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Founders announced today that is will release Lizard of Koz, an imperial stout brewed with blueberries, chocolate and vanilla aged in bourbon barrels, as the second Backstage Series beer of 2016. This is the first time Founders has released Lizard of Koz.

This one is near and dear to our hearts. Our Brewmaster, Jeremy Kosmicki, wanted to make the birthday of his little sister, Liz, a special one. So he did what he does best and brewed a stout using a few of her favorite ingredients: fresh Michigan blueberries, rich chocolate and vanilla – aged in bourbon barrels to round out those beautiful flavors. Liz was floored and we think you will be too.

“Lizard of Koz represents everything we love about the Backstage Series,” says Co-Founder and President Dave Engbers, “Inspired, creative, a little bit out there and exploding with flavor. The perfect way to cap off 2016.”

Each 750mL bottle of this rich, tart stout has a suggested retail price of $18.99 and will be available in limited quantities across Founders’ distribution network, which currently includes 39 states, in December. ABV is yet to be determined as brewers are currently pulling the beer out of barrels.

The Backstage Series is made up of boundary-pushing, experimental beers. Affectionately called “the brewers’ playground,” intent is to take the diehard Founders fan experience to a wider audience—though all of the beers are released in limited batches. Since its introduction in the summer of 2011, Backstage Series beers have quickly become some of the most sought-after releases in the industry with past hits including Bolt CutterCBSCurmudgeon’s Better HalfBlushing MonkDoom and 2016’s first release, Mango Magnifico,

 

About Founders Brewing Co.

Established in 1997 by two craft beer enthusiasts—Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens—with day jobs and a dream, Founders Brewing Co. brews complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics and tons of flavor. Founders ranks among the top 20 largest craft breweries in the U.S. and is one of the fastest growing. The brewery has received numerous awards from the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival and RateBeer and BeerAdvocate users often rate its beers among the best in the world. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, Founders is a proud member of the Michigan Brewers Guild. For more information, visit foundersbrewing.com and follow us on TwitterInstagram and Facebook for more updates.

 

GRAND RAPIDS — The Backstage Series, those 750mL bottles filled with taproom one-offs or something new altogether are what epitomizes the Founders’ Philosophy of Brewing. Just ask Dave Engbers, Co-Founder and Vice President of Brand & Education. 

“The Backstage Series is one of the fun things that wasn’t part of the original business plan.  We get to push the liquid envelope, to create brands that are exciting, and give the consumer something interesting to drink,” Engbers says.

Engbers is a talker. His conversation is effortless. It’s obvious he is passionate about Founders and what it does, and it’s also obvious that’s hard for him to contain.

“Music is a big part of what we do; we had live music soon after we opened the taproom and so, [calling it] Backstage was kind of in reference to that quality, the atmosphere of Founders.”

That atmosphere, coupled with the growth and expanding popularity of Founders, is what sparked conversation to create Backstage in 2011. 

“As we grew, we were essentially filling orders. Unfortunately. For a long time, all we were doing was trying to fill these orders and we weren’t allowed to itch that — ” Dave pauses here, searching out the correct word, “creative itch,” he laughed, “that we have.

“It frustrated our brewing team that we weren’t able to create those fun and exciting brands. The whole idea behind [the creation of Backstage] was to share something that historically was available only in the taproom, and bring it to people who might not have the luxury to visit us in Grand Rapids.”

An instrument for creativity and test market to Founders’ biggest and more valued focus group, the taproom is the place for experimentation and for that itch to get scratched.  The most recent release in the Backstage arsenal will be the Smoked Porter, set to release in February. First brewed utilizing the new three-barrel pilot system, this is Founders’ first ever smoked beer. The pilot system will play a big part in further aiding the creative urges of the brew staff, allowing more room for experimentation and playing a part in Backstage beers of the future.

The long list of beers that have already graced the Founders floor includes a myriad of taproom-only specials that many would love to have bottled. But how are the decisions made to select what gets the honor of becoming a Backstage beer?

“We have a tight R&D team, a small group of people that talk about future Backstage product. I can tell you there are a very limited number of people here at Founders who knows what the upcoming Backstage Series are. Out of the 205 employees, maybe seven or eight people know. Honestly, it’s kept very quiet — often times the beer is already produced — some of the brewers might not know what it is, sometimes the Cellarmen will be moving beer from tanks or in the barrels and have no idea. A lot of our beers just have stamped codes on them,” Engbers shares.

The magic of Backstage is not just in the mystery of what will be next. The limited quantities and possibilities of never seeing a beer again definitely have something to do with it. Regardless, it’s not about the marketing, not about driving sales. Founders is Founders, and remains true to its mantra.

“For Backstage, the beer has to be unique. One of the most common questions I get is ‘when is CBS going to be brewed again?’ CBS was one of those that hit harder than anything we anticipated, but we won’t brew it again just to create buzz. When we say ‘brewed for us,’ that’s legitimate. We create the beer, we don’t create the buzz. Some of that just happens because the beer enthusiast community is so strong and so engaged in what we do that there’s often this anticipation,” says Engbers.

The best way to drink them? Engbers shares an enthusiasm that all craft beer lovers can relate. “If I score a bottle of something really awesome or rare, my first reaction is to go ‘I gotta call my friend, let’s share this’, because it would mean so much to them to be able to experience this beer,” he says. “Our industry lends itself to people who are a little more selfless.”

So be selfless, find yourself a bottle of Sweet Repute, pull that Blushing Monk out of the beer cellar, or snag some Smoked Porter in February and call your friends. You may not see these beers again, but you can always anticipate something unique in the future. So drink to that.

GRAND RAPIDS — The Backstage Series, those 750mL bottles filled with taproom one-offs or something new altogether are what epitomizes the Founders’ Philosophy of Brewing. Just ask Dave Engbers, Co-Founder and Vice President of Brand & Education. 

“The Backstage Series is one of the fun things that wasn’t part of the original business plan.  We get to push the liquid envelope, to create brands that are exciting, and give the consumer something interesting to drink,” Engbers says.

Engbers is a talker. His conversation is effortless. It’s obvious he is passionate about Founders and what it does, and it’s also obvious that’s hard for him to contain.

“Music is a big part of what we do; we had live music soon after we opened the taproom and so, [calling it] Backstage was kind of in reference to that quality, the atmosphere of Founders.”

That atmosphere, coupled with the growth and expanding popularity of Founders, is what sparked conversation to create Backstage in 2011. 

“As we grew, we were essentially filling orders. Unfortunately. For a long time, all we were doing was trying to fill these orders and we weren’t allowed to itch that — ” Dave pauses here, searching out the correct word, “creative itch,” he laughed, “that we have.

“It frustrated our brewing team that we weren’t able to create those fun and exciting brands. The whole idea behind [the creation of Backstage] was to share something that historically was available only in the taproom, and bring it to people who might not have the luxury to visit us in Grand Rapids.”

An instrument for creativity and test market to Founders’ biggest and more valued focus group, the taproom is the place for experimentation and for that itch to get scratched.  The most recent release in the Backstage arsenal will be the Smoked Porter, set to release in February. First brewed utilizing the new three-barrel pilot system, this is Founders’ first ever smoked beer. The pilot system will play a big part in further aiding the creative urges of the brew staff, allowing more room for experimentation and playing a part in Backstage beers of the future.

The long list of beers that have already graced the Founders floor includes a myriad of taproom-only specials that many would love to have bottled. But how are the decisions made to select what gets the honor of becoming a Backstage beer?

“We have a tight R&D team, a small group of people that talk about future Backstage product. I can tell you there are a very limited number of people here at Founders who knows what the upcoming Backstage Series are. Out of the 205 employees, maybe seven or eight people know. Honestly, it’s kept very quiet — often times the beer is already produced — some of the brewers might not know what it is, sometimes the Cellarmen will be moving beer from tanks or in the barrels and have no idea. A lot of our beers just have stamped codes on them,” Engbers shares.

The magic of Backstage is not just in the mystery of what will be next. The limited quantities and possibilities of never seeing a beer again definitely have something to do with it. Regardless, it’s not about the marketing, not about driving sales. Founders is Founders, and remains true to its mantra.

“For Backstage, the beer has to be unique. One of the most common questions I get is ‘when is CBS going to be brewed again?’ CBS was one of those that hit harder than anything we anticipated, but we won’t brew it again just to create buzz. When we say ‘brewed for us,’ that’s legitimate. We create the beer, we don’t create the buzz. Some of that just happens because the beer enthusiast community is so strong and so engaged in what we do that there’s often this anticipation,” says Engbers.

The best way to drink them? Engbers shares an enthusiasm that all craft beer lovers can relate. “If I score a bottle of something really awesome or rare, my first reaction is to go ‘I gotta call my friend, let’s share this’, because it would mean so much to them to be able to experience this beer,” he says. “Our industry lends itself to people who are a little more selfless.”

So be selfless, find yourself a bottle of Sweet Repute, pull that Blushing Monk out of the beer cellar, or snag some Smoked Porter in February and call your friends. You may not see these beers again, but you can always anticipate something unique in the future. So drink to that.

GRAND RAPIDS — Founders Brewing Co. will introduce Mango Magnifico con Calor (Magnificent Mango with Heat), a fruit beer brewed with mango and a touch of habanero, this August to mark the seventh installment in the brewery’s popular Backstage Series.

The beer will be available in 750mL bottles for a suggested retail price of $12.99.

Mango Magnifico is a never-before-released, high-gravity fruit beer brewed with mango and Michigan-grown habaneros. Not a traditional fruit beer, the delicate tropical fruit in Mango Magnifico is punctuated by a hint of heat, increasing the overall depth of flavor and adding another level of complexity. It will be a refreshing drink for the warm summer months.

“Mango Magnifico, like the entire Backstage Series, is intended to push the boundaries of what is commonly accepted in beer styles,” said Co-Founder and Vice President of Brand & Education Dave Engbers. “The Backstage Series is the perfect conduit to showcase our brewing team’s creativity.”

Founders has had success with their interpretation of fruit beers, including the likes of Cerise, Rubaeus and Blushing Monk. But Mango Magnifico is one-of-a-kind.

Founders’ Backstage Series is made up of boundary-pushing, experimental beers. The intent of the series is to take the diehard Founders fan experience to a wider audience — though all of the beers are still released in limited batches. Since its introduction in the summer of 2011, Founders’ Backstage Series beers have quickly become some of the most sought-after releases in the industry.

Mango Magnifico will be released in limited quantities across Founders’ distribution footprint beginning August 5, and will be available at the brewery’s taproom the week prior. The brewery expects to release one more Backstage Series beer in 2013.

10% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Clear gold with a small head.
Aroma: Hops with some cloves and banana.
Taste: Sweet citrus, banana, bread and moderate hops.
Mouthfeel: Medium to strong bodied.

Founders’ latest entry into its Backstage Series is a first for the brewery — Doom, an Imperial IPA. With moderate hops and a bit of a boozy backend, this brew has some of the best qualities of any style of beer out there today. With a sweet fruitiness to it, it balances rather well against the hops. Great for any IPA lover, and even those who aren’t a huge fan of those bitter finishes.

GRAND RAPIDS — Founders Brewing Co. has announced the release of Bolt Cutter, a brew celebrating the brewery’s 15th anniversary.

The 15% ABV barleywine will be released in November, and is part of the brewery’s Backstage Series.

Bolt Cutter will be available in Founders’ taproom through a ticketed release system, Nov. 11-16, and in stores Nov. 19. Tickets for the taproom release go on sale this Saturday at 11 a.m. at Brown Paper Tickets.

“Dry-hopped with a mountain of Cascade hops, it’s balanced by a malty sweetness and spicy complexity, resulting from barrel aging some of it in bourbon barrels, some in maple syrup bourbon barrels and some not at all (standard fermentation only),” said Founders in a statement.

Founders also announced a free anniversary party, taking place Nov. 17 in its taproom.

GRAND RAPIDS — Frangelic Mountain Brown is the next release in Founder’s Backstage Series, with availability beginning in July.

The fourth release in the series, Frangelic Mountain Brown will join Blushing Monk, Canadian Breakfast Stout and Curmudgeon’s Better Half, all part of an effort to bring some of Founders’ most sought-after beers, previously available primarily in the taproom, to a larger audience. All of these releases are offered at retailers, sold in 750 milliliter bottles.

“The goal of the Backstage Series is to allow those beer enthusiasts who don’t have the ability to make it to our taproom an opportunity to experience some of the beers that, historically, have been limited to our taproom and a handful of high exposure events,” said Dave Engbers, Founders Brewing Co. vice president and co-founder. “Although these beers are not brewed in large volume, it is our intention to distribute them to all of our markets.”

Frangelic Mountain Brown is the quintessential taproom “one-off” beer — Founders’ brewers created the Mountain Brown series for their taproom in Grand Rapids in 2007. The 16th iteration in the series of popular brown ales, Frangelic Mountain Brown likely won’t be the last.

The singular characteristic of this beer comes from the use of hazelnut coffees in the brewing process. The beer has distinct aromatics with sweet and nutty flavors beautifully balanced. Founders is known for its beers made with coffee — i.e., the Breakfast Stout series — but this is both the brewery’s first brown ale and its first beer brewed with hazelnut coffees to be bottled. It clocks in at 9-percent ABV.

The next beer to be released in the series later this year will be a celebration of the brewery’s 15th anniversary, though the style is yet-to-be revealed.

Founders Brewing Co. is becoming the place to go for experimental, limited and rare release beers. So there was no doubt in my mind that Curmudgeon’s Better Half, the third release in Founders’ Backstage Series lineup, would be anything but successful.

A re-branding of the beer formerly known as Kaiser’s Curmudgeon, the beer was previously only served at Founders’ taproom and in extremely limited draft distribution. Curmudgeon is brewed with molasses and aged in oak and becomes “Better Half” after aging for 254 days in bourbon barrels that have more recently been aging in Michigan maple syrup.

Curmudgeon’s Better Half was released in 750-milliliter bottles on Feb. 13 — just in time for Valentine’s Day — and was sold out by 3 p.m. that same day.

First trying it on tap, and then in bottle form, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that this brew wasn’t as thick or heavy as Founders’ previous release, Canadian Breakfast Stout. While it held some similar flavor profiles, Curmudgeon’s Better Half had a unique, lighter flair to it, not often found in limited release brews.

Pouring a cloudy copper color with a low head, Curmudgeon’s Better Half is a reminder of all things sweet — you can immediately smell brown sugar, raisins, caramel and molasses.

Maple syrup dominates the palate, along with vanilla, nut, bourbon and caramel. It’s best described as a “good sipping beer,” as a slight burn flavor comes through, but otherwise it is very sweet. There’s a mild carbonation, yet this is a creamy and silky brew. And despite it holding 11.9% ABV, Curmudgeon’s Better Half is surprisingly easy to drink, with only a minor bitterness at the end.

Curmudgeon’s Better Half can be compared to a sweet breakfast of doughnuts, waffles or pancakes. The sweetness blew me away, though it was surprisingly well balanced. This is a memorable beer without a doubt, and it forces you to savor each saccharine sip.