Tuesday, December 13, 2011

499. Founders Nemesis 2010

Nemesis is a beer Founders makes once a year, and every year (well, all two thus far) it is different; as it says on the label, “every batch diabolically brewed to decimate ordinary-average-run-of-the-mill tasting beer.” Sounds about right for Founders. Make it big, make it meaty, make it for Michigan’s brutally long winter. How else do you end up with a 12% beer with 100 IBUs? How else indeed! Fittingly, this is our tenth beer from Founders, including Newaygo County Cherry, Devil Dancer, Pale Ale, KBS (as a bonus beer), Centennial IPA, Black Biscuit, Harvest Ale and Breakfast Stout.

Described on the label as “anti-establishment ale,” Nemesis 2010 pours a rich deep chocolate with ruby highlights; it is crystal clear, albeit dark, and has just the waftiest skiff of tan foam with miniscule almost invisible bubbles slowly climbing through the viscous fluid. And, not surprisingly with the 12% ABV, this beer has visible legs on the glass. The nose is interesting—there is a fair amount of caramel and molasses mixed with spiciness, dark fruit, and chocolate, which simultaneously works and doesn’t work. I’m leaning towards works right now, but I reserve the right to change my mind. As it warms, alcohol also becomes evident, although more as a floral accompaniment than as anything distracting. Flavors start soft and delicate on the tongue, with first the light caramel and dark fruit—raisin, fig, and cherry—followed by chocolate as it heads into the middle. There is also a fair amount of bitterness in the middle, but it has to work pretty hard to fight through the viscous fluid and heavier flavors, although the hops could be the source of the spiciness in the nose—either that, or some rye malt. Bitterness is also evident in the finish, coupled with a fair amount of caramel sweetness; the effect is very similar to the bigger, thicker DIPAs and Imperial IPAs, including the light alcohol warmth, but the residual chocolate and nutty flavors set it apart. The body is thick and chewy, but at the same time surprisingly clean—I expected more stickiness from this big a beer. My guess would be the lighter effects are created by wheat or rye in the body that couples with the slight warmth from the alcohol to brighten the whole. Further warmth produces some sherry-like fruit and alcohol flavors that bring further lightness to the palate, mostly in the middle and finish, but also in the nose. To be honest, Nemesis 2010 is both darker and better than I expected—there is balance and subtlety developing in this beer that will be even better in another couple of years.

From Ratebeer: “The 2010 release of Nemesis is best described by our brewing team as ‘a dark barley wine that pours black with a subtle mahogany hue. Brewed with 5 malts and no shortage of hops for a pleasantly bitter booming flavor. Roasty and toasty with a multitude of tastes that melts on your tongue.’”

ABV: 12%
IBU: 100


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