Sweet Repute 2013 (Founders Brewing Company)

Style: Wheatwine aged in Maple Bourbon Barrels and Bourbon Barrels

12.6% ABV

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Brewer’s note: “It’s not always a good thing when your reputation precedes you. But the complexity of this powerful wheat wine will give it a Sweet Repute no matter where, when or how your paths meet. Our brewing team painstakingly choreographed each layer of this beer’s characteristics, starting with a healthy wheat and roasted malt base and adding clean, fragrant hops. Its one-hundred percent barrel aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels and bourbon barrels over the course of sixteen months, then blended using carefully calculated ratios for the ultimate final product. The resulting 12.6% ABV liquid pours a bright warm russet with a stubborn ivory head and an intoxicatingly sweet nutty aroma. Take your time allowing the layers of flavors to unfold…Because it’ll only get better.”

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The beer’s label is an intricate painting of a mermaid/dancer, with bright expressive colors, and an eye catching graphic. The brewery logo is small, the font choices are neat and funky, and the text is minimal, making this bottle perfect for displaying on your shelf.

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The beer pours a gorgeously clear, golden amber color with hints of pink and ruby. The beer forms a small head that quickly works down into a scrim of off-white bubbles that are nearly tan. The bubbles cling to the glass and leave thin tendrils of lacing alongside pretty hefty alcoholic legs. In body, this beer is shockingly clear, especially given the barrel-aging, with some definite viscosity. The beer is bright and translucent in the light, with no floating particles and practically nothing in terms of haze. This beer looks like a lager!? On the nose, the booze and oak make themselves nicely present. Smooth oak and rich bourbon tango on the nose with touches of sticky maple syrup that are subtle, but also present. Coconut, toasted oak, stale bread, marshmallow, vanilla, and soft fusel alcohol waft across the nose along with just a hint of rubbing alcohol. There is even a light brininess to the nose, but oak and Buffalo Trace bourbon are the dominant notes on the nose. The smell is rich, but very subtle and doesn’t blend as nicely as I hoped. On the tongue, the beer tastes boozy sweet. An alcoholic heat tingles in the start of the sip and again as the beer flows down the throat. Sweet maple and wheat malt tango with tannic oak bitters and slight bready malt. The finish is rich booze and sweet malt. In flavor, the beer begins as vanilla, marshmallow and booze that then transitions into rich bourbon, much like (if not exactly the same as) the Buffalo Trace I drank last night. Touches of vanilla wafer, coconut, and praline also cross the palate. As it warms, caramel comes out along with maple syrup in the middle of the sip. The finish blends boozy bourbon with maple syrup and oak tannins, and is of a middling length, but leaves a long sweet booze feeling at the very back of the palate. In the mouth, the beer feels medium in body with a touch of weight at the finish. This beer is oddly smooth and light for its ABV. Carbonation is soft, and the mouthfeel is pure velvet and light syrup with a touch of rough alcohol that prickles at the beginning of the sip. The aftertaste is of stale bread, light nail polish, and praline with licks of maple syrup. The mouth is left with a sticky coat of booze and spittle with a hot tingle of alcohol.

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Overall, this beer is very hot with the bourbon character. Bourbon is the predominant flavor, and I kind of wish there was more of the maple syrup and less of the bourbon. As is, it reminds me of Buffalo Trace, malty beer, and a touch of oaky maple blended together. This Sweet Repute is a little over a month older than its release date, and from what I have read, its stepped off on its sweetness. This is still a sweet beer, but that sweetness is blended with all of the other flavors of bourbon and just a touch of maple. I also feel like the hot alcohol is starting to come out a little more in this beer, which is odd. You need to like bourbon to really appreciate this. The beer is rich and complex, but not my favorite from Founder’s barrel aging program. This is a great beer, but Founders has done better for me, and the wheatwine character is practically nonexistent here. A part of me says age a bottle for longer if you have one, but I also feel like the more delicate flavors in this beer are going to drop out pretty quickly, which will change it entirely. Right now, there is very little wheatwine character there to back up the rich bourbon and maple flavors. The choice is yours on aging.

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3.9/5

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