Beer of the Weekend #856: Bolt Cutter

This BotW is five years in the making.

Way back in November 2012, I was told that the Founders Brewing Company was releasing a special, limited release beer for its 15th anniversary. John’s Grocery received one or two cases, and when the bottles were gone, they were gone for good. So I moseyed over to John’s the day the beer was released—November 19, the Monday before Thanksgiving that year—and bought a bottle.

It has been chilling in my fridge ever since.

After five years, it is high time I drink my bottle of Bolt Cutter—and that is exactly what I’m doing tonight. Why have I put it off for so long? Mostly because it is 15 percent ABV. That is pretty hefty for me. But since I bought it around Thanksgiving, I want to consume it around Thanksgiving.

How will it taste? Will it still be drinkable? We’ll see! The fact that it has been in the fridge this whole time bodes well, though.

Without further ado, the beer of the weekend is Bolt Cutter, brewed by the Founders Brewing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The color is reminiscent of maple syrup, though it with a ruby amber tint. A finger of tan, bubbly head leaves spots of bubbles lingering near the edges, a wispy skim, and a ring around the edge between the spots of bubbles. A second pour, mid-bottle, produces a dense, buttery, tan head that dissipates slowly.

The aroma is very oaky and full of the barrel-aged character. There are scents of maple syrup, caramel, whiskey, and light char. It is sweet, too, with cherry licorice, honey, and a hint of dark berries. It is an amazing and complementary medley of scents. There is no hint of booze.

However, the first sip is very warming. The alcohol is not stinging, astringent, or overpowering; instead, it is warming and allows the other flavors to shine—which they do in waves. Caramel is prominent and complemented by oak, whiskey, honey, and cherry licorice. It is very much like a hot toddy. The mouthfeel is syrupy and smooth, coating the taste buds in a sweet, pleasant burn. Char emerges but is not as prominent as it is in the aroma. There is also a hint of cocoa.

Wow, is that good beer! Yes, I think it aged well.

Fun facts about Bolt Cutter:

• Style: Barley wine.

• Price: $22.99 for a 750-ml bottle at John’s Grocery in Iowa City. Yes, I even kept the receipt:

Much like I kept the beer in the fridge, I kept the receipt in the middle drawer of my desk.

• Alcohol content: 15 percent ABV—a percent for each year the brewery had been operating.

• Here’s the story behind the name, courtesy of the brewery’s website:

“Years ago,” says Co-Founder, President & CEO Mike Stevens, “when our brewery was located on Monroe, we were defaulting on our loan. Eventually, the bank called and threatened to chain our doors shut if we didn’t come up with the money that we owed them. We had seven days to come up with half a million dollars.”

“So I bought a pair of bolt cutters,” says Co-Founder, Vice President of Brand & Education Dave Engbers. “We were determined to keep our doors open and to keep brewing beer, no matter what it took. Luckily, we never had to use them.”

The Quiet Man’s grade: A.

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