The second largest city in Michigan harbors a deep and lengthy history of making furniture; as home to five of the biggest furniture companies in the world, it boasts the nickname Furniture City. More recently, Grand Rapids has been dubbed Beer City USA, a name well earned for its strength in brewing, from nationally known brand such as Founders Brewing Company to recently ressurected names flush with history, like the Grand Rapids Brewing Company.
In a celebration of both its storied roots as well as its bright future, the Founders Brewing Company has elected to brew a special brown ale called Furniture City Stock Ale. Found typically in stores only around the Grand Rapids area as well as the Founders taproom, this beer runs cheaper than most bombers of Founders beer. Additionally, the profits from the sales of this beer go to the Grand Rapids Public Museum. I drink, and a museum gets money: everybody wins!
For those of you who want me to shut up and describe the beer, fine. It's a fairly standard brown ale, a solid product that is neither experimental nor boring. This color is what you'd expect; it's a deep, almost ruby tinted tan that only mildly inhibits light going through it. The aroma might not be what you'd expect, however; this is no sweet brown. The six roasted malts give the beer a dry smell, like rich sawdust.
Mouthfeel for the Furniture City Stock Ale is surprisingly smooth without being watery. I often complain about brown ales being thinner than expected, but the Stock Ale holds up well without being thick like a sweet stout. It helps that the beer follows through on its aroma by being surprisingly dry. The combination of malts gives the beer a robust taste that is neither too aggressive nor boring. Would you roll your eyes if I compared it to the conservative yet well made furniture that comes out of this city? It's an apt analogy.
Founders really did capture the essence of Furniture city in a bottle. No, it doesn't taste like caustic chemicals or the outside of Steelcase. But the beer has a comfortable, well worn feel to it. Founders Furniture City Stock Ale pleases without astonishing, and soothes without boring the imbiber. If you can find it, it's well worth the reasonable entry cost.