For centuries theologians and philosophers have debated how many angels you fit on the head of a needle … but I’m thinking the debate should be whether archangels are big beer drinkers?
Do you or I care? Well, I’m guessing the folks at Founders Brewing Company do … at least based on the Raphael’esque label on the front of this beer which has two angels holding up the letters T*E*N in the middle of “cenTENnial.” Not sure if we should be reading something into this … perhaps we should conduct some cabalistic reading of the Decalogue to determine whether there is any hidden recipe to be revealed for brewing beer.
Seriously, my humour isn’t intended to offend anyone – on the contrary, I can’t for the life of me figure out why this iconography adorns the front of any beer label or where they’re going with this.
With the respect to the dry-hopped, unfiltered deep amber contents of the bottle, well, I know where to go with that. Given my recent trashing of another popular American IPA (see Southern Tier), I thought I’d head south of the border again and see if we could turn this ship around. I’m happy to report, this is a much better entry ….
I’ll be honest from the get-go, though, and say this beer isn’t balanced. It doesn’t have the lovely balance of other beers I’ve reviewed including my most recent review of BIA which I love. This beer from Founders is for hop-heads. Pure and simple. At 65 IBUs and 7.2%, this is a big, bitter brew.
My first taste felt more like an assault on my taste buds. I thought, “Damn, another failed tasting.” All I could taste was the dry-hops followed in the middle by some curious malt tones in the (which I’ll come back to) before being swallowed up by the bitter ending. With all those bitters and very little in the way of malt (read: sugars) I’d be expecting that tell-tale “papery” astringency at the end which would confirm this to be crap … but as much as I kept thinking it should be there, it never reared its head — which leads to reflection and questions: is this actually a good or even a great beer?
The colour is perfect; the head and lacing are excellent with just the right amount of carbonation to deliver the flavour and wake up the tongue but not too much to confuse things. And the bitters are intense, but I’m drinking a dry-hopped IPA (with angels on the bottle) so it should be intense, shouldn’t it? So truthfully, it’s hard to argue that everything is working in this beer, including those malts. Yes, let’s come back to those malts and the unusual flavour profile of this beer which also hangs in the aroma: grapefruit and chocolate. To be more precise, I’d say Cadbury Caramilk (yes, I’ve a whacky palette — I have to live with it; so do you now): chocolate, caramel, and creamy (big diacetyls).
This not a beer for the faint of heart, but if you like really hopped up IPAs that verge on being ‘unbalanced’ then this is one you will definitely want to try. My only recommendation – take it out of the fridge 15 minutes before drinking it at closer 6-8°C and you’ll have angels singing you bitter songs 10 out of 10.
Stats: IPA. 7.2% ABV. 65 IBUs. Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Colour: Dark amber.
Mouth Feel: medium carbonation with lots of butters and plenty of bitters.
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