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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 BMMillsy
4.36/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from burg. Thanks! Pours a hazy dark reddish brown with minimal cream colored head. Big bourbon maple vanilla aroma, some interesting spice notes, and sweet sweet malt. Flavor follows with a sweet vanilla maple and very subdued bourbon. Again an unexpected spicy kick toward the end here. This seems to have held up well (though did not have it fresh). Very smooth with a nice alcohol warmth. Medium low carbonation, and really drinks like a barley wine. This is excellent, despite not being a huge fan of the regular curmudgeon. I would probably take this over Sucaba. Yum. Now I just need to find a Blushing Monk to complete the set!

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Photo of Spaten454
4.72/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: it pours a burnt orange color with a small head that dissipates quickly. nice lacing. I had a lot of sediment in my pour.

S: Maple syrup, then bourbon. heaven. It smells exactly as you would think. everything blends together perfectly.

T: maple sweetness up front followed by a light bourbon in the end. Hints of caramel. nothing is overpowering. every flavor compliments the other. its not over sweet at all and the maple is fantastic.

M: Totally smooth, kinda slick like syrup. light carbonation. kinda coats the mouth.

O: Just a great beer. Def worth trying to score a bottle.

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Photo of yadehtsiyadot
4.95/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This forest is immensely dense. Foilage brushes against my legs as I make my way inward. I am at peace in this place. Light from beyond gleams through the trees, enveloping every blade of grass and every loose stick.

"This way", I hear a voice from the distance. Following it, I come across a great old maple tree. "What do you wish of me?" I question. "Share what I create by drinking from me", the old tree replies.

Reaching into my boot, I extract my pocket knife. Gently impaling the bark of the living wood, I open a prosperous floodgate. Scents of bourbon and maple encompass the forest. Pouring from the puncture is a beautiful, brown liquid.

"What is this?", I ponder. Reading my thoughts, the great maple replies, "This is you". "But I am me", I argue. "How can this be?" The old tree continues, "You are everything. But you divide yourself. You cut yourself in half, then quarters, then eigths, sixteenths, etc...forgetting what you truly are".

Confused, I bend down and take a gulp of the nectar. Everything is understood. This is me. This is my Better Half.

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Photo of mnphish
4.57/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap in MPLS at Pracna on Main on 4/25/13. Reviewed from fresh memory and a few notes.

It pours a very appealing caramel orange with little to no head, relatively hazy, just a very bright and warming hue.

It smells of tamed down bourbon and maple, followed by oak, vanilla, brown sugar, booze, and sweet dry fruit. Very inviting.

The taste follows nicely with a huge malt body, and sweet sugar fruits. The maple and bourbon aren't perhaps as big and dominating as i'd like, although it allows for more base beer flavor. Very impressive.

Medium body, light carbonation, massive oak, and light warming. Although the consensus is that this beer is on the downslope, I think it's drinking fantastic now and I bet it still tastes amazing in a few years.

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Photo of pmarlowe
4.15/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Scoot1969 for this. Tulip glass.

A: Barely a shimmer of tan colored head, leaving just a thin ring over a deep caramel body. Very good clarity, no lacing, and decent retention.

S: Dark fruit and spice, this smells like Christmas. Herbal, grassy honey, mint, caramel. Loads of syrupy molasses. A little alcohol burn. The barrel character is quite tame, but the nose exhibits excellent complexity.

T: Sweet, syrup-like molasses, vanilla, rich caramel, a bit of alcohol and bourbon, Andes candies, with a little hop bitterness on the finish. Lots of chocolate mint… interesting.

M: Full bodied, medium-light, soft carbonation.

O: The overriding flavor is very prominent vanilla-infused, minty syrup. Pretty unusual and good complexity, which makes this good slow sipper, but probably limits how much of this you could drink.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.24/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle opened on 3.29.13

A - Pours a dark carmel brown with a small light tan head with good retention.

S - Bourbon, maple, molasses. As advertised.

T - Rich carmel and toffee, then some licorice, bourbon and oak in the finish.

D - Heavier body with good carbonation.

O - Lots of bourbon and molasses make this a sweet carmel bourbon delight.

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Photo of JohnQVD
4.62/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours copper with suspended solids and a razor thin head. Smells of bourbon, brown sugar and maple. Taste is bourbon heavy and sweet with mild bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium with light carbonation. Aftertaste is lingering bourbony bitterness.

This is a fantastic beer. The original is very good, and the bourbon aging just puts it over the top.

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Photo of Hugonaut13
4.46/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml poured into a FW Snifter. Big thanks to ObiWanKushnobi for this bottle! Pro tip- turn this bottle up and down a few times gently to mix it up. Tip is from cfrances33 and obiwankushnobi.

A- Pours like reddish maple syrup. Looks thick as it pours. Enough carbonation to know it's there. Head recedes quickly. Floating chunks (like heady) sprinkled throughout the beer. Looks decadent!

S- Smells like watered down maple bourbon. Fantastic! It immediately let's you know this is a sweet treat that is going to take awhile to drink.

T- The taste starts very maple/molasses forward as that dissipates into smooth bourbon. Finishes with classic tastes of raisins, figs, toffee, and sweet malt to let you know that the base beer still exist inside. Quite sweet but not overpowering. Definitely a sipper. I'm completely enjoying this.

M- This is a heavy beer (as the style should be). Enough carbonation to keep this from being a chore to drink. Very smooth. The 11.9% is not present in burn.

O- Nice job Founders. Curmudgeon's is one of my favorite yearly releases from them and this takes it to another level. All the flavors work well together to become a rich, satisfying old ale. No single flavor overpowers the rest of the beer. If you enjoy sweet beers, seek this out.

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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 tectactoe
4.25/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

One year old, bottled Feb 2012, enjoyed Feb 2013 amongst a tasting group. Pours a copper-ish, deep amber color with very nice clarity. An almost light-yellow, eggshell like head tops this one off and leaves tiny bits of lacing along the sides of the glass.

The nose on this one is heavy and full of many different things; bourbon, oak, light vanilla, light black licorice, sweet and juicy dark fruits, boozy figs, dates, and raisins, sweet toffee and caramel, and a very faint maple aroma that comes out more and more as time goes on. I'd like to believe the maple was much heavier when fresh, but it's still hidden and can be found even a year after bottling. Sweet and boozy all around.

Curmudgeon's Better Half doesn't waste any time getting down to business. It hits the palate with a heavy mix of bourbon, oak, licorice, caramel and sweet fruits. More figs, raisins, and dates that have been soaked in bourbon, and dipped in a brown sugar bath. No surprises here - the malt is heavy and gives off a huge molasses and caramel sweetness, sugary and sticky like syrup. Oak flavors are a touch mellow, but definitely there, along with the maple syrup which seems to kind of just blend into the background with everything else.

The booze is strong on this one, especially when you consider the fact that it's one-year old and only 11.9% ABV. Feels much closer to the 15% range. The maple characteristic is strongest in the aftertaste, which is also full of more oak, sweet bread, over-ripe dark fruits, and more bourbon. Thick and almost chewy body, sticky and syrupy, low-medium amount of carbonation.

Surprisingly bourbon heavy and almost even "hot" for being a 11.9% ABV year-old ale, but still pretty drinkable and definitely full of flavor. Lots of sweetness and oak flavors, along with a very, very mild maple characteristic. Was this one worth the price? Probably not, but it was still pretty damn good. I enjoyed it.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.29/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A-Cloudy amber, some carbonation, some carbonation, one finger head with lacing.

S-Maple bourbon, molasses, very sweet. Tad bit of grass.

T-Sweet, yet balanced. Maple, molasses and bourbon. Mild bitterness in the finish.

M-Medium bodied, with some carbonation.

O-A great beer, a friend shared it, so glad. The perfect pairing with Pancakes. Bourbon and maple were great together. Wish I could have tried it fresh though.

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Photo of nlmartin
3.4/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

The bottle was chilled and served in a snifter.

A- The body of the beer is a a rusty amber coloration. The head is a creamy white coloration. A lot of sediment is noted in the bottom of my glass. This is some ugly looking shit.

S- The aroma of the beer has plenty of maple, carmelized bananas, peat and earthen notes. The aroma rounds out with vanilla and I swear I am getting rum.

T- This beers flavors are maple sweet, brown sugar a bit of peat and treaclely earthyness keeps the sweetness in check.

M- The body of the beer is medium with moderate carbonation. The mouthfeel is very sticky and a bit hot on the alcohol notes.

O- This beer is a bit on the sweet side. The peat and the earthyness of the beer somewhat conteract the sweetness. Frankly I think this beer needed a bit more time to sit in the bottle.

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Photo of Jwale73
4.11/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750ml bottle shared and served in a taster. Pours a dark amber hue that is slightly lighter than maple syrup. Nose reveals booze, maple syrup notes, a sugary character and a slightly medicinal quality. Taste expresses toffee and also candy flavors (maybe Reese's Pieces). There's also a trace of toasted wood. Mouthfeel is medium-light in body with a carbonation that is just short of lively. Texture is slightly oily. Overall, a really enjoyable BA Old Ale - that said, when I had the opportunity to try this at NOTB it was a lot more maple forward. It is still drinking very well, and the alcohol heat has dissipated, but the maple has definitely dropped off.

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

A: This poured a cloudy dark copper with a little off white head.
S: It smelled like maple and molasses and tons of oak and toasted coconut, with some vanilla and earthy roasted barley and copper hops and honey.
T: It tasted like maple and vanilla and toasted coconut and oak, with some molasses and copper hops and roasted barley and honey. It had a clean and sweet and smooth aftertaste.
M: It was very thick and viscous with some carbonation. Nice full and slick body.
D: This was a delicious old ale with great maple bourbon barrel character. I loved the scent and taste, and the body was excellent. It had a lasting but mellow finish, so it was easy to drink but worth sipping. It would likely age a long tome, but it doesn't need it since it's great fresh. Recommended, if you could find it.

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Photo of sleuthdog
4.04/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into Founders Bolt Cutter glass

Pour: Rusty brown with a shit ton of floaties and no head to speak of.

Smell: I get a sweet peat and spice smell with some oak and the sweetness of the maple syrup. Is that coriander?

Taste: Maple sweetness with some vanilla and surprisingly some hops in here. The barrel character is evident but the sweetness is dominating.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a very sticky consistency. No carbonation.

Overall: Did not enjoy this as much as I was hoping to. Decent but maybe sat on this too long?

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Photo of tut2528
4.04/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

thanks to sleuthdog for opening this one during the tasting!

A: FLOATIES!!! pours a rust color bodied, with slight off-white 1/2 fingers worth of head fromation. no lacing what so ever.

S: peat, big maple sweetness, brown sugar, very subtle bourbon, dog food (seriously, there is a hint of dry dog food). no alcohol whatsoever

T: maple sweetness forward. vanilla finish, a slight hop note, a slight touch of bourbon in there as well. not as much complexity as i thought there would be.

M: lighty bodied, but it leaves a nice coating of sugary sweetness on the teeth and palate.

O: nice solid Old Ale, but nothing to get all crazy about IMO. its a sweet maple beer all the way around, but it lacks complexity to help balance this beer out and truly making it a phenomenal brew.

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Photo of Tucquan
4.32/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on 2012-03-10 in Columbia, PA (from tasting notes)

A - Dark orange, partly cloud. A few floaties. Short tan head.

S - Oak, bourbon, peat, spice. I don't smell the maple

T - Molasses, bourbon, medium roasted malt, maple, vanilla, sharp hop tang, some pepper, candied orange, fairly sweet. Notice the alcohol. Really tasty.

M - Medium-heavy, light carbonation. Smooth. Syrupy.

O - Very enjoyable but I like CBS better. This is more like a wee-heavy.

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Photo of sjones5045
4.88/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

So this is the third, and final bottle of my Better Half stash. I've had a bottle at release, a few months later and now over a year later. The pour is dark brown and in the case of the older beer, hazy with some sediment. The smell is sweet and malty. Curmudgeon with syrup pretty much. The taste is insane. Malty and sweet like the smell. The thing I don't like is that it ruin the regular curmudgeon for me a little. Overall, top notch world class beer that I'm sad that I may not ever have again.

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Photo of yamar68
3.88/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a brandy snifter... amber gold body with good clarity except for all the little fuckers floating around in there... full finger of tan head that appears awfully boozy, large gauge carbonation, oily drapes of lace... beading with every movement of the glass.

Leafy tobacco notes, stale breakfast syrup, the heat of the alcohol is still apparent on the tail end of a good snort. Not crazy about this one judging by the nose alone.

Lots of oaky vanilla flavors on the palate accented by molasses and a distinctly maple sweetness, that same dry tobacco flavor shows itself here again, caramel and toffee malt characteristics. There's a strange lingering flavor attached to the booze bill that I can't exactly put my finger on. I can imagine how much smoother this would have been with a fresh maple syrup profile. This one has to be my least favorite of the Founders Backstage beers.

I can't see this one improving from here. Still very glad to have had the chance to try it out though. Drink 'em if you got 'em. I'll be pretty liberal with my rating since I think I should've had this one fresh.

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Photo of prototypic
4.17/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Curmdugeon’s Better Half is copper in color. It’s very clear. When held to light, it takes on more of a red appearance. It’s a really sharp looking color. An off-white head caps it off. It’s rather modest, rising to just above a finger in height. Retention was short. Perhaps the abv’s a bit too much for it to survive. Lacing was a bit sticky and moderate in volume. Good stuff.

The nose is very impressive. The base smells like a mix of caramel and toasted malts. It definitely smells sweet and sugary. Part of that is attributable to the barrel-aging in maple syrup bourbon barrels. Sweet syrup scents are definitely noted. Bourbon is there, but is more subtle. It’s a nice complement to the other scents though. Secondary scents include vanilla, oak, light dark fruit, and alcohol. Alcohol is blended well for nearly 12%. It doesn’t smell nearly that strong. Smells great! Very deep, complex, and intriguing.

The flavor is very good, but it is just a tad too sweet. The malt base is a strong mix of caramel and toasted malts. The caramel variety is stronger. It is VERY sweet. The mix of caramel, syrup, and sugary flavors are a huge part of the flavor profile. Having said that, the maple flavor is tasty and works well. Bourbon is there, but isn’t really the highlight. It takes a backseat to the other flavors and plays its complementary role very well. A mix of vanilla, oak, praline, light plum, and alcohol round it out. The alcohol is blended extremely well. Finishes with a mix of sugar, caramel, sugar, syrup, and sugar.

The body is medium and it is extremely smooth. Carbonation is dialed back nicely and the bubbles feel very soft. This is easy drinking for such a big beer. Scary drinkability. Proceed with caution.

There’s no doubt – Curmudgeon’s Better Half is extremely good beer. If you have a big sweet tooth, you’ll love it. This one’s just a little sweet for me, and that holds it back a little. Very, very impressive stuff though. Definitely worth seeking out.

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4.97/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

$18 for the 750nL, served slightly chilled in a tulip
Sampled 05NOV12

[A] From a slowly glugging pour, less than a finger of light tan head rises. Retention is average but a creamy film and foamy collar remain until the end if the glass. The tiny bubbles move slowly through the noticeably thick medium amber colored body. Straggles of lacing cling to the glass in unpredictable fashion.

[S] At this age, just above a hint of maple syrup sweetness remains on the nose. The bourbon barrel character is simply amazing. The subtlety is refined, blending perfectly with the more complex notes of of oak, brown sugar, caramel, butter, a drop of vanilla & the right amount of alcohol.

[T] I assume that the molasses fermented out completely because it is undetectable to my senses - and I'm usually adverse to it. I do, however, pick up on some modestly dark sugar flavors on the back end of the palate at warmer temperatures, but they are much closer to buttery caramel than molasses.

[M] Overall sweetness is balanced by a tannic oakiness at midpalate and a shot of dryness right before the residual sweetness resumes. A pleasant alcoholic warmth begins in the belly and slowly rises to the tongue. "Heat" is not a practical consideration. Effervescence is appropriately low, creating a rich, thick, tongue lathering texture. Soft and plush. Just glorious.

[O] A fresher bottle put out stronger maple aroma and flavor, but the mouthfeel at 9 months (or so) now has little to no room for improvement. And since the maple *is* still lingering, it's a trade-off I'll take any day of the week. What else can I say? This is my kind of beer.

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Photo of ChiPool
3.98/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into Founder's snifter. Can't find a bottle date, but purchased back in February: consumed & reviewed 12/23/12.

I'm so accustomed to BA stouts, I forgot this was an old ale. I realized this upon the pour, as it is a medium amber color, with moderate carbonation & about a quarter-inch of cream colored head. It's cloudy: plenty of floaties present. The nose gives you no doubt about the bourbon presence: boozy, a touch of honey there as well. the booze is well blended on the palate, though: very little booziness there for a big boy like this. As this opens up, the molasses make itself more prominent. The bourbon & molasses pair well: not much there in bitterness at all. The mouthfeel is superb: just right. It gains a bit of density as it warms, but nicely balanced overall.

Nice change of pace for a BA option (old ale as opposed to a stout). My only complaint is that it is a touch heavy on the molasses. Make sure to have a friend when you open this...or hunker down!

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Photo of andrewjraab
4.41/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes from 12-14

A. Pours a golden amber brown. Good clarity. Big off white head that quickly shrinks. Not much stick or retention to speak of.

S. sweet and malty, big blast of sweet bourbon and maple syrupy goodness. Smell makes me hope to one day enjoy one of these before during and after a pancake breakfast.

T. Sweet molasses, malts, bourbon, and oaky.

O. This is amazingly smooth for the alcohol content and walks such a delicate yet unique flavor trail. Was this a one time deal for the back stage releases? I hope not.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.49/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Barcade, founders tap night

A - Low white head, poor retention and lace. Hazy ice tea body.

S - Maple syrup, brown sugar, scotch, vanilla, black cherry.

T - Caramel, coffee creamer, cherry concentrate, scotch, vanilla, vanilla wafers, lemon frosting.

M - About as smooth as you could ever ask for. Full, creamy body; but not syrupy.

O - Drinks like Scotch with an incredibly smooth, sweet honey finish.

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Photo of Optifron
4.46/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed 11/18/2012 on-tap during Founders day at Crane Alley in Urbana, IL

Appearance: Mid-red brown. Thin head sticks around. Bit hazy.

Aroma: Big vanilla hit. Wood. Malty sweetness.

Taste: Big upfront sweetness (more than say, Backwoods Bastard), including a small vanilla hit. Some wood and hop bitterness to finish.

Mouthfeel: Very, very velvety. Slight carbonation. Sweet, salivating.

Overall: Fantastic. Leaves some alcohol warmth. Great vanilla flavors. Would be hard to drink a ton of it.

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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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