The opportunity to toss 6 random bottles into an empty cardboard carrier has become a mainstay at most respectable package and grocery stores. It’s a great way to sample new beers without assuming the risk of investing in a full sixer of the same beer.
I often find myself theming these mixed 6 packs by style to compare how different breweries tackle the same idea. It’s a great study in beer making to see the diverse options for crafting white IPAs, for example. But another worthwhile experiment is to sample 6 beers from the same brewery. This exercise allows you to judge quality and originality, or discern similarities throughout a line.
Grand Rapids Michigan’s Founders Brewing Co. provides an excellent case study to compare and contrast a brewery’s strengths.
Under normal circumstances, any respectable list of Founders beer must include KBS, the highly sought-after coffee chocolate stout aged in oak bourbon barrels. However, this list focuses on much easier to get year-round or upcoming seasonal selections to make your trip to the package store a little less stressful.
All Day IPA – The trend of brewing session IPAs was popularized in large part by Founders’ foray into the style. Clocking in at a respectably low 4.7% alcohol by volume ratio, what this beer lacks in booze it more than compensates for in taste. It’s clean, refreshing and you can safely imbibe more than one in a sitting. The year-round availability means it’s perfect for tailgating no matter what your favorite sport may be.
Related Post: Session Ales and Why You Need to be Drinking Them
Double Trouble – Founders turns a 180 from All Day with this brew, a double IPA available July through September with a rating of 9.4% ABV. It’s intensely hop forward with strong orange and grapefruit notes followed by a sweet malt backbone and tinges of sticky, resinous pine that complement the warming alcohol on the finish. Be sure to savor it as it warms, as the beer’s complexity turns the drink into a slow sipper.
Breakfast Stout – Following hot on the heels of Double Trouble is the October release of Breakfast Stout. Recently, the beer’s label art has been redesigned as some states have a problem with the image of a baby being used for the branding of an adult beverage. The new empty highchair motif thankfully encases the same great tasting chocolate and coffee imperial oatmeal stout that makes beer snobs gush.
Dirty Bastard – A complex Scotch Ale, Dirty Bastard is a kilt-lifter of flavor, with peaty, smoky elements that provide an engrossing drinking experience. On the higher ABV-end at 8.5 %, these are meant for savoring despite the inclination to gulp. The limited bourbon barrel-aged variant Backwoods Bastard is a must-buy every November.
Centennial IPA – Dry-hopping of the beer’s namesake hop means you can expect a big floral and citrus aroma. This is a quality “anytime” IPA thanks to the excellent balance and year-round availability. It may not be the sexiest beer in the Founders lineup, but it’s among the most consistent and high quality India Pale Ales on the market.
Harvest Ale – October sees the release of dozens of wet-hopped beers onto the market. Founders’ entry in this classification is Harvest Ale. Fresh from being collected, whole cone hops are thrown right into the boil. The end product is a fresh, aromatic hop explosion perfect for anyone who considers him or herself a connoisseur of expert brewing techniques.
In all honesty, you could pick any six of Founders’ beers and have a delicious line-up. The great thing about this specific comparison set is that you’re able to get a high-level overview of Founders’ commitment to producing a wide-ranging, diverse stable of beers that will easily find a way into your regular rotation.