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

Founders Sweet Repute Bottle

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

Founders Sweet Repute

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

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Founders Sweet Repute
BREWERY: Founders Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Grand Rapids, Mich.
STYLE: Wheat beer
ABV: 12.6 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $15.99
RELEASE DATE: Nov. 16, 2013
AVAILABLE IN: 750ml bottles
BEERS POURED: One
If you are going to attempt this beer, I would highly recommend splitting it between as many people as you can get around you. It is so overly sweet and coupled with the lack of variance in the flavor leaves my palate begging for something different. Drinking it is like hearing someone play the same note over and over and over again, after a short amount of time, I was ready for some other flavor, any flavor at all. After drinking around a fourth of this beer it became hard to stomach. On top of that, as it warmed, there was a strange stale flavor that started forming—like a Coca-Cola left out overnight where it becomes flat and bitter. Not the finest effort from Founders, by the end of it, the beer was basically undrinkable and it became a challenge to even sip. There was just absolutely nothing about this beer that made me want to come back to it for another drink. It was unbalanced, overpowering in all the wrong ways and left me wondering how an individual could ever drink a bottle of it.
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