Since the spring of 2009, I have built friendships with two men in California, Richard and Steven, thanks to the fantastic craft beers Founders produces.  Because Founders is not yet distributed in that state, we connected through trade forums on Beer Advocate. It was Richard I connected with first and then got to meet in person when he came to Grand Rapids in 2011 for Founders Annual Black Party. After about 40 years of being wine reviewer and writer, he got bored with it and switched to beer. Since then he has established a very respectful reputation in the world of beer. So much in fact that it’s a rare thing I can hook him up with something he doesn’t already have.

Steven on the other hand is a lot like myself in that we both are mostly limited to drinking the beers we can readily get in our respective areas. Luckily, we both still want beers only the other one can get. Since we first connected in early 2011, our friendship has gone well beyond the world of beer. I’d go so far as to say he’s the best friend I’ve never met.

Regardless of how well I know each of them compared to the other, one thing will always remain the same: Founders beer brought us together.

In the world of social media, Richard doesn’t really have any interest, but Steven on the other hand is incredibly well embedded. What does this all have to do with the title of this article? Founders has a great deal of appreciation for these two and their love for Founders beer. Steven even sent me three bottles of Founders first collaboration beer, LinchPin, which was brewed at and with Green Flash Brewing in CA. Not available in Michigan, Steven wanted to show his appreciation for Founders and their beer and asked that I share all three with Founders employees. And as a thank you for their support in return, Founders gave me three bottles of Bolt Cutter (not only their 15th Anniversary beer, but also the 5th of the Backstage Series) so I could send one bottle to each of them and enjoy one myself.

Overall this is a very special opportunity for me. I’m incredibly grateful for my friendships with Richard and Steven and the fact that Founders not only made it happen, they also showed their appreciation in the coolest way I could imagine. Already there has been a lot of media related articles, videos and photographs from major sources that we’d all expect to see prior to an actual release. As for me, I was given this opportunity as an everyday consumer who loves and appreciates craft beer at an obsessed, super happy fun level. And yes, I even put on a Founders t-shirt while I wrote this article and enjoyed this fantastic beer.

Oh yeah…the beer itself. Please forgive me for getting personal, but it would be hard not to do given that fact that this story is why I’m drinking this beer more than a month before its release date. Bolt Cutter is a barley wine ale with some aged in bourbon barrels, bourbon barrels that aged Michigan maple syrup, and some not barrel aged at all.  Then all three were blended together and bottled which allowed for additional conditioning before the release date. At 15% abv. the first sip was a little hot. Knowing that I tasted it a little early, I let it sit in the glass for about an hour before enjoying the rest. The time elapsed allowed the beer to mellow out a lot which made it much smoother. It had fantastic flavors of malt, vanilla, subtle maple sweetness and bourbon that blended together with great harmony. Given the style of beer, I can’t wait to get a few more bottles to taste how it continues to develop over the next few years.

Lastly and most importantly to those of you who want a bottle or two of this beer, this is Founders’ first ticketed beer release. Starting November 11th, there are six days that the beer will be sold to those with tickets and the last I checked, only Sunday the 11th was sold out so get your tickets here. One ticket guarantees you the opportunity to purchase two bottles of Bolt Cutter. To cap it all off, Founders will be officially celebrating their 15th Anniversary on November 17th. I hope to see you there.

Congratulations to Founders Brewing Company and everything they’ve accomplished in their 15 years. So far, it seems they keep getting better with age.


Founders Brewing Co. 15th Anniversary & 5th Backstage Series Beer: Bolt Cutter Barley Wine Ale