Beer Review: Founders Old Curmudgeon Ale

March 20, 2010

Founders Old Curmudgeon AleI love doing a beer review when I have no frame of reference for the beer.  I got this beer as part of a silent auction package I won last year, and it’s been sitting in my closet ever since.  I had heard of Founders Brewing Company before, as well as their Old Curmudgeon Ale, but hadn’t tried any of their products.  I hadn’t read about this beer either, so I was completely without expectation or preconceived notion when I first cracked this open.

About the Brewery (from foundersbrewing.com):
The initial inception of Founders Brewing Company took place in 1990. In a run-down college rental house located in Holland Michigan, Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers were trying to figure out what to do upon graduation and leaving the security of college life. They had the brilliant idea of opening a brewery. A pipe dream at the time. After graduating, both found themselves in the workforce, Mike for his father’s video production company and Dave as an elementary school teacher. Both still had a passion for great beer and had begun home brewing as a hobby. Feeling unfulfilled with their current work situations, Mike and Dave decided to live their lives with no regrets and chase their dream. They set off to start their brewery. Unfortunately, neither one had ever taken a business class. They wrote a business plan and set out to find a location.

The Pour
This beer pours quite thick, thick enough to make you take a second look.  It pours more like a maple syrup than a beer.  A good vigorous pour of the second half of the bottle into the pint glass barely produces any head, and what it does produce is a thin, small bubble head that leaves minimal lacing and dissipates quickly.  The beer itself is very hazy and a nice orange tinted semi-dark caramel color.

The Nose
There are obvious caramel, maple syrup and brown sugar notes (the Founders Web site refers to molasses). There are also some hints of oak and a slightly hoppy, crisp edge to the nose.  You can smell that it has a higher ABV and it smells like it will be a good heavy beer.

The Taste
This is one thick, full-bodied, heavy beer. Oak, molasses and caramel notes mingle with hints of smoke, but with a floral hoppiness to balance it all out and to cleanse the palate.  It is this hoppy undertone, that also lingers on the finish, that keeps this from being a cloying, syrupy beer.  The higher ABV is noticeable not just on the finish, where warm vapors fill your mouth as you swallow, but also on the palate.  The alcohol gives it a character akin to a smooth, lower alcohol whiskey.  As the beer warms, the finish becomes a oaky, smoky and hoppy experience, and very subtle sour cherry notes make an occasional cameo.

Overall, I enjoyed this beer, but the whole time I drank it, I was conscious of how grateful I was to the brewers for hopping it up enough to keep it from being syrupy.  I guess I would have to say this is a tasty and interesting beer.  It has interesting depth of character, but none of the flavors are unexpected at all.

Yes.  This is a solid, well crafted ale, with good flavor and body.  Watch that ABV though…it will sneak up on you!

Price: Not sure…was part of an auction package

ABV: 9.8%


  1. I’m trying to get this beer to try myself. I’m finding that Founders just does everything right with beer! One of my favorite breweries.

    • This is the first of theirs I’ve tried

  2. Actually, it’s not “Old Curmudgeon Ale,” it’s “Curmudgeon Old Ale.” That’s the style of beer it is: an “old ale.”

    “Old Ales, also referred to in the past as “Stock” Ales, are low attenuated beers with high levels of dextrins, creating a full malt body with plenty of character. Old Ales of a hundred plus years ago were often transfered into vats to mature, hence the name.” — BeerAdvocate.com

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