24 March 2011
KOTBR #123 | It's a Family Affair - Founders Nemesis 2010
We like Barley Island's Broad Ripple location for a variety of reasons. Obviously, the great tap list is one. Then there are the Wednesday night guest brewery tappings, such as the Founders tapping we attended a few weeks ago. And finally, we can bring the kids with us. When we have the kids along, a KOTBR roundtable truly becomes like one of those big holiday family gatherings--everyone is together dining, laughing, drinking, and watching the kids play. But you know, family gatherings also bring the inevitable squabble, and the KOTBR is no exception to this phenomenon. So, for example, Jason may say something snide about the St. Louis Cardinals, and all hell breaks loose as arguments ensue between the Cub and Cardinal factions of the family (and don't get us started on Chris, who for whatever reason is a fan of the Sons of Satan).
I haven't followed baseball since 1994 and don't really have a stake in such arguments. But my point about our roundtables being family-like is definitely true, even when the kids aren't around (though we love having them around). Roundtabling is our favorite HBG activity, often because it gives us an opportunity to catch up on one another's lives, which does not happen when we're running craft beer events because we're too busy. So here's an inside look at a KOTBR family gathering--
Perhaps the best thing about family is that each member has his or her own style. The same applies to the Nemesis family from Founders. The 2009 Nemesis was a Wheat Wine aged in Maple Bourbon barrels, and the 2010 Nemesis is a Black Barleywine.
In this case, we got acquainted with the 2010 version at Barley Island. Nemesis '10 has a sublimely sweet chocolate nose with a stinging heat. It has quite a bit of heat in the flavor along with some rich, dark fruit and caramel maltiness. Yet it remains smooth enough to drink. If this beer were a family member, it would be that trouble-making but really fun cousin who always has some inside information.
You know it's going to be trouble, but you can't help but indulge. 3.50 Mugs.
You might think that over the course of writing 100-some beer reviews, that eventually the process would get easier. Sometimes it is - some beers are immediately familiar, and the words put themselves down on the page. Founder's Nemesis isn't like that. I got a stinging sweetness - a grape tootsie pop sort of pop - right off the front. Gina got smooth caramel, as did I. But I also got a whole mouth bitterness that she didn't. Chocolate, caramel, bitter... they're all in there, but I don't think they sum up the beer.
What I do know is that I liked it, but I thought it could (still) use more age. I'm sure a little time would reveal even more complexity. 3.96 Mugs.
The biggest nemesis that I face these days is time. Between work, home, and play, I’m left with little time each day. That’s why I’m always happy to combine activities. For example: home and play. When it was suggested that HBG hit Barley Island’s Broad Ripple restaurant for the Founders tappings, I thought “Hey, Barley Island has family dining…I can hang with the Knights of the Beer Roundtable and bring my family! It’s a win/win!”
And no, I have no problem with drinking in front of my kids. Drinking isn’t evil (the naysayers are another nemesis) and I have the goal of demonstrating to my children that responsible drinking behaviors are very achievable.
Also, it was a Wednesday, which is a “kids eat free” day. A light wallet is another nemesis.
So it ended up being a great evening of family and friends, fine food (the spinach melt sandwich and deep fried mushrooms are fantastic), and a wonderful selection of beers for consumption (including Barley Island’s Whose Ear? and Three Floyds' Brian Boru).
But Founders is the guest brewery of the month, and a Founders beer is what we reviewed. If you haven’t guessed yet, we reviewed Nemesis's 2010 version. I like barleywines. And this one is no exception. Maybe it is because we have so much in common. Much like me, it is big and boozy (no explanation needed). Much like me, it has a hint of sweetness (brown sugar in the beer; I’m more of a white sugar). Much like me, it had a thin head (I’m with little hair on top). And much like me, there are hints of dark fruit (I guess I’m more nutty than fruity; I’m sure some will argue the point).
Where I differ from Nemesis: it has a hint of Belgium, and I’m mostly German and Danish; and it is dark bronze, where I alternate between sunburned and white-as-snow (what can I say, I have some strong redneck roots; yet another personal nemesis). 4.20 Mugs.
Take a deep breath and remember the facts.
You know these ginormous rare beers are put up on a pedestal. You know they're a mixed bag. You know that, at best, this will be a great beer that's probably too young and too hot. You know that none of these facts matter and, when something like this goes on tap at your favorite family-friendly brewpub in town, you'll be there.
Well whaddaya know, Nemesis nails it: a mixed-bag-ginormous-expectations-too-hot-DOES-NOT-MATTER-I-still-like-it beer. In a way, big rare beers like Nemesis are just like any great family gathering. It won't always be perfect, but you should expect the unexpected and you're damn sure gonna have a good time.
Everyone else has already gone over the flavors in the beer so I won't belabor that. Suffice it to say, I'm glad I've got a bottle of this to age at home because I think it's only going to get better with some time. 4.10 Mugs.
Founders Nemesis 2010
Jason: 4.20 Mugs | Jim: 3.90 Mugs | Mike: 3.96 Mugs | Gina: 3.50 Mugs | Chris: 4.10 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.93 Mugs