Trawling the notebook is bad enough without trying to find groups of beers you know you intended to review together. Thankfully, these two made themselves available right away.
Founders Curmudgeon catches my eye with ease in Bradley's. The old man on the label - probably the titular curmudgeon - and the stated use of molasses and oak ageing is enough to get my money.
At home, the beer is a surprisingly bright red. Unsurprisingly, the nose is a heady phenolic mix of syrup, molasses, sweet overripe fruit, macerated berries and glazed cherries. The aroma does approach the dreaded soupy heat, but at a very safe distance. Orange chocolate and vanilla become more apparent with time. The palate gets the full brunt of the toffee, with vanilla and chocolate following up. The body is slick and thick but carries with it a pleasantly sprite carbonation. With time, marzipan and treacle come forth, before an intense finish of burnt brown sugar.
It may sound messy, but don't take my word(s) for it; this is actually a quite subtle beer that is dominated by sweetness, but never overpowering. The slight heat and great depth of the malts might not be everyone's cup of tea (with good reason; this stuff is all too easy to get horribly wrong) but Curmudgeon gets it just about right.
Next is Founders Breakfast Stout. It is as black as they come and forms a dark tan/brown head that fizzles away to nothing in no time. The aroma is not as immediate and aggressive as the Curmudgeon, with dry coffee, chocolate and a slight tang of smoke creating a olfactory presence that is actually quite light, and even a little bit Irish. Sticky malts coat the mouth with toffee chocolate, raisins and figs, before everything crescendos in a substantial and lingering coffee-like bitterness. It's good and it beats the much lauded Mikkeler breakfast stout, but the same or less money could be spent on a more complex and invigorating strong stout.
Still, Founders' performance sustains its consistent high standard.