Founders Brewing Co. is no stranger to making great beers – the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based brewery was founded in 1997 by Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers. They are well-known for Breakfast Stout and Kentucky Breakfast Stout, the latter of which only comes out once a year. Sweet Repute is part of the company’s Backstage Series, which is a group of beers that are sporadically brewed throughout the year and generally start out solely as tap room and experimental beers. Sweet Repute’s only release was in December 2013.
- Founders Doom (10 percent ABV) — April 2013 — Imperial IPA
- Founders Mango Magnifico (10 percent ABV) — August 2013 — Fruit ale
- Founders Sweet Repute (12.6 percent ABV) — December 2013 — Fruit ale
The beer was barrel-aged, a process that Founders describes:
It’s one-hundred percent barrel aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels and bourbon barrels over the course of sixteen months, then blended using carefully calculated ratios for the ultimate final product.
For this review, I pour Sweet Repute its 750ml bottle into a tulip glass. It pours very thick with an orange and caramel color. There is a ton suspended sediment in the beer, which makes it very cloudy. Swirling the beer around the glass made it lace on the sides like a glass of wine.
The aroma on Sweet Repute is like a half and half mix of bourbon and maple syrup, a very abrupt hit of sweetness that is more akin to a mixed drink or a port wine than a beer. If I didn’t know I was drinking beer, there is no way I would ever guess it was one by the nose.1
There are no surprises after taking the first sip of Sweet Repute, it is packed with very sweet bourbon and maple flavor and that is just about it, overall the beer is a mess. It is extremely malty and yeasty, but based off of the amount of suspended yeast this was to be expected. It actually drinks more like a liqueur than it does a beer, it envelops my tongue with each sip and is like motor oil in my mouth. Unfortunately for this beer, it’s almost impossible to pick up on anything other than the sweetness, which overpowers any nuances the beer might have. The lack of balance due to the sweetness is what really kills Sweet Repute for me, it would be nice to get barrel notes and a bit more of the bourbon itself and to tone down the sweetness several notches