Underground Mountain Brown
Founders Brewing Company

Underground Mountain BrownUnderground Mountain Brown
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American Brown Ale
Ranked #1
Ranked #573
4.4 | pDev: 7.05%
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
Underground Mountain BrownUnderground Mountain Brown
Notes: Barrel-Aged Sumatra Mountain Brown

Underground Mountain Brown is the harmonious drinking experience only achieved when our imperial brown ale, earthy Sumatra coffee and a year aging in caves below Grand Rapids comes together. A team of malts complement the bold sumatra coffee perfectly, while time spent immersed in oak creates layers of depth and complexity. A celebration of the barrel, the bean and everything in between.
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Reviews: 71 | Ratings: 263
Reviews by Lucular:
Photo of Lucular
4.17/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

5 oz pour on draft. This is a big, boozy brown ale with plenty of coffee and bourbon flavors while still being fairly smooth. I think I prefer regular Sumatra Brown Ale but I will revisit after having this review from the bottle.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of TheSixthRing
4.37/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From tasting notes 10/20/17
Had on-tap at Founders in Grand Rapids, MI

Appearance - Served in an oversized snifter, near black with cola brown edging. Mostly barren surface with an island of suds in the center and a thin ring around the edge if the glass. Fair lacing consists of broken lines and slotting.

Smell - As with the OG, the BA has an enticing aroma. Roasted coffee, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, oak and underlying bourbon booziness.

Taste - Follows the nose. Coffee, chocolate, caramel and some bourbon qualities upfront. Bourbon holds firm throughout, adding vanilla and oak before a hint of heat bites in the chocolatey finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied with light tingly carbonation. Creamy upfront before turning a dry, slightly boozy finish.

Overall - Equally as impressive as the OG Sumatra. The BA process just adds another layer of goodness. Highly recommended if you're ever by the brewery. Hopefully they decide to add it to their Barrel Project series at some point.

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Photo of rodlavers
3.93/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of fthegiants
4.4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Scottsbeer
4.48/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of beergoot
4.35/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Mahogany brown body; clear; thick and sculpted head; sticky rings and sheets of foam inside the glass. Prominent coffee waft crosses the nostrils; roasted and charred grain notes with a touch of roasted nuts. Coffee, mocha, and toffee sum up the flavor; gently sweet with a bold bitterness; chocolate. Medium-heavy body; smooth with a gentle abrasiveness; generous residual sugar presence with a noticeable dryness at the finish.

This beer brings on an incredible and thoroughly enjoyable brown ale and coffee experience. You'll experience some excellent depth and complexity here, a fine blend of sugary and sweet malts, rich and bold coffee flavors, with a thick and creamy body. Damn fine...

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Photo of dafla67
4.6/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of von_kaiser
4.25/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Budlum
4.49/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of JakerLou
4.46/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of jrpapajcik
4.64/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

At home from the bottle.

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Photo of DavidRandall
4.35/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of kojevergas
4/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Currently rated #1 in the American Brown Ale category and #502 overall.

BOTTLE: 2019 vintage. A 4-pack ran me $12.99 USD plus tax at a beer store in New Orleans, LA. 12 fl oz format with brown glass and a pry-off crown cap. Bottled On: 08.07.19. 1657 6.

11.9% ABV. "Imperial Brown Ale brewed with Sumatra Coffee Aged in Bourbon Barrels."

Served chilled (I'll chime in with fridge temp notes later).

BODY: Deep amber-brown with some translucence at the bottom of my nonic pint. Too dark to be transparent enough to see any yeast/lees within, but I can't find any looking closely at my glass; appears filtered.

HEAD: Sits there a good 6 minutes after the pour, starting at ~4cm and receding to 2cm within 2 minutes, then slowly dying thereafter, leaving behind vestigial webby lacing. Creamy, frothy, soft, and supple.

Definitely an inviting appearance for a brown ale. Looks well-carbonated. While not overtly brown per se, its dark amber hue is beckoning enough.

AROMA: The bourbon notes are incredible - decadent vanilla bean, toasted coconut, subtle barrel sugars, vibrant oak...a knockout bourbon aroma up there with the best bourbon barrel aged beers I've encountered (including Founders' own Backwoods Bastard).

Earthy coffee is present, bringing mellow roastiness and balancing bitterness to the vanillin sweetness from the barrel notes. What I'm missing here is much of anything aroma-wise from the base beer; I'm having trouble finding any brown malt sweetness or nutty notes lurking beneath the bourbon barrel, so I'm worried the bourbon barrel will eclipse the base beer.

Aromatic intensity is moderately high. Shockingly mellow for an 11.9% ABV beer. Promises a terrific bourbon barrel flavour and a nice coffee character but it doesn't bring the goods when it comes to a base brown ale.

No off-notes are detectable. Lacks any alcohol heat. No overt hoppy aromatics.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Silky smooth, comfortingly soft, impossibly light-bodied for its ABV, and gentle on the palate. Carbonation is perfect. It's not thin or weak, but it has a very soft silky presence on the palate that makes it more approachable than it probably should be for 11.9% ABV.

Vanilla is up front (probably barrel vanillin), giving way to a splendid bourbon barrel flavour redolent of subtle toasted coconut, white oak barrel sugars, and still more vanilla...has some of the best bourbon-barrel derived vanilla flavour I've experienced.

Earthy coffee weaves its way in, never injecting much roasty flavour (to its detriment) but lending mellow balancing bitterness which is much needed without going over the top into acrid or harsh territory.

The base beer does get a bit eclipsed by the bourbon barrel character as I feared, but I do get a general malty sweetness in addition to scintillae of nougat, candied walnut, treacle, and chocolate sugar. Hershey's Chocolate syrup lands in the third act, making it a biteen too sweet towards the finish for my tastes. It's a minor gripe, though - for the most part this beer nails an ideal level of sweetness given what it's going for. Though I can't help but think a more aggressive coffee and some roasted barley additions would bring this into neater balance.

Gets gooey as its flavours taper off, landing thicker on the finish than its silky light open might have you expect.

OVERALL: A silky delicious ale - more bourbon barrel ale than brown ale proper - that is a must-try at its reasonable price point. Up there with Founders' other bourbon barrel aged marvels (Backwoods Bastard, KBS), but its coffee character doesn't rival that of Founders' own Breakfast Stout, which is a bit of a let down, and those hoping for a traditionally nutty brown ale - or an American brown with more aggressive hoppy flavours - would do best to look elsewhere. Too imperialized to be regarded accurately as a true brown ale, but absolutely worth trying and a beer I'd happily buy again.

Afterthought: Notice how (some of) the best bourbon barrel aged beers have an age statement regarding time spent in the barrels, and it's often at least 1 year.

Just exquisite. The kind of beer that makes me entertain taking up cigar-smoking.

Low A- (4.02) / EXCELLENT

09/11/19 bottle at fridge temp:

A bit more subdued than when served merely chilled, but undoubtedly a great beer. Its creamy silky soft mouthfeel is an ideal cushion for the vanilla-forward bourbon barrel flavour. Has no bourbon warmth.

About as sweet as a beer can get without becoming a chore to drink 12-16oz of.

I'd serve this chilled in the future, but if you take your time drinking it (which is hard to do given its deliciousness and how buried its ABV is) I could see one enjoying the flavours surface and come into focus it comes to temp.


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Photo of cjgiant
4.22/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated 8/2019:
Coming out of the bottle, the beer is a medium brown, and looks pretty clear. In the glass, it is a a much deeper brown, though still distinguishable from black. A beige head hits a decent height with a fairly aggressive pour, and that head leaves a curtain of lace as I just let it sit and settle. A thick circle surrounds a large island and continues the lacing for the rest of the glass.

The aromas fit the morning time, with the coffee being the leader. There's a little bit of vanilla and just a hint of chocolate coming from a heavily toasted (but not burnt) bread. The bourbon sneaks into the nose after I've taken a handful of sips.

At first taste, I am a little surprised to find the beer a little lighter than expected. The carbonation is light, and the flavors are fairly bold, giving a certain richness. And while the beer isn't too sweet, it also isn't that dry. Yet the beer does not seem to weigh on my palate. My best guess is that the bite from the alcohol is aiding in giving this lighter impression to me.

The opening note does have a bit more of dark toast with a little bit of wooden bitterness helping with that brown ale characteristic. The coffee doesn't power through things like I felt it did in Sumatra Mountain Brown. It's definitely there, but it's sharing so nicely with the vanilla, oak, and very light bourbon spice that they seem to lessen each other's influence enough to let the toasted malt come through.

Somehow, this worked better as a brown ale than the original for me. It's still far from traditional and likely belongs in a different category, but overall I did enjoy drinking this brew.

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Photo of jzlyo
3.94/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Aroma is malts, sweet caramel and mild bourbon. The flavor is coffee, malts/slightly nutty, chocolate and a medium sweet/caramel/a hint of sour finish.

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Photo of McHenry
4.71/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of BEERchitect
4.25/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Every fan of Founders Brewing knew that their Sumatra Mountain Brown had it in them. That is a bourbon barrel treatment. Under the careful watch of the brewers, this imperial coffee brown ale sees its full potential.

Dark brown in its pour, the faintly hazed brown ale crowns with a slight tarnish froth. Above it all swirls a sultry scent of coffee, bourbon, caramel, chocolate, caramel and candied nuttiness to draw the senses closer and closer. Honey flavors laced with bourbon creep onto the early palate with the strong overtones of chocolate, toffee, caramel, coconut and vanilla having a soothing, creamy effect.

As the strong malt sweetness wraps around the tongue, the caramel, toffee and chocolate are careful not to dwarf the coffee additions which brings its own earthy and soilish roast to the middle palate. Nutty with toasted pecan, the additional taste of bread crust, toasted coconut and semisweet chocolate bring a softness to the late palate while the ale tries to offer a broad and woodsy bitter balance.

Full bodied from the sweetness of whisky and caramel malts, the beer has a surprising lightness that offers a unique drinkability. But with a linger of sweet and spicy bourbon, the nuances of coconut, vanilla and oak extends into a coffee fueled aftertaste of Irish coffee done right.

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Photo of avalon07
4.29/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

L: Poured from a growler to a pint glass. Had a medium brown color and a thick, opaque consistency. There was a half inch of foamy, off white, somewhat long-lasting head. Excellent lacing.

S: A big aroma of malt, coffee, wood, booze, chocolate, caramel, and vanilla.

T: Tasted of good amount of malt (present throughout), a decent bit of whiskey (and its accompanying oak barrel), some chocolate notes (always welcome), a good shot of coffee, a hint of caramel, and a tinge of vanilla for good measure. Like the aroma, the flavor is big and bracing. The barrel aging gives it a nice edge. Quite tasty.

F: A fair amount of carbonation with a warm, smooth finish. Full-bodied.

O: A well done heavyweight beer. Drinkable.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.85/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle, 2019 edition, single bottle $3.59
Odell Snifter

Light brown forms into a black body with brown edging. The head is grey-whitish standing at about a finger, that recedes to a thin wispy ring with lace left on top.

Aromas of dark coffee, caramel, bourbon barrel, toffee, and peppers.

Flavor is sweet caramel oak, slight vanilla spice, and then a ton of peppery acidic coffee, a la regular Sumatra. Maybe I just don't like Sumatra coffee at all. Super peppery, super bitter, even though it has this almost cloying caramel bourbon element underneath it. The finish is okay with whiskey and oak and elements of toffee, but the coffee bitterness still remains clinging to the palate.

Feel is medium bodied, semi-creamy, moderately carbonated, medium alcohol presence with the warmth that accompanies it; charred roasty finish with lingering acidity, palate cling, and whiskey burn.

Overall, I figured this would be the saving grace for the Sumatra line for me. I just am not a fan of these Sumatra coffee beans, or at least what Founders does with them. Too bitter to be enjoyable.

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Photo of mrcraft
4.25/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of akk14
4/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of MNBeer1017
4.21/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.84/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Appearance - The beer leaned more black than brown in color with a tan head.

Smell - The beer was very oaky for a brown, which was delightful.

Taste - At first, all I could think about was dark chocolate. Not far behind, were notes of dark roast coffee, sweet bourbon, and light oak and vanilla notes. Despite all that was going on, the base pier was allowed to shine.

Mouthfeel - It was easy to tell, that this was a brown. It was not overly thick like a stout. It was the perfect template for the adjuncts.

Overall - Founders hit an absolute homerun with this one.

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Photo of Bunuelian
4.57/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.47/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Imperial Brown Ale brewed with Sumatra coffee aged in Bourbon barrels. Poured from a bottle into a Bruery tulip. The pour is dark brown, clear, and sports a one-finger head of tan foam with good retention. The nose is awesome. I get lots of toffee and milk chocolate along with some freshly brewed coffee and toasted oak.​

Medium-full body with a rich flavor and a creamy feel. Up front I get toffee, fresh bread, cocoa, and some vanilla. At mid-palate the coffee starts to show up. It's rich coffee, not bitter or harsh. It melds with the vanilla and cocoa and its bitterness is immediately tempered. At the finish I get some toasted oak and a little cola. Very easy to drink. No trace of that 11.9% abv.​

Wow. Just ... wow. An absolutely delicious beer. I have a feeling some BAs will pan this beer because it is so available and easy to get. Don't fall for that. These are some of the same people who probably turn up their nose at a classic Beligan quad. Is this one of those over-the-top intensely-flavored liqueur-like concoctions? No, but it is drinkable and delicious. That should always be enough.​

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Underground Mountain Brown from Founders Brewing Company
Beer rating: 96 out of 100 with 263 ratings