Founders Brewing Co. is no stranger to releasing polarizing beers, as its newest Barrel-Aged Series release clearly shows.

The beer in question is Dankwood, a 12.2 percent ABV imperial red IPA brewed with caramalt and roasted barley as well as chinook, Mosaic and Simcoe hops before being aged in bourbon barrels.

Founders actually used its reDANKulous IPA as the base, a beer that debuted as part of the Grand Rapids Mich.-based brewery’s Backstage Series in July 2015 in 750ml bottles before being moved to the Specialty Series in 2016 packaged in 12-ounce bottles. It was then rereleased last year packaged in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles.

Of course, Founders is known for pushing the envelope with its limited releases and has even produced barrel-aged IPAs before, most notably Doom (12.4 percent ABV) which debuted in 2009 as a draft-only option and was rereleased last year. In addition, the brewery has announced that the June addition to its Barrel-Aged Series is yet another example of style named Barrel Runner, an imperial IPA brewed with Mosaic hops before being aged in rum barrels.

Dankwood is the third release this year in Founders’ Barrel-Aged Series, which is made up of various styles of beers aged in barrels:

As with all of the Barrel-Aged Series releases, Dankwood is packaged in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles ($14.99) and 750ml bottles (11.95) that shipped across the brewery’s 46-state distribution network starting late last month.

The Founders Dankwood pours a murky reddish brown color with a finger of fluffy off-white head that dissipates relatively quickly, leaving behind a thin lacing as well as a small island in the middle. There does seem to be plenty of carbonation present and the aroma wafting from the glass is a combination of strong pine, oak, brown sugar, caramel and grass.

 

From the first sip, the Dankwood is a flavor-bomb, featuring strong caramel and licorice sweetness on the palate that competes with notes of overly bitter hops, citrus and smoky oak on the finish. I am a bit shocked at the lack of overt barrel presence; while I can taste the bourbon in the profile, it is a bit understated, almost to the point where it comes close to being drowned out by the more aggressive flavors that are more dominant at certain points. There is plenty of carbonation to be found, leading to a bit more prickly feeling than I expected, although that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Founders Dankwood
BREWERY: Founders Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Grand Rapids, Mich.
STYLE: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Red IPA
ABV: 12.2 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $3.75 (Four-pack of 12-ounce bottles, $14.99)
RELEASE DATE: April 2017
AVAILABLE IN: 12-ounce bottles & 750ml Bottles
BEERS POURED: One
If there was a list of beer styles that get riled up, a bourbon barrel-aged red IPA would be close to the top, for good reason. There is no doubt the profile in the Founders Dankwood is complex, with sweet and smoky oak dominating the palate while the finish is dominated by piney hops. In fact, the major problem is not with the flavors in the profile—as I am sure many people who have never had it would assume—but the balance, as the flavors are all so strong that they compete with each other, leading to a very unbalanced beer that quickly exhausts the palate. A very interesting release to be sure and one that I am really looking forward to trying after a bit of time to give the flavors time to meld together a bit more.
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