Founders Brewing – Curmudgeon’s Better Half (a/k/a the Curmudgeon’s Haybag)

Next up, Curmudgeon’s Better Half from Founders Brewing Co.:

The label is a bit troubling. The Curmudgeon looks broken, with a resigned 100-yard stare that reveals he gave up about 20 years ago and just wants to eat his fucking flapjacks in peace. The only reason he is actually looking up is that his overbearing “better half” is holding his syrup hostage, and he has lost the will to call her bluff. His better half’s forced smile barely masks her underlying resentment built-up from wasting the best years of her life cooking and cleaning for this ungrateful bastard. And the ship in the distant background is clearly a metaphor for their long-since departed youth, hopes, and dreams becoming ever more distant. Depressing really.

Curmudgeon’s Better Half is Old Curmudgeon Ale (an old ale brewed with molasses and aged on oak) which is further aged for 254 days in bourbon barrels that have been used to age Michigan maple syrup. It’s from Founder’s Backstage Series, a limited release of some of Founders’ rare beers, previously only available at the brewery taproom or at select events. This thing set me back a Jackson, so it better be good, dammit.

It pours a reddish mahogany. The tan head recedes quickly to leave a thin layer. It smells as one would expect: malt, oak, whiskey, vanilla, and a hint of some dark-ass maple syrup.

Maple syrup: Canada's second sweetest export.

But unlike Biebs, it doesn’t smell like it’s going to be all sweet and sticky. Note: I’ve never smelled Justin Bieber, but I am assuming he puts off a sweet, cloying Kavorka.

The taste leads with toasted malt, followed by slightly burnt brown sugar and some maple syrup, then bourbon (with its accompanying oak and vanilla), and a slight hint of bananas. Lastly, It finishes with maple syrup and bourbon alternately vying for your attention.

I expected this to be a huge, sweet, hot monster. But it was medium bodied, not super sweet, and smooth. I liked it. And it was more complex than most bourbon barrel aged beers. But I was not absolutely blown away. And at $20, I probably won’t seek it out again.

The Haybag: My feelings on the use of bourbon barrels are well-documented (even with intervening maple syrup). Bourbon and beer should be in separate glasses, and this beer did not change my opinion.

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16 thoughts on “Founders Brewing – Curmudgeon’s Better Half (a/k/a the Curmudgeon’s Haybag)

  1. Minus 10 pts on your man-card for adding “Biebs” to your post. Minus 25 pts on your man-card for referring to him with the nickname “Biebs”.

    Plus 10 pts for the breakdown of the label. That was funny.

  2. I was really interested in getting this one, but I had no shot at it from Ricks. Where did you get it that you paid that much for it? Would you say it was worth the money? I got the Canadian Breakfast, which I thought was worth the money I spent, but I don’t know I would have shelled out that much for it either.

    • I got it from Rick’s. I just happened to look at FB during lunch and saw the notice. I let another guy in my office know about it, and he called in about 15 minutes later and they were out. I think it actually came out to be about $18-20. It was a good beer. Ultimately, though, I don’t think it was worth the money. You gotta knock my socks off for that price. That being said, if I saw someone’s positive review of a beer that concluded it wasn’t quite worth the $20 pricetag, I might still shell-out the coin for it just out of curiosity and the inability to resist the weak part of the brain that MUST HAVE all things rare.

  3. This was on tap at one of my favorite beer bars a couple weeks ago, but I couldn’t make it. I’d love to give it a shot though… sounds like it’d be more up my alley than something like CBS…

    • I have heard, anecdotally, that it is a little sweeter on tap…I don’t know if that is possible. Maybe that was just past batches of Kaiser Curmudgeon. I would try it on tap…probably a little less of a monetary commitment (and stalking commitment) than buying a bomber.

  4. If you ever destroy your taste buds drinking all this bourbon infused beer, you can continue to do label reviews. That was funny. I really felt for the Curmudgeon character. He does look broken. As if he was Captain of the ship in the background, but the crew mutinied. Leaving him stranded on the island with only a plate of pancakes and a vile woman with whom they’ve intrusted the maple syrup, I get the sense that the cutlery he’s holding may not end up in the pancakes.

    I agree $20 is a lot and it’s so hard for a beer to wow me that much at the price range. Not when there are some many 5-10$ beers out their I haven’t tried yet.

    • I think you are on to something with the cutlery. If you look at the death grip he’s got on that knife and fork, there is clearly some serious rage being pent up.

    • Clearly the label. 🙂

      I can’t review any beer until I can think of at least one thing funny (or at least that I think is funny) to write about it. Then as I start writing other stuff comes to mind. Much of my commute is spent contemplating beer humor…more than should be probably.

  5. Holy shit, Bieber! The 6-year-old is obsessed with that little geek. I hear he actually has some hygiene problems, but you know how the Internet is. Thanks for introducing me to the word “Kavorka.” I agree…bourbon and beer deserve to be drunk individually. It’s a better way to get drunk.

    • I would have thought a liquorstore bear would already know about the “lure of the animal”. Although you don’t look Latvian, so maybe just the term is unfamiliar.

      Damn Bieber. I still have the 3 1/2 year old still listening to Ryan Adams, White Stripes, Black Keys, and even some Stooges. But I know I only have 1-2 years left before she is inevitably lost to the likes of Bieber and his ilk, and I can only hope that my early influence will expedite her return…probably not.

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