Beer Review: Founders Doom Imperial IPA

Doom is upon us, thanks to Founders Brewing.

photo by Kevin Gibson
photo by Kevin Gibson

A highly-anticipated early summer re-release, Doom Imperial IPA, aged in bourbon barrels, is exactly what it says it is, and never disappoints.

Interestingly, this brew actually has a history, first being served as a taproom-only feature, and then hitting shelves in 2013 as part of the brewery’s Backstage Series. Now it shares space in the Founder’s Barrel-Aged Series with stalwarts such as KBS.

“Imperial IPA and barrel-aging – two of our greatest strengths coming together to create the masterpiece we call Doom,” Founders co-founder and president, Dave Engbers, said. “This is a huge beer with a big attitude. We are so happy to bring this beer back for those who have been vocal in asking for its return and we look forward to introduce it to those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to try it.”

Pouring a beautiful, sparkling, dark copper color, the nose on this beer portends what is to come. Robust double IPA? Check. Bourbon and oak? Yep. And the first whiff sets up the story of what’s to come.

Now, I admit I was curious about this brew, because I’ve preached before about how too much time in a bourbon barrel can kill the base beer. But Founders hit this one on the head, because it really is the ideal meeting of two worlds. On the imperial IPA side, it boasts all the characteristics you look for: present malts, hop piney-ness, tropical notes.

But on the barrel-aged side, it pulls off the same feat, with hints of the oak, plus vanilla notes, perhaps a touch of butterscotch, and a hint of that familiar, warm bourbon finish that blends with the IPA bitterness on the back of the palate. It just works. Well.

Interestingly, the beer’s body is creamier than I expected, with just enough tingle from the carbonation. After several drinks, it coats the palate with a pleasant smoothness that contrasts with the warm finish, with a lingering sweetness that peeks through. There’s just a lot going on in this beer, and yet it’s always well-rounded and focused, drink after drink.

The description on the bottle nails it, calling Doom “a collision of worlds.” Now, that said, this is a very intense beer. It’s no accident that it checks in at 12.4 percent ABV. This one is a big-time sipper. Sit with it, enjoy it, ride the storm out. As Founders puts it, “Like all good things, Doom comes to those who wait.”

Doom will be available on draft, in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles and in 22-ounce bombers. Look for Founders to announce the last two releases in its Barrel-Aged Series later in the year.