If anything surprised me about Curmudgeon’s Better Half, it was the color. For some reason I thought it was going to be like a stout, so I thought it would’ve been more in-line with a darker, malty beer. I didn’t expect the amber color, but it had a good froth despite a low carbonation and otherwise looked great.
Everything else – as I’ve come to expect from Founder’s – was great. It’s got a 94 on Beer Advocate, where it should be.
This beer is an altered version of Founder’s regular Curmudgeon ale, brewed with molasses and then aged in bourbon barrels soaked with maple syrup. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds and a brilliant aging idea. I don’t know why other breweries haven’t tried it.
The smell on the immediate pour was that of bourbon, but toned down just a bit. You can definitely smell it, but it doesn’t knock your socks off like other bourbon-aged beers. This one is obviously made to balance everything out. Aside from that, you get a sweetness at the end and not a hell of a lot else. This isn’t a bad thing. I don’t know what the IBU level is for this beer, but the regular Curmudgeon runs at 50 IBU. There’s no strong malt or hop smell, which is OK by me. Everything is very smooth.
The same can be said for the taste, which is pretty great. What really got me was how bourbon would show up, fade away and come back, although not solely based on how long I let the beer sit and warm up. The first few sips were definitely filled with a bourbon flavor, but that quickly faded to allow for all the sweetness of the molasses and syrup to come through. The sweet of the beer isn’t by any means in a “sugary” kind of way, but stays on your tongue after you’ve taken a sip. There’s a wonderful kind of buttery style to the way it tastes between the sweetness and the balance of the bourbon. It reminded me slightly of Fullsteam’s Igor in the way that the beer had this great balance of bourbon into a caramel-like sweetness. Not only do you forget it’s a bourbon-aged beer at times, but you can easily forget it’s 12 percent ABV.