well. Caramelized banana yet again. I can't get away from that. Medium-full body with a slick texture and nice carbonation. Just a touch of warming booze. Founders strikes again. One of America's beer champions.


Original review of the first batch of Founders Kaiser Curmudgeon:

Pours bright ruby with a nice white dad and lacing. Nose is a bit rich. Caramel and fried banana are the initial scents. Slight sweetness. Taste is quite sweet. Caramel and candied fruits. Slight banana. Mouthfeel is rich and only slightly hot. This will age very nicely.

4.5 / 4.0 / 4.5 / 4.0 / 4.0 (September 4, 2010)

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Photo of oline73
4.3/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy reddish amber color with a half finger of off white head that fades to a ring around the edge of the pour.

Smell: Sweet malt with some brown sugar notes. Some maple syrup along with some alcohol heat.

Taste: Sweet malt with some dark fruit notes along with some alcohol heat. I love the maple syrup notes. I'm getting some mild coconut along with a bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: The body is a bit syrupy with smooth carbonation and a slightly dry finish.

Overall: Big fan of this one. Just enough bitterness so the malt isn't overpowering. The maple and coconut notes were wonderful. I'd definitely have this one again.

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Photo of jlindros
4.3/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled at EBF from keg.

Creamy small head, slightly hazy maple colored beer.

Nose sweet malts, brown sugar, molasses, light bourbon, barrel, vanilla, maple, raisin like fruits

Taste sweet! Raisin, brown sugar, maple, molasses, maple candy, hint of barrel and smoke even, vanilla, chewy malts, creamy, light booze, touch of bourbon, hint of esters, finish is a bit bitter and more booze, brown sugar and maple all linger for a while.

Mouth is rich full bodied, bit syrupy, decent carb, with some warming and almost tingly booze.

Overall delicious, but I think I remember the "Kaiser Carmudgeon" being a bit better, but that may have been my memory playing tricks on me.

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Photo of mothman
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks Andrew for sharing.

Pours a little white head. Color is an orange amber.

Aroma: lots of maple syrup and barrel flavors. Toffee, caramel, and lots of malts. A little mint. Bourbon and oak.

Taste: mimics the nose but there is a little less mint and more maple syrup. A little more sweet and malty. Nice barrel flavors.

Mouthfeel: warming and smooth. Medium to full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends sweet and syrupy.

Overall, a bit too sweet for me, but the flavors were good. The maple bourbon barrels were nice but they brought a mint flavor with it that I didn't like.

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Photo of superspak
4.32/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1300th review! 750 ml bottle into snifter, bottled in 2/2012. Pours lightly hazy ruby red color with a 1 finger dense cream colored head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lacing cap that lasts. Spotty foamy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big caramel, maple syrup, bourbon, raisin, fig, molasses, toast, toffee, brown sugar, herbal earthiness, oak, leather, pepper, light vanilla, and light coconut. Fantastic aromas with great complexity and balance of barrel character and malt notes; hardly any alcohol presence. Taste of big caramel, molasses, maple syrup, toast, toffee, bourbon, raisin, fig, vanilla, oak, pepper, herbal earthiness, leather, and light coconut. Lingering notes of caramel, maple syrup, molasses, toast, toffee, raisin, fig, bourbon, vanilla, oak, pepper, leather, and herbal earthiness on the finish for a while. Fantastic balance and complexity of robust malt flavor with well balanced barrel character; and zero cloying sweetness present after the finish. Medium carbonation and very full bodied; with a very creamy, slick, and thick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a fantastic barrel aged old ale. Fantastic complexity and balance of malt and barrel flavors; and moderately smooth to sip on. A highly enjoyable slow sipper.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.32/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours out a near clear, medium amber body with a modestly-sized, off-white head.

Smell: Sweetish, malt-forward notes scented of caramel candy, dark brown sugar, and maple featuring supporting scents of plum jelly and oak-tinged bourbon.

Taste: Flushed with a large upfront sweetness of caramelized sugars, brown sugars, and ardent traces of maple. Well-toasted maltiness. Bourbon percolated raisins, then, a bit of zested citrus with a small portion of bitterness and a warming alcohol presence. Nuances of oak wood. Sweetish, warm (though not hot) finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium carbonation.

Overall: Superb. The standard-issue Curmudgeon was a really solid beer, so this just gives it a nice little barrel-aged bump.

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Photo of Rifugium
4.47/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First had: on tap at Teresa's, Wayne, PA

Thanks to Teresa's for offering this on tap!

Served in a tulip glass, a slightly hazy mahogany brown color, with a small cap of ivory head that dissipated mostly but left some very nice lacing on the glass. Aroma was pretty boozy, with obvious notes of dark sugars and dark dried fruits, woody and leafy afterthoughts. Tasted delicious...brown sugar, molasses, maple, quite boozy, but not really a distinctive bourbon profile until it was allowed to get a bit warmer; raisins, figs, worty malts, with touches of vanilla and licorice. Very complex and tasty, quite smooth, and more so at a warmer temp; alcohol is obvious, but it doesn't detract from the smoothness. Full bodied, and very drinkable. I had no problem ordering another.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.47/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The pour is amber in color with a white head. Lots and lots of vanilla and maple aromas to this. Caramel and toffee malt sweetness are well represented. Minimal wood with a good dose of bourbon to it as well. The flavor is just as wonderful. Lots of bourbon, maple, vanilla, and caramel. Maybe a little bit of brown sugar to go with it all. A little bit of oak flavor and dark fruit.

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Photo of orangesol
4.14/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served from the bottle at Al's of Hampden. Thanks for the chance to try this one Al.

A - Pours slightly murky copper orange with a small half finger tall off white head leaving very thin streaks of lace down part of the glass.

S - Smells of caramel, toffee, butterscotch, vanilla, oak, brown sugar and the maple syrup from the bourbon barrels. A bit of booze develops toward the end of the glass but it still smells great.

T - Starts off with lots of sweetness - mostly caramel, toffee, butterscotch, brown sugar, etc. - slowly giving way to hints of oak, vanilla and the maple syrup / bourbon from the barrels. The booze is light initially growing stronger and stronger as it sits in the glass. Finish is pretty sweet with a touch of booze burn, lingering on the pallet for some time after consumption.

M - Medium body with a rather sweet flavor and moderate carbonation. The sweetness is strong throughout, lingering long after the finish.

O - I rather enjoyed this one. It packs a ton of flavor and it was still pretty easy to drink, minus the slight booze kick. I am really starting to like all these Old Ale's I have been having recently.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.12/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes.

A: Pours brown with a small off-white head on top with some decent lacing that hangs on the sides for a while.

S: There was some maple, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, and bourbon all mixed together. On the sweet side, very inviting.

T: A nice blend of bourbon and maple. Brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, and some oak. It has a nice sweetness, but not over the top at al.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation. Alcohol hidden nicely.

O: One of my favorite Old Ales, probably because of the barrel aging. Would certainly drink again.

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Photo of billab914
4.3/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle poured into my Dogfish snifter. It poured brown orange in color with a thin, sticky lacing scattered across the top of the beer.

The maple syrup bourbon barrels really stand out in the aroma for me. I get some bourbon, brown sugar and vanilla mixing with the maple syrup sweetness. The malty sweetness in the base beer comes out as well, but the maple and bourbon steal the show for me. There is a lot of sweetness to it, but the flavors are good enough to pull it off.

The taste also shows some very good bourbon and maple flavors to it. The bourbon is very smooth with more of the maple and brown sugar sweetness showing up up front, with oak and vanilla coming out towards the finish. The taste feels more balanced than the aroma did with some bitterness towards the finish really helping in that department. Everything really comes together well in it.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side with carbonation being a little above average. Overall, I thought it was a very good beer. The bourbon and maple flavors were definitely the highlight and maybe even overshadowed the beer a little too much, but they were pretty great flavors. The flavors all really work together well. Really good beer overall.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.1/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Still not sure why this has not been merged with Kaiser's Curmudgeon yet but guess I'll review it until it has. had it again as CBH up at Night of the Barrels in Boston and 3 weeks ago in a bottle thanks to Huhzebenda; thanks Matt. I liked it much more from the bottle.

a - Pours a deep mahogany brown color with two inches of light tan head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of caramel, oak, bourbon, maple, roasted malts, and toffee.

t - Tastes of caramel malts, maple syrup, oak, vanilla, sugar, bourbon, and toasted malts.

m - Medium to full body more on the full side, and low carbonation. Thick and smooth.

o - A very nice maple beer. Some nice sweet maple, vanilla, and caramel, would certainly like to have it again.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.87/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Straight up declicous on draft at Mad Mex I'm in love with these beers from Founders on barrel aged whiskey and maple syrup. This one fantastic version of the beers that I don't care for fresh but damn aged on both bourbon and Maple syrup barrels there's nothing out there like this in the world. Appears a deep caramel amber body with creamy tan head forming thick in my chalice. Aroma has deep chocolate and candy coated whiskey barrel notes excellent stuff indeed...incredible complex caramel alcohol and whisky accents to make one incredible beer going on. Toffee is warming up with sweet caramel layers and whiskey oak tones even vanilla coming from the charred oaky notes...big vinous layer of fruits like plums, raisins, and other super saturated sugar content fruit additions. Amazing in the balance even though it's sweet it's not an overkill beer, I'm glad I've come across it during a PCBW even. Mouthfeel is way too smooth for the alcohol level this beer goes down incredibly easy without difficulty. Maple syrup adds a whole other complex layer to an already big and good beer profile, this beer comes off complex delicious and I want more.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.12/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer is amber colored and mildly hazy with a small white head. The aroma is the best aspect of the beer, in my opinion. Oak, vanilla, maple, sugar, syrup, booze. The flavor is complex and well done, albeit too sweet. This seems like a beer that will age gracefully. Lots of oak, sweet maple, vanilla. Alcoholic warmth in the finish. A few ounces of this beer is plenty. I am looking forward to opening another one of these further on down the road.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.5/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle poured into a Kate the Great snifter. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Pours a deep amber body. Decent head with decent lacing.

Smell - Apples, bourbon, maple. Big molasses aroma. The aromas complement each other very nicely.

Taste - Even better. Apples subdued. Much stronger maple syrup. Sweet dark sugar flavors. Nice earthy hop bitterness to keep it balanced. Awesome.

Mouthfeel - Boozy, for sure. Easy to drink, surprisingly. Almost too light considering the ABV.

Overall - Quite spectacular flavors. Much better than Old Curmudgeon. Every beer needs to be put in maple syrup bourbon barrels.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.59/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Founders Curmudgeon's Better Half, or if you want to be the beer geek of all beer geeks, "CBH". Old Ale brewed with molasses and aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels. "Maple syrup bourbon barrels?" What is that? Maple syrup bourbon barrels? Which ones? What? 11.9% ALC./VOL. Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, MI. No gobbledygook whatsoever, only legal crap, so let's jump on in…

Dark crimson hue, small head, turns to a tight ring.

Aroma is utter decadence. Hedonism in a bottle. Maple and bourbon blended with old ale? How much richness can you take? Bam! Hit after hit of sweetness, least of which is the rich malt backbone. Whiskey, vanilla, cherries, maple and more.

Taste: All of that and so much more. Intensely delicious. Caramel, toffee and chocolate tones dance with the dark fruit and the effects of the barrel. Despite the incredible hugeness of this affair, it's even slightly a chore to drink. He says, perhaps too early. I'm not even halfway through this bottle, and damn, but I will finish it.

And damn, it is impressive. All the parts hang together in all the right ways, and the sweetness sticks out, bolstered by the booze, but it holds it's own appropriately. Mmmm, mmm, I have to say, mostly because I haven't said it yet, and sometimes it needs to be said. Mmm, says me, mmmm.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.45/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into my Dogfish Head snifter glass. Let's see how Kaiser here goes from his on tap version back in the day.

Nothing like Kaiser on tap. An absolutely gorgeous ruby crystal clear shimmering body, faint tan head falls leaving a whispering top and a tan collar. Spotted leopard like lacing, and faint legs of sheets. This body color is just like a gem it's beautiful.

Bouquet is mellow, soft, slight icing sugar, barleywine rich without the boozey character, mellow hops, subtle beef jerky, caramel, and faint maple syrup. I don't get the sense something really sweet is coming. This is like a real nice subdued and rich barleywine on the nose with a unique profile.

Taste bring a solid palate, bringing the nose notes nicely. Nothing overbearingly sweet, maple sugar comes in slowly, finish highlights this wonderfully. The bottle truly does manage the notion, it tastes like pancakes, pat of butter and hint of maple syrup. No sense of hot heat at all, not even warming in the stomach.

Overall, I am just shocked at how different this is in appearance and taste compared to Kaiser, it's not even the same thing, and out of the bottle it's real impressive. I was tempted to just trade this, but I am really glad I tried it. It's just great. Founders = magic in a barrel.

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Founders Curmudgeon's Better Half from Founders Brewing Company
4.3 out of 5 based on 970 ratings.
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