GRAND RAPIDS — The 13th Annual Black Party at Founders was held on Saturday. Lucky 13 brought beautiful weather and huge crowds to enjoy the many black beers Founders has become famous for, as well as a few new surprises.
If you were fortunate enough to arrive in time to receive the commemorative pint glass, it was probably Paul Eyk who handed it to you. Eyk, manning the door dressed in a tuxedo with tails and a top hat, was Founders’ very first door man at the original location and has attended every Black Party since it’s inception.
“Every year this party gets better and better. People come from further and further away to be part of it”, Eyk said.
Eyk was also one of the very first mug club members. He chose mug number 116, which corresponds with his birthdate.
Fans of the brewery’s Black IPA could choose from many variations of it. The lightest, a session version called All Night IPA, weighed in at 4.2% ABV. The standard Black IPA, an Imperial Black and several barrel-aged versions topping out at 11.7% ABV rounded out the style.
Long time Founders devotee and Grand Rapids resident Brian Chuchla has been to a decades’ worth of Black Party celebrations. “I’m not typically much of an IPA fan but some of the unique flavors that I don’t normally have, I need to try them when I’m here. I love the Maple Barrel Aged Black IPA today!” he said.
Tim Sundt related, saying “We’re in a place that understands subtle changes make for a very different beer.”
Among the tweaked beers on the tap list was Cran Cub, a base of Panther Cub blended with 5-month bourbon barrel-aged CraZpberry SaWce, which was brewed with cranberries, raspberries and crystal malt for the winter holidays. Panther Cub, a porter aged one year in Blis maple syrup barrels with whole vanilla beans, is a favorite of many Founders enthusiasts.
KBS flowed all day long, fulfilling the wishes of many attendees who hoped to have a second pour or more. Overheard many times throughout the day were excited approvals from the crowd, most voicing satisfaction with this year’s batch as well as the quantity made available.
Specialty foods were available in addition to the regular deli menu. The famed Dirty Bastard Bratwurst was being served hot off the grill, complete with Dirty Bastard Sauerkraut and Dirty Bastard Stone Ground Mustard for a trifecta that pleased hungry patrons.
Music was provided by Nathaniel Rateliff, Caroline Rose and Oracle. Guests may have recognized several Founders employees playing in Oracle, including Jeremy Kosmicki, head brewer, whose name once graced the label of KBS.