Founders Bolt Cutter | Founders Brewing Company

BA SCORE
90
outstanding
235 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
Founders Bolt CutterFounders Bolt Cutter
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
foundersbrewing.com

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 15.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bolt Cutter is a cellarable barley wine with an ABV of 15%. Dry-hopped with a mountain of Cascade hops, it’s balanced by a malty sweetness and spicy complexity, resulting from barrel aging some of it in bourbon barrels, some in maple syrup-bourbon barrels and some not at all (standard fermentation only). We’ve allowed the beer to mature in bottles and kegs since July so that it would be perfect for its release next month. Bolt Cutter pours a deep copper color and is best sampled at different temperatures to allow the flavors to unfold.

Added by Thickfreakness on 11-03-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

BEER STATS
Reviews:
235
Ratings:
1,333
Avg:
4.01
pDev:
12.22%
 
 
Wants:
213
Gots:
687
For Trade:
68
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 235 | Ratings: 1,333
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I hope this beer kicks it up a bit after warming. As it is right now, it's somewhat one-dimensional. It's nice and smooth with good malty tones. Bit of an alcohol burn on things. Overall, it's pretty nice. Too bad I don't have another to lay down to see how it ages. Regardless, happy anniversary Founders. Here's to the next 15 years.

(And it is opening up nicely, just so ya know.)

 384 characters

Photo of tdm168
4.38/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to jtd1969 for sharing this bottle.

A - murky orange with a big, off white head that has great retention

S - huge bready aroma with some sugary notes

T - bready, burnt sugar, caramel, sticky, alcohol, mild bitter finish

M - full bodied, warm, well carbonated

This in my opinion is a fantastic beer. The 15% is only slightly noticeable. The malt is big, sticky, and flavorful. The burnt sugar notes were fantastic throughout. This is one of the better beers that I have had recently. I definitely this is a beer that people should be checking out.

 558 characters

Photo of smakawhat
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass.

Pours out of the bottle like golden caramel, hits and makes a simple one finger head, very creamy and thick, perhaps off tan in color, a very light beige. Body color is a real nice peach orange and hints of red, with very slow rising carbonation coming up, and crystal clear. The beer is really good looking.

Nose is a bit simple and strange all at once. A fascinating mix of over-ripe melon, slightly acidic and sour, with a hint of caramel like sweetness malt in the background. Not bad but and odd sense, some sour and light vinegar comes out a bit.

Palate hits with a big rush. Thick caramel malt matching the nose of this strange large melon character. Quite large, but also sort of odd in a way. The body has a little tongue playful carbonation up front, but is quickly subdued by the malt thickness. Sweetness comes out a little bit more with warmth.

Overall it's fairly interesting and fun, but not the greatest tasting barleywine I've had and it's over ripe sour fruit angle is sort of bizarre. Luckily drinks well at such a high abv, but I wouldn't pay a lot of money for this.

 1,136 characters

Photo of MasterSki
4.17/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by someone at Zwanze Day. Chris I think? Served in a Zwanze glass.

A - Light off-white foam settles to wisps, a thin collar, and minimal lace. Mostly transparent amber body.

S - Maple, caramel, light vanilla, a hint of bourbon, brown sugar, some nutty notes. There's perhaps a touch of alcohol as this warms up. For an 'American' barleywine there's fairly low hop presence; there's perhaps a bit of pine mingling with the booze.

T - The taste is similar, with notes of rum cake, caramel, maple, honey-drizzled bread, and bit of oaky vanilla. Not a ton of bourbon flavor here; just nice sweet barleywine flavors that manage to avoid getting overly cloying thanks to a low but sufficient amount of hop bitterness. Alcohol is better hidden as well.

M - Some definite alcohol heat at this stage, but nothing overwhelming for 15%. Smooth texture, medium-full body, lower carbonation, and a mildly tannic finish. Perhaps a bit undersized for 15%, but still fairly big.

D - I was skeptical this would be good, but I ended up really enjoying this beer; enough so that I went out and bought a bottle. I suspect it will be excellent in 6-12 months, but it's enjoyable in small quantities right out of the gate. Congrats to Founders on 15 years!

 1,253 characters

Photo of drabmuh
4.07/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Churchkey DC's Founders Anniversary party with a few other founders offerings. Served in a snifter. 10 ounce pour. Beer is clear and orange-ish with a soft white head with low retention, no lacing and low carbonation. Looks fine.

Aroma is nice. Bourbon, sweet, malt. Aggressive. A little heat as well.

Beer is dry on the finish, light on the body but maintains the sweetness upfront. The bourbon and oak are lost in the palate, maybe the ABV is thinning the beer too much. Overall it is a good beer but from Founders I was expecting an amazing barrel aged experience. One of the poorer showings from their BA beers honestly. I might have it again.

 661 characters

Photo of Gobzilla
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: poured a pale amber brown in color with pale yellow highlights and a thin head that left very little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: lots of malty sweetness upfront in the aroma with grassy earthy notes, booze heat, plenty of hop character and mild caramel but with slight brown sugar presence.

T: caramel sweetness was more noticeable on the palate with a good hoppy profile that was accompanied by grassy earthiness, plenty of bready malts, the booze was all up in your grill with a touch of underlying brown sugar.

M: the brew was medium in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a sweet, malty, hoppy, boozy and crisp finish.

O: I honestly was a little let down from all the hype but then again it's just hype after all. It can be that I've had some AMAZING barelywines lately too. I was just decent and nothing more

 843 characters

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.43/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured in to CBS Snifter.

A - Dark amber; slightly translucent. Half a finger of tan coloured head.

S - A big sweetness up front with caramel and toffee aromas coming through. Some citrus and a bitter hop presence also come through. No oak is detectable in the nose.

T - Big sweetness from the malt base up front that adds caramel, toffee and brown sugar flavours is balanced out by a massive hop bitterness and a touch of citrus. A warming alcohol presence also helps to balance out the massive sweetness. The oak is present but is very much secondary in this beer. Although a warming alcohol presence is noticeable, the alcohol is very well hidden overall considering the 15% ABV.

M - Full body; thick and chewy. Light carbonation. Full of sticky hop oils.

 763 characters

Photo of liamt07
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Founders 15th Anniversary Party, into a snifter.

Redder brown, with a very small offwhite head that only leaves some whisps of retention. Nose of bourbon, maple, sweet caramel and malts. Some peripheral citrus, alcohol and cotton candy even perhaps. Taste has some maple, bourbon, white raisin, alcohol, sticky caramel and bitter citrus. Alcohol is well hidden but not completely disguised. A tasty American Barleywine, but not mind-blowingly awesome.

 466 characters

Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.56/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at MacGregor's Grill and Tap Room in Henrietta, NY.

Pours a hazy dark orange, with no head or lacing at all.

Aromas include bourbon, brown sugar, citrus, and molasses.

The taste is similar. The flavors are weirdly muted all around. There's a little bit of maple syrup flavor, with more brown sugar, honey, and molasses, and a medium to high bourbon presence. Still boozy at this point.

Medium bodied, a little thin for a BA barleywine. Sticky mouthfeel.

A bit of a disappointment, really. I've had much better BA beers from Founders.

 545 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.34/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a reddish amber color with decent clarity on the first pour. Subsequent pours add some yeasty sediment, as this sample has spent much of its life cellared or in the fridge. The aroma is sweet, sugary, and malty. It hides the booze well, but there is some bourbon and clean alcohol to the nose as well.

The flavor has layers of sweetness, going from brown sugar, to molasses, and finally maple. I did not initially know this was a maple bourbon barrel aged beer but as I drank it, the characteristics became obvious. The beer has mellowed a bit with age I am sure, it drank like 10-11% ABV beer, not 15% + ABV beer. Nice sweet flavors and a modest alcohol bite.

Overall, this is a nice beer and one that may not have even peaked yet. Founders has at times retired beers only to produce them years down the line. I will hold out hope for this one.

 863 characters

Photo of BARFLYB
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Capone's in SEPA.

Bolt Cutter comes in a goblet with a small trim of off white bubbles up top leaving a skim of foam for a bit before fading off, no lace but some swirls bring it back. The body is a deep amber golden color that is on the bright side, not much activity after a bit.

Smell is big on caramel and toffee with some toasted malt characteristic. Bourbon and maple in the scent. Sweet and alcoholic, I can sniff it from the glass cold and warm. Not a distraction. Not well integrated yet, I can see this blooming later on becoming a sweeter scent as a nice hop presence is noted.

For 15% this can be a lot hotter than it is, the alcohol is masked but not fully so it seeps out in the taste all over. The hops come forefront bringing out some sharp pine, with a mix of bourbon and slight maple tones leading to some more sweet caramel. English in nature that will mature when the hops drop.

Body is above medium with a harshness from the hops and alcohol mix, that is not all that scorching. A hoppy barleywine now, that probably will tone down with time. Carbonation is muted but there and keeping the beer from being dead.

A pretty good barleywine that has both English and American characteristics with the Founders touch. If I find a bottle I'll see where it takes me. Right now, I could not see drinking more than 8oz's though as it's ripe.

 1,369 characters

Photo of dar482
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The beer comes in an amber, deep dark orange color with a thin head.

The aroma has tons of pine and citrus, a bit of sweet caramel and toffee notes. Tons of hops, with a tinge of barrel in there.

The flavor follows with just massive hops. There's grapefruit, mostly pine and resin, some floral, and then there's lots of brown sugar, caramel, molasses. On the end, there's again a punch of spice from the hops along with pine and offensive bitter notes.

The body is surprisingly light at a medium instead of a big sticky sweet barleywine. At 15%, this is really hides the alcohol.

It's great to have tried this at a tap takeover. I wouldn't pay the huge price for the bottle. It's a very good beer, but still a bit offensive on the bitterness without enough sweetness on the back.

 783 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.49/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a short lived off white head even with a fairly aggressive pour... the brew is clear dark orange... only random dots of lacing... I keep looking for legs in the glass.

The nose is nostril coating malty with thick vanilla and maple essence... the bourbon is more than present and the malty sweetness is only balanced by a decent piney hoppiness.

Flavor mirrors the aroma and shows brown sugar and something that I associate with candied pecans... bitterness is thankfully still fairly present after all this time so is a piney/grapefruit zest hoppiness... could use more hops though.

Medium/big bodied with a light carbonation that only accentuates the thickness on the palate... pretty damn hot even after at least 10 months in the bottle.

A bit of a mess at this point, but a bit more refined than when it was first released... I have a couple more but would like to get some to put away for the long haul... I think this one is going to be muddy for quite a while and then emerge a better beer.

3.25/3.5/3.5/3.5/3.5

 1,033 characters

Photo of tobelerone
4.34/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I'm revisiting this beer 2.5 years after originally rating it a solid 4. The time in the cellar has rendered this a masterpiece - everything is in perfect balance now, the hops are toned down but there is still a faint bitterness in the finish counterbalancing the massive notes of toffee and brown sugar. Secondary components of oak and whiskey deepen the experience.

I'm a barleywine fanatic and have had many of the world's best at this point. Properly cellared Bolt Cutter is up there near the top of the food chain now. Maybe not that god tier echelon, but close. Wish I had more of these and hadn't drank or traded the half dozen or so I had so early in the game.

 670 characters

Photo of rudzud
2.88/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2012 vintage split with JLindros.

A - Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a crystal clear honey hue with a big one finger head that faded to leave suds.

S - Aromas of sweet malts, bourbon, cardboard, lots of booze.

T - Taste is sticky sweet caramel, cardboard, alcohol is hidden but loads of cloy sugar.

M - Mouthfeel is sticky sweet, cloy, messy.

O - Overall this beer was a complete and utter mess, awful.

Serving type: bottle

 436 characters

Photo of clayrock81
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish body with large head that goes away real quick and leaves a little bit of lace. Aroma is boozy at first and then there are sweet malts like caramel/toffee/sugar that hit me with minimal hops. Sticky, full-bodied, the booze is prevalent with a little bit of woodiness to help it smoothly finish. There are some dark fruit flavors and a sugary, vanilla like boozy sweetness but the alcohol in this is just a little too much and overpowers the other characteristics of the beer.

 491 characters

Photo of jbaker67
4.04/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy dark golden orange with a small white head. Aroma brings out piney hops, caramel and toffee. Flavor brings out loads , toffee, and caramel malts. The hops are still prominent after a year, with a big caramel and toffee forefront. The 15% alcohol is amazingly well worked in, without destroying the complexity - the alcohol is definitely apparent, but it’s well-situated.

 385 characters

Photo of corby112
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a slightly hazy golden amber color with tangerine hues and a two finger frothy off-wife head that quickly settles into a thick, lasting cap.  Streaks of soapy lacing left behind.  

Sweet, slightly leathery malt aroma with a complex hop profile balancing out the boozy sweetness.  Citrus/tropical notes of pineapple, tangerine and grapefruit followed by resinous pine, grass, leathery malt, caramel, toffee and biscuit.  There's a touch of alcohol in the nose but more subtle than expected.

Full chewy body with a huge blast of bitter, earthy hops that linger over the sweet and earthy/leathery malts. Dank, bitter and resinous with an earthy/grassy hop bite followed by sweet caramel malt backbone and subtle heat.  Sticky pine needle flavor along with grapefruit and orange peel sweetness countered by caramel malt and toffee toward the finish.  Really well balanced and smooth with the high abv excellently masked.  Would never have guessed that  it was 15%.  Another solid entry in the backstage series but not worth the exorbitant price.

 1,059 characters

Photo of jzeilinger
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Revised 8-18-15

A - Pours a medium to dark copper color with a nice creamy head that dies down fairly fast and leaves a thin and sticky layer and light carbonation.

S - Sweet caramel & toffee, alcohol, bourbon, and some maple syrup presence. The aroma smells syrupy, bold, thick, and the alcohol is much more subdued compared to when these were young..

T - Definitely has alcohol an presence with some heat and has mellowed some over the years. Lots of bourbon, maple, and brown sugar up front with substantial burn on the way down. After several sips the throat adjusts and the burns calms down to being almost noticeable, but still present nonetheless. Lightly spicy and after a minute or so the cascades start to surface and coats the mouth with a layer of citrus.

M - The best aspect of this beer, it's thick and full bodied which is what I would expect from something this big. Sticky, lightly syrupy, slick, viscous and velvet smooth.

O - The first several sips are intimidating because the alcohol presence is so in your face, about 1/5 in it goes away and the other nuances start to come out. There is some nice complexity but the booziness can take too much of a front seat with this beer. It's also very warm in the beginning. I have a few bottles left and they're going straight to the cellar to see how this one develops in 10-12 months.

 1,355 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.06/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Poured a golden amber color with a small tannish cap ich quickly reseds leaving a minimal lacing and minor lacing clinging to the glass.

S: Booze soaked toffee, light vanilla and honestly...that is about it sadly.

T: The flavor is boozey and sweet upfront with a load of toffee, some btterscotch, faint maple, lighter fruits with a modest Earthiness. The finish is rather hot, sweet, thin and dry yet slightly sticky.

M: Medium-bodied,hot, slightly sticky feel. This beer needed more body. Th alcohol can sometimes give the appearance of thinness and this is also my major complaint against Mother of All Storms.

O: This beer has great potential., While I think the booze sting will subside leaning toward fuller a body and mouthfeel in the future I feel this beer was just to much to soon and to young.

 813 characters

Photo of rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer pours a slightly dense but clear aged copper brown body with a bubbly light tan head that sticks to the glass and sluggishly slides back into the beer.

S- the nice sweet caramel malt aroma has some candy sugar notes that come through as the beer warms and a slight spicy character with some ether hints in the finish.

T- The smooth sweet caramel malt grows as the beer warms and takes on a brassy wheat malt flavor. The finish of pungent hops and alcohol gently round out each sip.

M- The medium mouthfeel has a thick texture in the finish that is thinned by an alcohol warmth that hangs in the mouth.

O- This is a big monster barleywine with a gentle alcohol heat for 15% ABV and I was surprised at how much hops presence was in there aswell. It was a nice beer to taste but I would have preferred it without as much alcohol. This beer was a night starter and night ender in one bottle.

 934 characters

Photo of kscaldef
2.21/5  rDev -44.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

The creation of a new style? Possibly the first quintuple IPA. Very hoppy and very strong, and little else to be said about it. Medium amber color, with no head. The body is fairly thin, which exposes the high alcohol content in a harsh and unenjoyable way. No barrel character to be found. Not actually a drinkable beer. Maybe it'll mellow with time, but I don't have high hopes.

 380 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
3.59/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Came out an amber and gold color, half inch of head, beigeish in color. Looked pretty.

Aroma was heat, a substantial amount of hops, honey, sweet.
Taste drove a shit ton of caramel, hops and booze into my gullet. Plenty sticky stuff. Motuhfeel brought out waves of bitterness as it warmed. Would like to try a less boozy version of this beer, or maybe some kind of adjunct or a greater percentage of barrel aging to give a little more depth here.

 451 characters

Photo of wordemupg
3.81/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle poured into balloon snifter 14/6/14

A clear amber liquid, a couple bubbles, thin film leaves a few polka dots, wide legs down the side

S still lots of pine and citrus, this would've been a palate wrecker fresh, faint bourbon, pancake syrup, orange peel, hard toffee, lots of booze

T more booze, heaps of brown sugar and caramel, faint wood, sweet bourbon, more citrus then the nose, a little sweet and boozy but enjoyable

M thank and syrupy, my lips are stuck together, heat hits the chest and throat, rind and brown sugar on the finish

O I liked it but I didn't love it, still hoppy, very sweet and boozy, I'm glad I didn't try to take this one down solo

Fruet was a hard act to follow and perhaps didn't help this ones cause, its good beer with a little barrel, lots of sugar and booze, one of those beers I want to try fresh and with 5+ years on it

 872 characters

Photo of Axnjxn
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750 ml capped bottle into a tulip.

pours a dark hazy Orange with a slight head. smell is huge on booze and raisins. taste is very sweet and boozy. lots of dark fruits in this one...raisins, figs. full bodied for sure. sipper. low carbonation. ABV apparent.

overall good barleywine. would have benefited from barrel aging.

 323 characters

Founders Bolt Cutter from Founders Brewing Company
4.01 out of 5 based on 1,333 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.

    Subscribe