This is the next beer in the latest batch from Mark. Founder's Harvest Ale. A Wet hopped Ale and one of their specials that only comes out once per year. Wet hopping is using fresh picked hops that have not been dried or ground up and formed in to plugs or pellets that you may see in your homebrew store. The hops have more moisture in them and are less bitter as their flavors have not been concentrated in the drying and processing that typically happens. They do tend to lend more terroir, to borrow a wine term.
It's no secret I'm a fan of many of the Founder's beers and I think they're one of the gems of the Midwest craft brewing scene. That being said I'm more a fan of their darker malty beers than their hoppy beers. It's tough to compete with the great, fresh, local stuff we get up here in Seattle. Even so I'm always excited to try one of Founder's specials as they generally tend to be...special.
The beer pours clear and foamy with a golden IPA color. The head is thick with very fine bubbles and is very dense. Almost doughy. It's dense enough to float a bottle cap on it and stays around.
It has a strong hop nose that's resiny and piney. It smells like a Christmas Tree!
It has a creamy texture with sweet carbonation up front. Then the hops hit immediately with a burst of fresh flavor. Piney, bitter, and then it's gone. Just like Santa Claus it's there, it's wonderous and magical, and then it's gone. There's no off putting lingering bitter finish that slows you down or starts to build up over time. It's slight on the front of your tongue but doesn't suck the moisture out of your mouth or continue to dominate your pallet. It sits back and just gently reminds you of what you just drank without hitting you over the head. Like the night after Christmas when you were a kid and would dream about all the toys you got and how cool a day it was. It really is a pleasant beer with tons of great hop profile but not overbearing. This really reminds me of a Pliney the Elder in that it's really good without trying too hard. I can't wait til next Christmas!
5 stars on the Mark-o-Meter!
Pros: Excellent Fresh complex hoppy taste from the Michigan Terroir!
Cons: Only comes once a year like Santa Claus
Verdict: If you're sad that you can't get Pliney The Elder where you live, seek out Founder's Harvest Ale and be merry!