Founders Brewing Co. is celebrating its barrel-aging history for its 20th-anniversary year. The Grand-Rapids, Mich.-based brewing brand is in the process of releasing a new barrel-aged series along with the stellar video above (so dig that downtempo soundtrack). At the end of last year, Founders announced the launch of a brand-new series, the fittingly named Barrel-Aged Series, that honors a program responsible for the hugely popular KBS brand. Throughout the year, they will be releasing six different barreled-aged beers, including KBS in April and Backwoods Bastard in November. In honor of this year of barrel-aging (instead of the rooster), we reached out to Francesca Jasinski, PR and communications assistant for Founders Brewing Co., and asked her to pass along a list of important factoids about Founders barrel-aging program. Here’s what she dug up:
- KBS was the first beer we barrel-aged back in 2002.
- We store barrels in a cave that was at one time a gypsum mine. It’s located a short distance from our two brewing locations in downtown Grand Rapids and is about 90 feet underground.
- Here is how the program came to be: Our Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki was a big fan of bourbon and its characteristic flavors. The concept of aging beer in barrels certainly wasn’t new (it’s an ancient practice), but he wanted to try his hand at it. In 2001, we got our hands on two barrels, which we aged Breakfast Stout in. We liked the concept and the rich flavors the bourbon imparted on the beer, but we found the final product was a bit thin. The next year, we had double the number of barrels and had brewed an imperialized version of Breakfast Stout to age in them.
- For the next few years, we kept doubling the number of barrels we had each year. In 2007, we hit 28 total barrels and ran out of space to store them. This is when we decided to move the aging operation underground to the caves, starting with a batch of Backwoods Bastard.
- We taste each barrel that comes out of the caves prior to blending and packaging the beer. This can mean our brewers and quality folks are drinking hundreds of small samples in a morning… sounds fun, but definitely not an easy feat.
- We recently opened a 190,000-square foot second brewing location in Grand Rapids that will focus on experimental and barrel-aged beer. We call it the “Barrel House.”
- Our barrel-aging program continues to grow each year.
What about this Frootwood beer?
Frootwood is the first new beer to be released in the Barrel-Aged Series. It is a cherry ale aged in oak barrels that have previously held both bourbon and maple syrup. Frootwood will be available in some states as early as January, with remaining states seeing it by February. Founders released it in the taproom on Jan. 13, and it will have a suggested retail price of $14.99 for a 4-pack and $11.99 for a 750-mL bottle. The entire Barrel-Aged Series lineup will be offered in both 750-mL bottles and 4-packs of 12-ounce bottles.
Founders will announce the remaining three releases in the Barrel-Aged Series later in the year.