As you may recall, this is our second run-in with a big bottle from Founders Brewing Company. The first, also part of their highly sought after Backstage Series, was the strange, sort of one-note hazelnut bomb Frangelic Mountain Brown, which has come to be viewed as the biggest (and only) disappointment in the series so far. They're getting right back on the horse, though, with their newest installment, Bolt Cutter.
Brewed in celebration of Founders' 15th anniversary, Bolt Cutter is a 15% ABV barley wine featuring an interesting blend: some of it was aged in bourbon barrels, some of it was aged in maple-syrup and bourbon barrels, while the rest of it only went through standard fermentation. Once combined, the beer was heavily dry-hopped with Cascade hops, bottled, and then allowed to age for six months before being released to the public a couple weeks ago.
Poured from its 750ml (25oz) bottle, Bolt Cutter is amber in color with a surprisingly substantial, rocky head of foam that seemed to have an almost yellowish tint. The most striking thing about the beer, noticeably immediately upon opening it, is the amount of pineapple in its aroma. It's there in the taste, too, but it's immediately, brilliantly complimented by notes of vanilla and tons of butterscotch. For a 15% beer, it's remarkably drinkable, with almost no alcohol burn to speak of, though it's certainly on the thick and sticky side, as far as mouthfeel. As the beer warms, the bright hoppiness becomes less prominent, taking a backseat to the darker, richer qualities, and this may be sacrilege of sorts, but I actually preferred it a little on the colder side.
Like all the other beers in the Backstage Series, Bolt Cutter was released in extremely limited quantities and will set you back anywhere between $25 and $30. It's absurd, sorta, but if you can force yourself to look at it as a one-time splurge on something that actually drinks more like a bottle of wine, it seems at least slightly more reasonable. Also, consider making it a two-time splurge: this one's going to change considerably as it ages.