REVIEW: Rubaeus from Founders Brewing Co.

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: Founders Brewing Co.
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Style: Fruit Beer
ABV: 5.7%
IBUs: 15
Appearance: Deep Red with Pinkish Foam
Aroma: Raspberries; Fruity Sweetness; Hints of Sourness
Flavor: Sweet Raspberries With a Slight Souring Toward the Swallow
Availability: Seasonal (May-Aug)
Pairs With: BBQ & Smoked Meats, Gouda, Rich Chocolate Desserts

The other day I suddenly realized being up in the Northeast brought with it the good luck of making Founders Beers available to me. I immediately headed for the nearest bottle shop to see which of their beers might grace local shelves. It happened there was more than I expected and it took me a while to select which would have the honor of being my introduction to the brewery. But, finally after much hemming and hawing it made sense to try the seasonal first, pay homage to the time of year, try something that wouldn’t be available in a couple months. So, it was the Rübæus found its place in my basket and became next in line for this review.

Founders Brewing Company is probably the best known brewery in Michigan. The brewery was started by Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers in 1997 as the Canal Street Brewing Company. The name was tribute to an area of Grand Rapids where, back in the 1800’s, several breweries made their home. The company’s original label was a black and white view of canal street with the word “Founders” above it. And so, it wasn’t a big leap to a name change for the burgeoning brewery.

“In-tribed five times was the raspy berry to twine a song of summers merry.”

Starting the brewery required a leap of faith on Mike and Dave’s part. They both only had homebrewing experience and “real” jobs. They made the leap. Quit their jobs, took out loans to cover start-up expenses, and went for it.

It took them some time to find their legs, but they finally did. They turned their backs on brewing well-balanced but unremarkable beer and refocused on what had made them want to brew beer in the first place… beer that they themselves got excited about. And low and behold it made other people excited too.

The Pour and Aroma

Rubaeus from Founders Brewing

Rübæus pours a deep red almost garnet color, like a deep red wine, and an oddly intriguing color for a beer. It’s a very satisfying complex color and speaks well for the beer. The foam is very soda like. A small, pink-tinged head builds, pushed and fed by high carbonation. It falls almost as quickly as it builds leaving a turbulent surface of fizzing and popping.

The nose is of fruit and little else. The raspberries showcase their usually subtle aromas well. An almost over-the-top round fruity sweetness prevails but light hints of sourness keeps it a little more interesting.

Mouthfeel and Taste

High carbonation prickles and fizzes at the front of the palate. The taste, like the aroma, shines the spotlight on the thimble-sized red berries added to this beer. But it is not a one dimensional hammer-blow of artificial sweet as many fruit beers are these days. It has depth. It holds interest in subtle complexity. The “fruitness” of the raspberries morphs pleasantly on its way across the palate. There’s a round sweetness mid-palate that changes into a slight souring toward the swallow. The malt is robust enough to show through all that berry sweetness adding its own touches and creating a rounder whole.

Finishing The Impression

This falls somewhere in the fruit beer middle ground for me. It’s still pretty sweet, but the complexity of the raspberry taste was both unexpected and very pleasant. The malt did much to carry this beer past that line where many other fruit beers stop dead. Add to this that it’s real raspberries added multiple times during the brewing process and you start to see why this beer, at the very least, surpasses other fruity offerings on the shelves.

It is definitely worth a try, especially to experience a fruit beer, that though it may not get it exactly right, is on the right track. I would have liked it more if it had been a little drier and, in my opinion, it wouldn’t have hurt anything if the malt had been an even bigger part of the show. So, not something I’d drink all the time or multiples of, but it is nicely revitalizing and works well for that first refreshment on a hot summer day.

Nick Carr

About Author

Nicoli Carr has been tinkering with homebrewing for over 10 years and is currently enrolled in the American Brewers Guild (CBA). When he’s not studying or working, he is likely out foraging wild brewing options, writing, or hunting stillness in remote places.

Comments

  1. Kim Kwapis says

    My husband and I tried rubauus at Bennethum’s Northern Inn in Gaylord, Mi. A favorite hang out that changes their tappers often with fine craft beers. We were pleasantly surprised! We are both hop heads, but like to try new flavors. We enjoyed it very much! Founders Reds Rye is a long time favorite. Love Michigan beer!

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