Founders Brewing Co.’s “Porter”

September 3, 2013

Some brewers just seem to get it right every time, every batch. Their vision and skill are such that their beer is pretty close to perfect. Like being born into royalty, enjoying a life of privilege, such it is to be a beer from Founders.

This Grand Rapids, Michigan brewery is one of the few craft beer creators consistently ranked in the top ten in the United States. Along with Cigar City Hunapu and Three Floyds Dark Lord, their Kentucky Breakfast Stout is, arguably, one of the 5 most anticipated single-day, brewery-sold-only releases on the planet. Folks line up the day before like they were camping out for Rolling Stones tickets… all for the glory of procuring two bottles of Bourbon barrel-aged nectar. That, my friends, is a good beer.

How is it these guys get it? What separates Founders’ brewers from any other on the planet? How can they take the same ingredients available to everyone else and manage to coax liquid magic out of them? Short answer: I don’t know. Why was there only one Michelangelo, one John Coltrane… heck, only one Kurt Vonnegut? Speaking of, it was Vonnegut who posited sarcastically, of course, that those humans who had gifts of artistic and higher scientific excellence did so because they had radio receivers in their brains that picked up instructions from far more advanced aliens. Perhaps this explains the success Founders enjoys?

Whatever it is they’re doing, I suggest to keep doing it. They managed to convince me to drink a rich, dark porter while it’s nasty hot outside. I should be leaning towards their All Day IPA right now; massive hop tanginess crafted with a low, sessionable alcohol by volume of 4.7%. Yes, that should do just fine. Maybe even their highly-rated, award-winning Centennial IPA – a study in the balance between hops and malt – is what I should have in my glass at this time.

Instead, I keep going back to that extremely flavorful porter of theirs. One thing I’ve always enjoyed about porter beer as a style is that I can find those dark, extracted flavors without the heaviness of a stout or a dopplebock. Great porter, to me, almost always has a rather thin texture and mouth feel; kind of like iced coffee with no cream, but better. All flavor, no heaviness.

Along with looking like a 16 oz glass of espresso, Founders Porter possesses many coffee-like qualities. Darkest of dark brown, it sports a beige head that leaves behind nice sticky lacing. The mocha scents of coffee and chocolate erupt with notes of dark fruit, vanilla and toast. Flavors follow the nose, only more intensely; dark chocolate bordering on the bitter, vanilla bean, dark roast coffee and faint earthy, leafy hops.
Dangerously drinkable, we have here a world-class beverage.