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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 Stinkypuss
4.57/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Founders Curmudgeon's Better Half

LOOK: Medium brown color, good clarity, light tan foam.

SMELL: Amazing notes of bourbon, oak, vanilla, malt, toffee and caramel upfront. The notes resonate in the glass.

TASTE: Malty and oaky, with a touch of maple but mostly just sweetness, smooth bourbon notes, vanilla and caramel. Really tasty stuff; rich and complex.

FEEL: Full bodied, smooth, low-medium carbonation.

OVERALL: A really great beer. Drink it first or last as it tends to overshadow others. The expressive barrel notes and most excellent base beer of Curmudgeon taste like they were always meant to be together.

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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 GameChicken
4.2/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great beer...really enjoyed it and had been looking for it for awhile.

A: burnt orange....

S: Maple, Bourbon, Vanilla....

T: Some bourbon on the nose with a nice maple/vanilla sweet finish...mild carbonation.

M: Good body with mild carbonation...not much carb needed with this beer. Good lacing on the glass despite minimal head.

O: Another great beer from Founders. Kind of reminds me of Backwoods Bastard, and that is a great thing. I wish they would make this in larger batches.

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Photo of claspada
3.96/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of mcgwire756.

Pours a hazy bright ruby color with a small but frothy off white head that leaves some nice sticky solid lacing as the head recedes. I am really impressed with the sticky lacing; enticing to say the least.

The aromas begin with sweet, malt-forward notes scented of caramel candy, dark brown sugar and maple. Oak tannins and bourbon emerge more and more as it warms. Boozy spirit aromas continue to emerge and is eventually all I can discern.

The tastes follow the nose initially with sweet malt and maple notes starting off. Then I get the oak, vanilla and darker caramel candy flavor. Solid caramelized brown sugar maltiness and light cocoa is complemented but the underlying bourbon presence emerges more and more as it warms.

The mouthfeel is medium to heavy bodied with medium carbonation. Finish is definitely sweet but stays away from being cloying thanks to the oak/bourbon barrel aging which imparts a slight dryness into the finish.

Overall, this beer initially did not impress me and the aromas really never did, but as it warmed the flavor profile really came into its own and become really enjoyable. I have been very non-into overly bourbon strong beers, which I assumed this would be from the aroma, but the old ale style flavor profile highlighted by caramelized malts and maple sugar sweetness counteracts the brash bourbon and oak barrel highlights. Not sure if this is really an Old Ale per say (I don't think the base beer is a great example either, so that makes sense), but I am pleased by the drinkability and elegant flavor profile of this offering so early in its inception. Well worth seeking out and recommended for fans of the style.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.37/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle poured into a snifter.

(A)- Pours a candy apple red hue. Produced a nice cap of tan froth. Decent retention. Good lacing. Tons of sediment floaties unfortunately.

(S)- A nice mellow-like rich maple, caramel, toffee, and fig profile. Very subtle dry oak.

(T)- Right off the bat, the rich maple, vanilla, and gingerbread-like malt flavors are really nice. Underneath that is the caramel/toffee/fig finish.

(M)- A nice smooth carbonation level. A really nice balance too. Too bad all the sediment showed up though. . . it is causing it to get really chewy and grainy; tons of bitterness as it warms. Well hidden ABV and a balanced richness.

(D)- Despite the sediment really throwing off the mouthfeel and some aspects of the taste and appearance, this is really quite nice. The maple really enhances this and created a nice twist from the usual Curmudgeon ale.

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

Big thanks to tobelerone for sending this one. Poured into a Russian River glass.

Lighter in color than I expected. A kinda-clear copper, with the shadows of objects visible on the other side. The head gets about half an inch tall and is a very light sand color. Some spotted lace on the sides of the glass. 4

Smells like a caramel apple. Lots of the sugary stuff, with maple and buttery oak as backup. Brown sugar and a hint of spicy hops.

Same deal in the flavor — it’s like a maple-drenched slice of red apple. Caramel, burnt sugar, apple, butter, vanilla, toffee, pretty big alcohol, toast. Smooth, sweet blend. Vanilla and booze carry into the finish.

Lightly carbonated, just a soft nudge. The medium-light body is a little more thin than I’d like. Alcohol is big in the flavor but doesn’t show up in the feel, and with 12 percent ABV, this is a major feat.

Curmudgeon’s Better Half paired absolutely perfectly with an apple tart provided by rickyn06. The cinnamon in the tart works crazily well with the maple in the beer. Brings out the toastiness as well.

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Photo of jimmy82063
4.33/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First beer for my vacation!

A) Looking directly down in the glass this is a very nice amber brown with a thin head that quickly dissipates.

S) Bourbon, Maple and a bit of Vanilla

T) Bourbon is definitely up front, followed by the maple and molasses. Vanilla is also present. There is a nice spiciness as well.

M) Very smooth alchohol is very well hidden.

O) Great beer....wish I had another!

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Photo of Gosox8787
4.32/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 22 oz. bomber bottle courtesy of Centennial. Served slightly chilled from the refridgerator. Poured into my Kate the Great glass.

Appearance: Dark brown in color with some nice ruby highlights. Pours a one finger, creamy beige head with surprisingly good retention for the ABV. Recedes into a nice lacing around the edge.

Aroma: A surprisingly amount of maple, paired nicely with some bourbon upfront. I get a lot more maple here than I remember in CBS, but it doesn't strike me as cloying at all. The bourbon presents in notes of vanilla, caramel, coconut and molasses. Some nice figs and dark fruit notes as well. Really pleasant.

Taste: Maple and bourbon notes dominate again. I am not finding this that boozy at all. The 11.9% is really nicely hidden. All the vanilla, bourbon, caramel and coconut comes together and creates a nice profile. Some of the base beer is also present beneath. some nice dark fruits and figs tempered with a touch of medicinial hops. Again, not too sweet to be undrinkable at all. Really impressed by this.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied. Really smooth and a touch creamy. Really nice carbonation.

Overall, a really nice beer with great notes of maple and bourbon. A definite improvement on the original. Not a bad buy for the price point at all. I think this is drinking pretty well about now, even if there is a touch of booze in there. The maple is really nice and prominent at this point. I would definitely like to try this again with some time though.

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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 jaasen64
4.42/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle

A- Pours a translucent brownish amber, slightly hazy. About a finger of off-white brownish head that dissipates fast.

S- Sweet maple syrup, booze (bourbon), smells almost exactly like maple whiskeys that I've had. Sweet sugary maple syrup definitely dominates the smell. Hint of oak.

T- Very sweet maple syrup with a little bit of vanilla. Very delicious almost like drinking maple candy, not too sweet though. Slight wood taste (oak).

M- Slightly syrupy, a little bit on the heavy side, but not too heavy. Smooth and very well balanced. Goes down very easy and alcohol is very hard to detect.

O- This was a fantastic beer, the taste was absolutely delicious. The maple syrup barrel definitely comes out in the beer with the wood and maple syrup taste. From what I remember, this beer had a little bit more of a maple syrup flavor and definitely more of a wood taste then the regular Curmudgeon. Definitely recommended if you can get your hands on some.

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.38/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a 7oz tasting glass on tap at The Royale.

Pours a nice dark amber/copper color with some murky notes. There is a thin off-white head that forms with some dense bubbles that recedes quickly but leaves some lacing and goes down to a thin film.

Aroma starts off with strong caramel and molasses notes and rich oily malt sweetness. Nice notes of maple syrup sweetness with some nice woody oak notes as well. Vanilla spice and some booze can be perceived as this 12% brew shows itself in the nose.

Very sweet taste similar to the nose. Not too intense or overwhelming but definitely a sipper. Caramel, molasses, vanilla and maple syrup are main contributors. There is some woody notes on the midlle-back end and some nice Bourbon notes in there as well. Slight heat but not off putting even though it makes this beer a sipper. Nice oily, slick and velvety feel with good low enough carbonation too highlight the flavors but still give the beer a nice full feel.

Founders has knocked it out of the park so far with their Backstage Series. Im curious to see what they come up with next. Great BA Old Ale with awesome bourbon notes, great sweetness and the maple, oh the maple.

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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 bsp77
4.47/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Burnished red with thin off-white head and subtle lacing.

Smell: Kind of a laundry list of aromas - caramel, toffee, bourbon, oak, vanilla, coconut, maple syrup, plum. Pretty sweet overall, both literally and figuratively.

Taste: Very sweet. I usually have a problem with that, but not here. Malty and fruity core that is wonderfully overrun with vanilla, oak, coconut and maple syrup. Fairly boozy as well, but it fits with the profile here.

Feel: Thick, syrupy and warming, with pretty low carbonation. Smooth and a nice sipper overall.

Overall: Just great stuff. Founders is great at barrel aging, and has particularly worked wonders with these Maple Syrup Bourbon Barrels.


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Photo of VncentLIFE
2.68/5  rDev -37.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

I had such high expectations for this one. It looks exactly like Curmudgeon, but thats where the similarities end. Curmudgeon had a nice balance, but Better Half goes over the top with sweet. Theres way too much maple syrup for my tastes. I couldnt get past the sweetness, its so sweet its dry like rock or candied sugar.

I wish I had more to say, and the hype should be great, but not so much.

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Photo of sculls65
4.09/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy deep amber with creamy head that shrunk to a small cloud in the center of my tulip glass. Nose picks up bourbon, maple, all those toffee candied malts and alcohol ..and some dank wet fruit or peat or leather. The taste is sweet and smooth. Dominated by malts and sweet maple, the bourbon warmth adds a nice touch. Glad i got to try it, but sad its gone.

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Photo of bcostner1
4.42/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep, rich caramel brown/tan. Thin tan head. Looks pretty viscous as it pours.

S: Bourbon, vanilla, wood, booze, and some dark fruits maybe(?) Intoxicating aroma.

T: Upon first sip, bourbon definitely predominates with some wood in the mix too. Also get a nice melange of the following: caramelized sugar, brown sugar, dark fruits. As the beer warms, I'm getting more of a vanilla-maple-brown sugar combo and I am loving it. This is a very sweet beer to me and that may be offsetting to some people but all the different elements work extremely well together in my opinion.

M: A little on the syrupy/viscous side (which I guess is what you get when you age a beer in bourbon maple syrup barrels). The alcohol is definitely present and, combined with the viscosity, makes this a sipper for sure. I consumed the bomber in 2 parts myself.

Overall, a fantastic beer and one that I am extremely glad that I had the privilege of trying. I have one to age and am curious to see what some time does to this brew.

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Photo of travMI13
4.62/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage. 750 mL bottle served into a CBS snifter.

A: Pours a hazy orangeish, reddish, brown tone with a small off-white head. The head dissipates fairly quickly, leaving a decent amount of lacing.

S: The nose reminds me a lot of fresh raisin bread. I'm getting bread and raisins with hints if cinnamon, maple, and booze.

T: Strong maple flavor up front. Very sweet. Getting some of the breadiness from the nose along with a lot of spices. The booze is incredibly well-hidden. This is a challenge to describe accurately. My best analogy is coffee cake soaked in BLiS maple syrup, and I think that's exactly what it is supposed to be. Sublime.

M: The sweetness and stickiness linger for quite a while. The mouthfeel is very syrupy, even though it's not very thick for an olde ale. I almost wish it was a bit heavier, but that's a very minor complaint.

O: This beer is absolutely outstanding. I'm enjoying it immensely. The sweetness and the spiciness might not be for everyone, but this is right up my ally. Just another well-executed barrel-aged beer from Founders. The Founders barrel-aging program just might be the best in the business, and this one is just another feather in their cap.

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Photo of Gobzilla
4.42/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A; poured a dark brown in color with caramel brown highlights and had a nice finger worth of head that left some good lacing sticking to the glass.

S: lots of maple syrup was apparent in the aroma with bourbon barrel characteristics, some caramel, sweet malts, and traces of booze as well; very nice nose.

T: The maple syrup and bourbon barrel characters was more prominent on the palate alongside vanilla caramel accents but with nice sugar sweetness.

M; the brew was medium in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a sweet, maple syrup, bourbon barrel, vanilla, and sticky finish.

O; it was a very tasty old ale with a great aroma. Wish I could get my hands on more of this beer

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Photo of Stunner97
3.94/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- dark brown with thick white head off pour that quickly fades to white lacing, small amount carbonation and very murky and cloudy

Smell- wow such great nose, vanilla, malt, syrup, and oak great nose,

taste- the taste is very very sweet up front and than has faint spice and hop at then end that trys to wrap it up with bit dryness on the finish, you do get some vanilla and oak and some maple, the flavor though good is not quite as complex as you are thinking may get off the vibrant nose, tons bourbon and booze, probably a bit boozy, may need age,

Mouthfeel-medium to full bodied with very smooth feel, can def get some warmth from full booze level

Drinkability/overall- This was very tasty and complex beer, would I call it world class probably not but certainly a world class nose, I would be interested to see what a bit of age would do in this beer, maybe I came into this beer with such high hopes but for the price I guess you should, certainly a very good beer just maybe tad hot right now and a bit less complex then I was expected, hmm alot going on for sure a bit boozy and sweet to be highly drinkable, that said I will look forward to what age will give my other bottle

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Photo of davey101
4.47/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into a DFH signature glass. Big thanks to boilerbrew for the trade!

A - Clear dark red/orange body. 2 finger off-white head, very fluffy with large bubbles. Great lacing and retention.

S - I could smell the sweetness immediately after opening the beer. Super sweet toffee malts with lighter bourbon notes of vanilla and oak. A fruit aroma is also very present, I can't put my finger on it exactly buts is similar to a caramel apple. Some lingering dark fruits, brown sugar and molasses. I can't really detect any maple.

T - This beer starts off with a toffee malt flavor that you'll find in any good old ale. This is followed by a super sweet yet smooth wave of molasses and maple. Complex notes of leather, oak, vanilla, and butterscotch finish the beer off. Lightly bitter with a huge sweetness present through the entire sip. Super decadent and rich but I don't find it to be cloying at all. Alcohol heat is present as it warms up but never offensive. Mouth feel is medium bodied and a bit syrupy with low carbonation. Matches the flavor profile perfectly.

O - Wow. This beer is phenomenal. Its just a delicious old ale that was barrel aged to perfection. Tons of sweetness with just the right amount of bourbon notes. Very smooth and complex. I really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of kennylopez
4.82/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On Tap at Cloverleaf in Caldwell, NJ poured into a snifter.

Appearance: a clearer amber color with a off white fingers worth of head that leaves beautiful lacing.

Smells: a big bourbon note with sweet vanilla and hint of toffee rounded with a dark fruit.

Tastes: this is a super yummy ale. It is sweeter than the original Old Curmudgeon's with the maple syrup playing a big role along with the barrel side notes like toffee and vanilla with a generous Bourbon character.

Mouthfeels: at just under 12% this is a big beer but hard to call a sipper. I really enjoyed this and as it warms up the bourbon builds and the slight burn is super enjoyable.

Overall: I was lucky enough to score a bottle of this when it was around, and I was even more lucky when I got to have quite a few glasses at the tapping at my favorite pub. I am curious to see if the heat mellows a bit with some time, but I fully enjoyed this brew and will soak up every bit like a sponge given the opportunity. 10 out of !0, Great Job again to Founders Brewing Co.

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Photo of jmarsh123
4.35/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a somewhat clear toffee color with just a wisp of head and spotty lacing.

Aroma consists of leather, vanilla, with a hint of brown sugar sweetness. Bourbon and a little maple syrup come out as warmed.

Taste follows the nose. I get the molasses flavor up front along with the taste of drinking maple syrup. After the initial burst of sweetness, some leather, oak and vanilla come through. Finishes with a bite from the bourbon and alcohol lingers on the finish.

Thick and syrupy approaching cloying, but thankfully not hitting it. I love the maple in this. As it warms, it's a delightful thick sludge.

A little outside my normal styles enjoyed, but there was a lot of good stuff here. All the flavors were integrated nicely and it was complex without becoming muddled. I'll be aging one just to see, but I can't imagine it'll be as good once the maple fades. It's by far the best aspect.

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Photo of minterro
4.33/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle gotten from Dusty’s Cellar. Rated during the MSU Louisville game.

Really like the bottle, simplistic but elegant.

A&S: fruity esters, sweet malts, big alcohol tones. Tons of unfilteredness. Semi translucent light copper colored beer. Off-white head that doesn’t really hang around because of the ABV probably.

T&M: very hot and warming. Sweet matly upfront. Black licorice finish. Maple syrup midway to the finish. Other tones include caramel, dark fruits (mostly raisins), and brown sugar. Very smooth and viotile when drinking it, it seems to evaporate out of your throat. Medium bodied low carbonation.

O: Didn’t really live up to my personal hype about it, but it was still really good and fairly unique. To me it almost seemed like a mix of mostly old ale but partially Quad.

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Photo of marvin213
4.73/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The look isn't all that impressive, but I know this is a bad ass beer. It's translucent and a surprisingly light brown with even a yellowish tint. I respect the sediment floating all around--even on the first small pour--so perhaps I should replace "impressive" with "predictable." It must be that lighter old ale that confused me as I just casually expected yet another bourbon barrel, pitch black stout.

The nose definitely conjures up thoughts of Old Curmudgeon. It definitely has that sweeter molasses, maple syrup type feel to the aroma. The taste is pretty magnificent, as it embodies what big beers can be. It IS so much better than Old Curmudgeon, and it IS its "better half!" That syrupy sweet, sugary molasses mixed with that semi-bitter, almost chalky, sediment floating big Ol ale that George Washington would've drank really makes for the like the perfect coupling! A phenomenal concoction! That's what it is: a concoction.

I sort of understand (I'm not a brewer)--with these ingredients and the barrel aging and all--how this is a limited edition brew. As the market gets saturated with them, however, I must say that this one definitely meets and/or exceeds expectations. Cheers, and Go Heels!

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Photo of KWacker
5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had on tap at The Beverage Source in Newark, Ohio Founders tasting. Served in a tulip glass.

Wow! This beer is hands-down one of the finest I've ever had. Sweet, malty, and at 11.9% it packs a wallop!
A - Poured about inch or so of head that thins without too much lacing. Nice amber color
S - Big time malts with definite hints of caramel, vanilla, maple, and bourbon.
T - Sweetness hits first, but fades quickly as the 11.9% kicks in and you pick up the bourbon in there. Amazing and clean finish with little to no burn. Smooth as can be. Vanilla and maple hints linger back.
M - Pretty well bodied with light cabonation
O - If you see it, get it. I drove 40 minutes to have this one and would go further if I had to. Also enjoyed the Breakfast Stout and KBS on draft and I'd choose Curmudgeon's Better Half over both. Awesome job Founder's!

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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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