To celebrate their 15th year in business, the folks at Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, have released a powerful barrel-aged barleywine called Bolt Cutter. “Dry-hopped with a mountain of Cascade hops,” says the brewery, “it’s balanced by a malty sweetness and spicy complexity, resulting from barrel aging some of it in bourbon barrels, some in maple syrup-bourbon barrels and some not at all.” This barreling scheme is similar to the one Founders used for their excellent 2009 Nemesis release, though that was a wheat wine. Bolt Cutter has been resting in bottles and kegs since July—a fine idea for a beer that’s 15 percent alcohol, which might otherwise be harsh and hot. It came out last month.

Founders president Mike Stevens explains that Bolt Cutter got its name from the brewery’s run-in with a bank in its early days. “We were defaulting on our loan,” he writes on the Founders blog. “The bank called and threatened to chain our doors shut if we didn’t come up with the money that we owed them. We had seven days to come up with half a million dollars.”

Vice president Dave Engbers bought a pair of bolt cutters, in case the bank followed through on its threat. “We were determined to keep our doors open and to keep brewing beer, no matter what it took,” he writes. “Luckily, we never had to use them.” He still keeps the bolt cutter in his office.

Philip Montoro

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.