After two days of rain and temps in the 50s, Saturday was a little more promising with sunshine and a slightly warmer attitude. With a chill breeze blowing every so often, it was still nice to see the sun. The weekend posed a couple of decisions that had to be made. I had a twenty-dollar bill in my pocket but the Mighty Tundra was low on gas and I hadn’t bought beer for Saturday night.
I had planned on making a beer run out to Cardinal in Joliet but there wasn’t enough gas for the round trip and the beer. I decided on Friday night that I’d go back to Four Seasons Beer Store right down the street and really scope out their selection.
I brought along a pocket pad of paper and a pen and started scrutinizing their selection while jotting down names and ABVs. The reason I did this was twofold. First, to research the beers online and pick the best bang for the buck and second, I didn’t want to review a beer I had already reviewed but forgotten.
With the first page scrawled with names and stats, I went home and sat down at the Mac and started researching and eliminating unappealing styles and low ABVs. My best pick of the moment was Old Curmudgeon Ale from Founders. It was an old ale style beer with just under 10% alcohol. I thought that this would be the perfect beer based on all present circumstances.
Saturday afternoon it was back to the Four Seasons with that pocketed double sawbuck. I spotted the 4-pack on the shelf for 14 bucks! Great Googlie-Mooglies! But I looked around again at what was nearby and figured what the hell.
I decided to check to see if there was a one in the cooler. I was double rewarded with not only a foursome of Old C. nicely chilled, but also tagged at a dollar lower. I paid the man and promptly chucked the loot in the garage beer fridge.
Beer time rolled around and I grabbed the first bottle and mused on the label. The figure was an old man with a quizzical look dressed in clothes harking back to the 15th or 16th century. Unless it was the image of some guy from the Ukraine who still had clothes like that in his closet. Certainly not the grumpy old man look we’ve come to know.
The neck label showed some stats: 50 IBUs, 9.8% ABV. This particular batch of beer was bottled towards the end of April of this year. A little old by some standards but the high ABV would keep this beer tasting as it should and perhaps even getting better over time if cellared properly. I wasn’t worried.
The beer poured with an orange-red color reminding me of the Ommegang Abbey Ale I had last night. I had expected this beer to be a lot darker. A slightly yellowish foam came to about a half-inch and slowly dissipated in spite of the vigorous carbonation. Aroma was minuscule to these nostrils. There was a bit of gunk floating on the top but it was merely some yeast sediment that hadn’t come apart. I’m not going to worry about it.
Earlier this year I partook of a sixer of Bell’s Oberon. I remembered that beer, while tasting the same as always, had particles in suspension. This beer resembled that same scene only with a different color background. I will admit though, that it is a little unsettling seeing that stuff suspended in there.
The first sip was absolutely delicious, not what I was expecting. Nicely sweet with a hearty malt backbone and an easy going finish. Then the space heater got fired up in the gut, set on low. In the depths of each sip were dark fruit essences such as raisins or dates. Those flavors however, were indistinct and somewhat obscure. I detected a little caramel and maybe molasses or maple syrup flavors later on but the whole blend of the malts and the brilliant sweetness combined into a taste experience that was out of this world.
The only other beer of this old ale style that I’ve had was Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing. That beer was this beer raised up a few notches to 11.7%. I’ve learned that drinking one 12-ounce bottle of Old Stock cut my beer enjoyment session by about an hour. It was an ass kickin’ in a bottle.
Old Curmudgeon on the other hand was like an NFL linebacker dressed in a perfectly fitted suit and tie carrying a bouquet of flowers. Lookin’ real good while still demanding respect. The beer had some big, bold flavors while still delivering that sugary sweetness, backed up by the 9.8%. The 50 IBUs goes missing amid the big malt flavors. This beer tasted more like a nice quadrupel than Old Stock.
Even though Old C. exceeds the BJCP range for ABV by .8%, it still deserved a mention in the examples at the bottom, while Old Stock Ale is almost conspicuous by its absence there.
After the first glassful had been drained, I felt no alcohol effects but the stomach was nicely warmed and gave me a nice feeling. I wondered if the second bottle had the same yeasty sediment that the first one did. The trusty ol’ Craftsman flashlight lit the scene up for all to behold, a nice slurry of yeast at the bottom of the unopened bottled. I poured this next one like a wheat beer, swirling around the last inch or so of the bottle contents before dumping it in the glass. Nope. Still had the floaties.
In spite of the gunk in the liquid, the beer tasted just like the first one did, only colder. The warmer the beer got, the more of the malt character came forward. The slow and low fire down below coupled with the great taste makes this beer a perfect winter warmer. Why Founders makes this beer available in March and April instead of September and October is beyond me. It’s a perfect sippin’ beer in front of a fire on a cold winter night.
Taste: Big, bold and malty. Sweetness is free with each sip.
Smoothness: Like the water slide at Pigstigger Park.
Drinkability: Easy goin’ right up to the last drop.
Bang for the buck: Great taste for little more dinero.
Paid price: $12.99
Get it again? Oh, hell yeah.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Something floating in it. (sip)I don’t get a lot of sweet. I get kinda bitter but it goes away. (sip) Not too drying considering. But I don’t like stuff floating around in there. (What about vegetable soup? That’s got stuff floating around in it…)
Daniel, from Beyond the Pour, does a video review [5:44]
Founders Brewing Company [4:19]
Clint Eastwood – Gran Torino [3:06]