Founders Brewing taps next Backstage Series beer


Smoked Porter is part of the experimental Backstage Series by Grand Rapids-based Founders Brewing Co. Photo via

Despite being one of the nation’s leaders in craft beer innovation, there still are firsts for Founders Brewing Co.

Smoked Porter

The Grand Rapids-based brewery said yesterday that it will release a Smoked Porter as its next Backstage Series brew.

The Backstage Series was started in 2011 to bring a limited supply of Founders’ most “sought after and experimental taproom beers to a much larger audience,” according to its website. The beers “may or may not ever be brewed again.”

The aptly named Smoked Porter will be released in February in bottles and draft across Michigan and draft only across most of the company’s distribution network.

Smoked Porter was made with beech wood-smoked barley and oak-smoked wheat malt — with plenty of chocolate malt.

Founders referred to the Smoked Porter as a surprise: “We weren’t planning on this one,” according to its Facebook page.

Smoked Porter will not be a ticketed release.

Two more Backstage beers are expected in 2014.

Pilot system

Founders' new three-barrel pilot system allowed it to figure out an adequate recipe for Smoked Porter.

“This is a style of beer that we’ve discussed brewing for a decade,” said Founders Co-Founder and Vice President of Brand & Education Dave Engbers. “We weren’t able to fit it into our production schedule for years.

“Now, with our pilot system, our brewers have room for greater experimentation and aggressive recipe formulation. Brewing beers like this was the idea behind launching our Backstage Series and was a driving force in our investment in a pilot system this past summer.”

A tap in the taproom is now dedicated to the pilot system, only pouring small-batch experimental beers.

The recent offerings from the system include Founders’ first lager in 12 years. 

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