In July 2011, Founders Brewing Company began a series of beers that have given their brewers license to have fun and experiment, a brewers’ playground if you will. The intent of this series is to take the diehard Founders fan experience to a wider audience — though all of the beers are released in limited batches.
Since its introduction, Founders’ Backstage Series beers have quickly become some of the most sought-after releases by craft beer enthusiasts. Previous releases include Blushing Monk (Belgian raspberry style ale, 9.2 percent ABV) which has been released twice in the series, CBS (imperial coffee chocolate stout aged in maple bourbon barrels, 10.6% ABV), and Curmudgeon’s Better Half (old ale brewed with molasses, then aged oak, 11.9 percent ABV) just to name a few.
Black IPAs have been a staple of an annual tradition at Founders Brewing Co. – the Black Party – a celebration of experimental dark beers. Project PAM was born out of this tradition and is the third Backstage release of 2015; a Black IPA whose hop combinations and malts have been perfected and balanced over several years. This beer is brewed with a cornucopia of hops including Chinook, Nugget, Centennial, Amarillo, El Dorado and Mosaic, balanced with Crystal and Midnight Wheat malts, then aged in maple-bourbon barrels.
Following that will be a beer from Project PAM.
“Project PAM refers to the code name we used in the cellar.” explains the head of the brewery’s barrel-aging program, Jason Heystek. “As with a lot of our barrel-aged beers, each one gets a code name to keep things fun and maintain some mystery. With Project PAM, the maple-bourbon barrels provide sweetness to keep the hop bitterness in check, but also impart the flavor complexity of an oak bourbon barrel.”
Founders ranks among the top 20 largest craft breweries in the U.S. and is one of the fastest growing. They have received numerous awards from the World Beer Cup and The Great American Beer Festival, and RateBeer and BeerAdvocate users often rate its beers among the best in the world. When I think of Founders, I think of complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics and tons of flavor. Most Founders beers in distribution make it to Michiana and last week several cases of Backwoods Bastard (wee heavy aged in oak bourbon barrels, 11.6% ABV, IBUs 50) hit our area. This is one of my favorite Founders beers and it is released only once a year.
In the past Backstage Series beers have appeared in Michiana in both bottle and draft. I expect the same will be true with Project PAM. Begin looking for the 750 ml bottles across Michiana later this month and check out your local bar for a chance to enjoy it on draft.