Founders Brewing Co. | Porter
If you’ve been to the Founders taproom – particularly on a Monday for $3 pint night – in Grand Rapids, MI, you know it’s a lively, friendly place. Chalkboard beer lists hang over the long wooden bar that’s almost always packed with people jostling to get closer to the rotating taps. Outside on the deck, tables and benches are organized around large fire pits that enable guests to enjoy their beer outdoors even during harsh Michigan winters. The Founders taproom is, in fact, my favorite place to visit and catch up with friends and family when I return to my hometown for the holidays. On a typical trip, I spend at least one night each weekend in the comforting arms of my favorite brews like the namesake of this article, the Founders Porter. It’s a plan that works well, as it enables me to combine my favorite people with my favorite brewery.
Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to set foot in this joyful establishment while I was visiting Grand Rapids over the holidays this year. A vicious flu attacked my parents’ house and left us all coughing, sleeping, and moping for days. But as the day of my departure drew near, I knew I needed to get as close as I could to enjoying a beer there for my own peace of mind, so I convinced my sick boyfriend to bundle up and get in the car, and I drove to Founders. Though we never made it into the taproom per se, we used the last of our remaining energy to buy a six-pack of Founders Porter and a couple koozies from the company store that’s connected to the brewery. We then packed these goodies in our luggage and flew home to Seattle, where I have spent the last few evenings waxing poetic on the virtues of the porter in my possession.
The Founders Porter is a perfectly crafted brew. It pours a thick, caramel-colored head that dissipates after the first few sips. Its color is a deep brown, nearly black, with an opaqueness that insinuates the complexity and hardiness of the beer. Notes of chocolate, roasted malt, and a slight booziness hit the nose, paving the way for the dark delight that is this porter.
The chocolate and roasted aromas that greet you in the nose are readily apparent in the flavor of the beer as well. These are accompanied by a strong coffee taste that blends with the dark chocolate to create a very rich flavor that’s surprisingly drinkable. Above all, it’s the smooth progression of the flavors that make this a great beer. In each sip, the first apparent taste is a faint sweetness with nutty undertones, reminiscent of toffee, followed by a slightly dry hoppiness. It ends on rich coffee notes that leave the bitter aftertaste of burnt toast.
Overall, the beer is a masterpiece of symmetry. The body is thick and smooth, carbonated and crisp. The taste manages to balance the acidity of the bitterest porters with the saccharinity of the sweetest ones, resulting in a drinkable brew that can fit its way into any season and every visit home.