Beer Review 0145: Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Style Ale

It’s no secret that I review a lot of Founders beer on this website. The reason is simple: they make damn good stuff. And the reason why I’m choosing to review their Dirty Bastard Scotch Style Ale today is because I recently unearthed an interesting tidbit about the Grand Rapids, Michgan brewery.

See, when Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers founded the company in 1997, they were making merely average beers. Good beers, but standards — like most craft breweries when they first open, the offering tends to be a generic Pale Ale and Brown Ale. Founders were selling beer, but were quickly going bankrupt. A change had to happen, and that change had to be the following of the brewers heart; they had to start making beer THEY enjoyed, not that the masses would simply approve of.

So, if you’ve read any of my Founders reviews (particularly the Breakfast Stout review, which I gave a perfect score to), you already know this information. But here’s what I recently learned, courtesy of an awesome video interview the guys at Better Beer Authority captured with Stevens and Engbers (YouTube link) — Dirty Bastard was the beer that saved the company.

If a beer can save a company, especially a beer company, you have to review it, right?!

Dirty Bastard has year-round availability and is brewed with seven varieties of imported malts. Founders advertises a hop punch on the finish, and this brew weighs in at 8.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 50 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

Release from bottle produced a small head that quickly faded away to a thin cover. The beer is a cloudy, hazy beast, filled with particles and sediment. Founders never filters their beers, which accounts for how this one looks. The color of the liquid is a red-ruby with orange highlights, and the lacing was fairly sparse, with only thin sheets clinging to the glass.

The aroma featured a huge note of vanilla, coupled with a sweet caramel, and a hint of toffee. This one is doughy with a subtle suggestion of orange, almost like a Belgian Dark Ale. And the orange isn’t really hop orange, it’s just a very round, flat orange. While not complex, it is pleasant and keeps the nose entertained.

Taste-wise, there’s that sweet caramel up front, paired with sweet dark fruits and vanilla. This one almost has a cinnamon-like quality to it before turning slightly bitter on the finish, which rides a floral hop note, a dash of spice and smoke, and an almost oaky-alcohol kick that matches the somewhat gritty and foamy texture of the beverage. The finish lingers for quite a while, which indeed makes you want another sip.

For a Scotch Wee Heavy style beer, I found this exceptionally drinkable. This is yet another great beer from Founders, and no wonder this beer saved the company after a parade of just merely average brews.

Follow your heart! Lesson learned, indeed.

Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Style Ale, 90 points. Price: $1.99 for one twelve ounce bottle.


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