The tweet from Madeira Liquors said it all: "So friggin' excited to announce Founders is now available in Rhode Island!" Nikki's Facebook page concurred: They posted the simple message: "... finally," which inspired the responses: "Yay!!!" "Awesome!" "No way!"
The arrival of Founders has been anticipated for years, and with very good reason: the lineup from the brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is as good as it gets. They placed second on the just-released Best Brewers In the World list in RateBeer's Best Awards for 2012 (as they did in '11; Three Floyds is No. 1, with Bell's, AleSmith, and Cigar City at 3-5; none of those breweries distribute in the Northeast). Their mission statement fulfills its promise in every offering in their portfolio: "To brew the kind of beer that got [us] excited about brewing in the first place: complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics, bigger body, and tons of flavor."
Let's run through the year-round lineup:
• CENTENNIAL IPA (7.2% ABV): A great dry-hopped and unfiltered citrus bomb. And the batch in stores now is fresh: they were bottled on 2.22.12.
• DIRTY BASTARD SCOTCH STYLE ALE (8.5% ABV): Mega-malty (seven distinct roasted flavors) and boasting more hops than usually found in this style.
• PALE ALE (5.4% ABV): Founders' most straightforward brew, solid and sessionable.
• PORTER (6.5% ABV): No clever name needed for this hop-laced, chocolatey beauty, though they do add a bit of seductive description on the label: "Dark, Rich & Sexy."
• RED'S RYE PA (6.6% ABV): Layers and layers of flavors to absorb here, with an exquisite blend of caramel malts, fruity/bitter hops, and the enticing bite of rye malt (I need to do a blind taste test with Bear Republic's Hop Rod Rye and this beauty).
Founders also has a trio of seasonal four-packs. DOUBLE TROUBLE IMPERIAL IPA (9.4% ABV) is out now. It's an astoundingly good big beer, and a genuine steal at $10 (or so). CERISE (a 6.5% ABV cherry-fermented ale, June-August) and the esteemed BREAKFAST STOUT (a "double chocolate coffee oatmeal" concoction, September-December) will be in the mix (though those will likely be a bit hard to find). And Founders' specialty releases — Imperial Stout, KBS, Curmudgeon, Devil Dancer, Harvest Ale, and Backwoods Bastard — should be available in very limited quantities. If you're lucky enough to see them on the shelf, do not hesitate. (I've had the Curmudgeon Old Ale and the Devil Dancer Triple Ale — at 9.8 and 12% ABV, respectively, they are formidable and rewarding beers.)
Mix all six ASAP and add your huzzahs to the list while sampling the entire reasonably priced Founders line ($11-$12 in most stores). Exemplary beers from one of the world's best brewers is a wonderfully affordable luxury. (And kudos to the folks at Elevated Spirits for bringing them to the state.)
AND beyond Founders, there's a slew of other notable recent beer releases. Get these: