As we wind down the most successful year in Drunkspin's long and storied history of being your no. 1 source for under-informed beer reviews and gratuitous Yuengling hatred, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and, at the same time, apologize for violating your trust.
After 18 months of living this lie to death, the time has come to admit that Drunkspin is not a wholly independent—i.e., reputable, just, and pure—operation. In fact, I don't own a single percent of it. I report to a long series of shadowy characters that culminates in something called a Denton. This Denton is at least somewhat British; enough so that his first name is Nick, but not so much so that he has claimed Drunkspin for the crown. I believe his Gawker Media empire is based both in New York City and, for some reason that certainly isn't the least bit shady, Hungary.
I write all of these columns myself, and have carte-almost-blanche to blather in whichever direction I choose, but I'm not ultimately in charge of anything. In fact, when I get fired this afternoon for leaking company secrets, I won't even be able to take the "Drunkspin" name with me. That's Gawker Media's. When I resurrect this feature on my Facebook page or the poor-house's bathroom walls, I'll need to call it DrunkWill, and even that will be a lie, because I won't be able to afford beer once I'm forcibly removed from the teat of my foreign-born overlord.
As I was saying, Michigan's outstanding Founders Brewing sold a 30 percent stake to Spanish brewing outfit Mahou San Miguel yesterday, and who gives a shit? Until we get evidence to the contrary, I'm going to trust them to keep pumping out the same great beer they've been making in Grand Rapids since 1997.
Why do certain joyless people fetishize the back-office maneuverings of American breweries? I get that we don't want them all gobbled up by shitty Anheueser-Busch (although, so far at least, that hasn't hurt Goose Island nearly as much as we'd feared), but what's the harm in selling a minority stake to a large, overseas beer company that can help with distribution efficiency abroad and provide capital to ramp up production at home? Boulevard went that route last year when they got in bed with Duvel, and the stock-swapping between a Kansas City millionaire and a Belgian millionaire didn't prevent Boulevard from producing some of the most outstanding beers of 2014. And those out-selling motherfuckers are making a rose-petal saison next year!
Beer is a business, but drinking is a pleasure, and the vast majority of us are lucky enough to be in this game for the fun part. This is why I'm going to continue to drink as much Founders beer as I can get my paid-to-type-for-a-British-dude hands on. In fact, there is a good chance that this afternoon will find me waiting in line for Meadhall in Cambridge to open so I can get a crack at the Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout they're pouring as part of their annual Toys for Tots fundraiser. (See you there: I'll be the guy who looks like a beer blogger but minus the beard and plus the flask of brandy.)
Which brings us to today's main event: the unveiling of Drunkspin's coveted Bastard of the Year award. I've enjoyed many a bastard beer this year, most of them from Stone: Arrogant, Oaked Arrogant, Lukcy, and Double. All were good, and Lukcy was great. But the Bastard of the Year is Founders Backwoods Bastard, a bourbon-barrel-aged Scotch ale that ranks among the finest beers I've had all year, even when you include the ones from unbroken homes.
This 10.2 percent alcohol-by-volume beast opens with a fantastic aroma of deep caramel and vanilla, along with toasted coconut and maple syrup. It tastes like it smells, with a nice dark grape/raisin flavor coming in halfway through and a smoky bacon hint emerging as it warms in the glass. It's very smooth for such a big beer, with the only real alcohol notes presenting themselves in a welcoming Cognac sort of way.
I don't think the new details of Founders' ownership situation are going to affect the average drinker, which is why I'm optimistic that next year's Backwoods Bastard will be just as good as this one. Circumstances change, but that doesn't mean the beer has to; I hope it doesn't in this case, because Founders Backwoods Bastard is one of my favorite things.
This is Drunkspin Daily, the Concourse's adequate source for booze news, reviews, and bullshit. We'll be highlighting a beer a day in this space; please leave suggestions below.
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and some of his closest friends have met Certified Cicerones. Find him on Twitter @WillGordonAgain. Image by Jim Cooke.
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