Founders Beers have landed on our shores of late courtesy of GrandCru Beers. Hurrah! And with Bradleys doing a sweet 4 for €10 deal, this post was inevitable, wasn't it?
First up is the sessionable all day IPA, All Day IPA. For the approachable but cautious 4.7% ABV, there's a bloody good nose on this. It's sharp and zesty with notes of lemongrass, pine and even copper in a nice way. This very much follows suit on the palate with those bitter hop characteristics delivered efficiently via citrus peel and pine needle, with just a hint of caramel underneath. It finishes clean too, with none of the sticky toffee flavours of a higher alcohol IPA. There's proper bang for your buck in this, a beer that punches well above its weight in the hop stakes, even if it isn't the most complex or layered experience.
Founders Pale Ale is the next step up in the range, favouring a soft and seriously juicy grapefruit aroma over the sharp bitterness of the previous one. Not to say that it hasn't got it's own hoppiness, but in a rounder, oilier sort of way, and with more sweetness seeping through. This balance works wonders for drinkability; fruity, herbal and oily hops folded around a biscuit malt backbone making it every bit as quaffable as the previous beer. Bags of delicious flavour and very drinkable, but not better than what we get closer to home anyway.
A good jump up the scale brings us to the Centennial IPA of 7.2% and the pinnacle of the pales on offer. From its dark amber complexion it's easy to see that we're dealing with a bigger beer here, and the punch of hops to the nose only confirms this. This time around there are plenty of nice honey and brown sugar malts underpinning the marmalade, pine resin and orange pith notes that are to the fore. Syrupy toffee is pretty forceful on the taste, but not enough to eradicate the tickly bitterness of the hops trailing behind. Beautiful, pungent and bittersweet, this almost approaches a barleywine in its boldness. Four more of these might just be had.
Finally a change of pace is had with Founders Porter. Dark, Rich and Sexy is what we're promised, and by god is that what we get. Smoky, roasty goodness on the nose? Check. Sweet chocolate and light coffee bitterness on the palate? Check. "What's so special?", you ask? This beer is incredibly creamy. Thanks to the insane body those sweet chocolate notes become thick and luxurious chocolate mousse, while the smoky, coffee roastiness keeps things very drinkable indeed. When I try to visualise my perfect porter or stout, it may not taste quite like this, but it would need to have this exact texture. Full, wholesome and ridiculously tasty, this is really brilliant stuff.
Well there you have it. I love Founders now.