The Imbibing Scribe: Cherry Maple Bourbon Beer

Late winter is an uncertain time for beer. The weather can’t decide if it’s winter or spring, and your beer palate struggles to keep up with the shifting thermometer and seasonally available brews. But never fear. This uncertainty is a total victory for beer nerds, because in these crossover periods you can frequently find the most interesting and creative beers. One such example? Founders Frootwood: a cherry ale that they stuck in maple syrup bourbon barrels. Having had a Founders Cherry Ale (Cerise), there’s literally nothing about that description I don’t like, and when the current trend is for sour beers and super hops, it takes a special kind of balls to make a beer with literal syrup in it. Founders has those special balls.

We cracked a 750mL bottle (always nice to have a splittable big bottle, though I will frequently split one with myself) and poured into a tulip glass. It has a decidedly red color, which is, I suppose, not surprising. The aroma, though, is pretty intensely sweet. You can clearly smell the vanilla notes from the bourbon and the maple sweetness from the syrup, but the real belle of the ball is the cherries.

The beer has decidedly little head, which I find can happen with aged beers, but it drinks smooth and sweet. If you’re into bitter hops or pucker-inducing sour beers or rich chocolate stouts, this might not be your thing. But, if you’re open to a sweet beer, this should hit all the marks. Founders standard cherry beer, Cerise, was the first fruit beer I really enjoyed. I haven’t seen it in a few years, but if this is it’s replacement, I could learn to live with it just fine.

And now, for a conversational speed bump.

In preparing to write about specific beers, I frequently go to Beer Advocate and Ratebeer to see what their reviewers have to say. I don’t always agree, but it has given me some direction on occasion. This time, I made the rookie internet user mistake of reading the user reviews. Apparently, many people hate this beer. I’m not talking about a casual dislike, I mean apparent real anger. Of those who fall into this category, most take issue with the Frootwood’s sweetness. I find this…amusing.

You see, if a beer advertised itself as an intense American IPA flavored with a hint of real cherries, I would understand their issue. But Frootwood’s label clearly states that it’s a “a crisp, light-bodied cherry ale” that they aged “in oak barrels that have held both bourbon and maple syrup.” If you get angry with that combination for being sweet, you might as well get irked with hot sauce for being spicy. Livid with with lollipops for requiring licking. Apoplectic with sushi for tasting “fishy.” The problem isn’t with this delicious creation for being sweet, the problem is with people who don’t read the fucking label.

There. I’ve said my say. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pour myself another glass of dessert.

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