GRAND RAPIDS — For Matt Lee and Laura Wolfe, it doesn’t get any better than Founders Annual Black Party.
On Saturday, the two sat with friends they met during the previous year’s Black Party to sample the 10 special “black” brews offered at the 11th annual event.
“Black Party’s great,” Lee said. “Last year was the best experience, so we decided to come back again.”
Hosted at Founders Brewing Co.’s taproom, the Black Party wasn’t limited to just 10 specially-made brews for the event — various firkin were released throughout the day and two of Founders most-famous beers were tapped, KBS and CBS.
Following the release of KBS on March 10, during which patrons were turned away with empty glasses, the company vowed to triple its volume for next year’s release. Having heard about the empty-handed patrons at the KBS release, Lee and Wolfe arrived at Founders by 7 a.m. Saturday after commuting to Grand Rapids the evening before.
“I didn’t want to stand outside in line all day,” said Lee, a Munster, Ind. resident.
“We’re always looking for Founders beer and it’s hard to find (in Chicago area),” Wolfe added. “It makes the trip worth it.”
In addition to some of Founders’ regular brews, these 10 were on tap for the entire day of the event:
- Milk Stout (4.9 % ABV) — Milk sugar is added to this brew during boiling, creating extra body and a perceived sweetness.
- Black IPA 2012 (7% ABV) — Using a four variety dry hop (Centennial, Amarillo, Simcoe and Zythos), this IPA is brewed using a new malt called “midnight wheat.”
- Party Stout (6.9% ABV) — Described as “roasty” and “yummy.”
- Baby Nilla Po (6.1% ABV) — Added Madagascar and Mexican vanilla beans to the traditional porter.
- B.A. Berzerker 37 (7.7% ABV) — With generous wheat malts, this brew was aged 233 days in bourbon casks.
- Rock Me Like a Maplecane (8.5% ABV) — Aged for a full year in maple syrup and bourbon barrels, this was award-winning during last year’s tap.
- Barrel Aged Black IPA (8.5% ABV) — Aged in 21-year-old bourbon barrels.
- Blackwoods Bastard (9.5% ABV) — Spicy, sweet, oaky and boozy, this was darker-hued take on Dirty Bastard.
- Rye Aged Rye Stout (8% ABV) — Spicy and roasty after 375 days of aging in rye barrels.
- Coat2 (5.1%) — Oatmeal Stout in non-nitrogen form.
With the variety of specialty brews and proximity of Founders, Lee and Wolfe call this annual event their “fun secret.” But — with a steady line outside the door throughout the day — not too secret.
“Even in Chicago we don’t have a brewpub this size,” Wolfe said. “This is a unique situation.”
For the two travelers, a trip to Founders for an event like the Black Party is a more enjoyable weekend than trekking through the Windy City.
“The people who work at Founders are really, really cool,” Lee said. “We need to take advantage now before (Founders) is over-saturated with people who want to know more about craft brewing.”