When it was announced in 2010, Founders Brewing Co.’s Nemesis was one of the first of many limited edition series of beers that would follow from various breweries, some of which have been extremely popular. However, while it was originally intended to be a yearly release, there have only been two different beers with the Nemesis moniker: the Nemesis 2009—which was actually released in 2010—and the Nemesis 2010, which was also released in 2010.

Founders Nemesis 2009 bottle

Founders described the Nemesis Series:

What you have here is a rarity. A special, one-of-a-kind ale that is only made once a year. Sometimes that’s all. Forever. No more. Nada. Limited-time only. You never know what you’re gonna get. But you can be sure that it’ll be damn tasty.

The first release in 2010 was a 12.5 percent “Maple Bourbon barrel aged wheat wine” that was aged in bourbon barrels that were once used to hold maple syrup from Michigan. According to Founder’s, the beer rested in the barrels “deep in the mins of Grand Rapids” for almost nine months before being bottled. The 2010 release ended up being a 12 percent ABV American “dark barleywine” brewed with five different malts and “no shortage of hops.”

The Founders Nemesis 2009 pours a copper/amber color, and although there is a hiss when I open the bottle, there is absolutely no head and no lacing to speak of anywhere in the glass. There is an astounding amount of sediment floating around in the glass after the pour,1 and aroma from the top of the beer is a combination of strong maple, oak, wheat, white pepper and apple sweetness.

Founders Nemesis 2009

After letting the floaties settle down a little bit, the first sip of the Founders Nemesis 2009 brings immediate and strong flavors of oak, bourbon, cereal grains, caramel and toffee, followed by a distinct yet slight maple sweetness on the finish. The alcohol burn is easily noticeable, could even be considered a touch harsh at points, but not enough to detract from the overall profile. While the beer is not completely carbonation free, it is as close to still as it can be without going over the edge.2 I notice a touch of oxidation, but not enough to warrant worrying about, and honestly, significantly less than I expected. The body of the beer is quite thick, and coats both my mouth and my throat every time I take a drink, which is a bit disconcerting to say the least.

Founders Nemesis 2009
BREWERY: Founders Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Grand Rapids, Mich.
STYLE: Wheazwine
ABV: 12.5 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $5.99
AVAILABLE IN: 12-ounce bottles
Smooth but not overly nuanced, the Founders Nemesis 2009 has aged quite a bit better than I expected. While there is quite a bit of a maple sweetness in the aroma, the actual flavor does not follow through, and besides the note on the finish, there was very little sweetness left in this beer. The bourbon in the profile is the dominant flavor, and reminds me quite a bit of Backwoods Bastard in that regard. While this was not near as bad as it could have been considering the fact that it is five-years-old, more time is not going to do this beer any favors. If you have one, drink it now.
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