Winter is definitely retreating. With still a few days remaining before it’s officially spring, I’m already riding in short-sleeves with summer base-layers. I have mowed once and the grass is growing so quickly that I better make some time for doing it again this weekend. But before the calendar says winter is over, I’m going to tell you about the beer that is the most memorable of the new beers I tried over the winter season.
Founders Brewing’s Project PAM is a fantastic beer! It’s labeled as a Black IPA, but the barrel aging and high ABV make it drink like a much bigger beer. Blind-tasting, I would probably categorize it as a barrel-aged barleywine. The hops are assertive in the finish, but this beer is greatly influenced by the maple syrup bourbon barrels.
After taking some time to admire the contrast of the thick, tan head atop its onyx perch, prepare yourself for an onslaught from the aroma and flavor. The nose immediately is delighted by heavy bourbon, vanilla, and maple. There are also notes of dark fruits and black cherries. In addition, you’ll detect a touch of oakiness as well as a coconut sweetness.
The first thing you’ll notice as you sip this beer is how thick it is. The viscous liquid coats the tongue and helps assure that no flavor is missed. Coconut and maple sweetness is upfront with a chocolate undertone; a combination that reminds me of a local BBQ joint’s macaroons. The maple builds down the middle of the tongue as a transition to the bourbon influence. The bourbon barrel aging results in an oaky, alcohol flavor and burn. The alcohol burn is accentuated by a hop bitterness. This bitter/burn combo fades back to oakiness in the aftertaste with some lingering hop bite and just a hint of dark cherry.
Available in bomber bottles and coming in at 10.8%, this is definitely a beer for sharing off the trails. It would pair perfectly with those aforementioned macaroons or tiramisu. It would also go fantastic with German Chocolate cake or other rich, chocolate desserts. But being such a solid beer, I feel it’s best to be enjoyed as a stand-alone and fully appreciated for its complexity.
So if winter has yet to release its grip on your part of the world, this is definitely a great choice for enjoying on a cold evening. But even if it’s already sunny patio weather, Founders Brewing’s Project PAM is a mighty fine choice for that as well.
Bikepacking Friendliness (not rated)
Aroma (a plethora of sweet and pleasing scents)….9/10
Flavor (thick, rich, and complex)…10/10
Style-Appropriateness (the big ABV and barrel aging masks the typical Black IPA flavors)…7/10
Alex writes a beer review every other Friday. Two weeks ago he reviewed the Sierra Nevadas Beer Camp Tropical IPA