I want to thank the good folks at Haymarket Pub & Brewery here in Chicago for the Founders Brewing tap takeover this past Wednesday. They had some truly excellent offerings across 12 taps; that is, if you could fight through the huddled masses in overcoats that made the brewpub seem as if it were the Ellis Island of bars. And did the Founders beers they offered make one want to emigrate to Grand Rapids to live off of Founders for one's remaining days? Absolutely. Bring us your tired, your poor, and most of all, your thirsty.
The rumored Black Biscuit was not there. In its stead were some treats. Founders' Nemisis was exceptional, dark with a steady coffee or hops profile that gave it real backbone, this barleywine featured a hint of sweet malts steeped in a robust grainy flavor. The Double Trouble imperial IPA drank deliciously, smooth as ever with a slightly creamy grapefruit hops character. The star of the show, of course, was the Canadian Breakfast Stout. I imagine this was a 2009-10 batch that had more of the essence of maple syrup than its actual flavor, but the coffee notes announced themselves even more strongly on the finish, counterbalanced by bourbon. This is an elite beer. Also, the Newaygo County Cherry barrel aged in maple syrup and bourbon offered its characteristic licorice-like tartness with a pseudo-Lambic mouthfeel.
Mainline offerings such as the dark, stoic and delicious Founders Porter served as an excellent counterpoint to the rare beers. They demonstrated what a truly deep and diverse lineup Founders has and justified the maddening crowd about the place. It's hard to keep quality like this a secret, and, gladly, the secret is out regarding Founders.