Review: Founders Sumatra Mountain Brown Ale

Review of Founders Sumatra Mountain Brown Ale from Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids, MI.

Beer Type: Imperial Brown Ale  ABV: 9.0%  IBUs: 40  Tried on draught.

Their Description: “This bold, imperial brown ale gets its body from a team of malts including Caramel malt for sweetness, flaked barley for dense foam, a bit of Chocolate malt for its deep color and Aromatic and Munich malts to add even more depth. German and Perle hops add a touch of bitterness to balance the malty sweetness. The addition of rich Sumatra coffee takes this perfectly balanced imperial brown ale to a decadent level.”

The Reality: Dark brown color with a strong scent of coffee and malt. The flavor is malt forward with a medium caramel sweetness that is followed by smooth, slightly bitter roasted coffee notes. The finish and aftertaste are pleasantly bittersweet and this beer has a rich thick mouthfeel. The malt is as big a player in the flavor as the coffee, which creates a nice balance. Whether or not this beer reaches a “decadent level”, I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

Final Verdict: Someone finally figured out that if you take one of the maltiest incarnations of beer (the brown ale) and add coffee it creates a well-rounded flavor profile. A nice Yin and Yang of sweet and bitter. Founders wasn’t the first one to come up with this, but they did do a damn good job making it. Plus, they did make it an Imperial Brown, which was a really nice touch, as the booziness keeps the beer from being too heavy and robust. You don’t taste the high ABV, per se, but it thins the beer out just enough, leaving you with a lovely smooth sipper of a beer. It’s a beer that can put you to sleep and wake you up at the same time, not unlike watching a roller derby set to the music of James Taylor or a going to a bullfight where Jeb Bush is the matador.