Bolt Cutter: 15th Anniversary Barley Wine

Update: As of 11/7/12 at 11:27am, all of the tickets for the Bolt Cutter release in our taproom have been sold.


Today we are officially announcing the release of Bolt Cutter, a 15% ABV barley wine brewed in celebration of our 15th anniversary and the next release in our Backstage Series. The beer will be available in our taproom through a ticketed release system November 11 through 16 and in stores November 19. Tickets for the taproom release go on sale online at Brown Paper Tickets beginning Saturday, October 6, at 11am.

Bolt Cutter is a cellarable barley wine with an ABV of 15%. Dry-hopped with a mountain of Cascade hops, 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 (standard fermentation only). We’ve allowed the beer to mature in bottles and kegs since July so that it would be perfect for its release next month. Bolt Cutter pours a deep copper color and is best sampled at different temperatures to allow the flavors to unfold.

Bolt Cutter bottle shot

And there’s a story behind the name.

“Years ago,” says Co-Founder, President & CEO Mike Stevens, “when our brewery was located on Monroe, we were defaulting on our loan. Eventually, 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.”

“So I bought a pair of bolt cutters,” says Co-Founder, Vice President of Brand & Education Dave Engbers. “We were determined to keep our doors open and to keep brewing beer, no matter what it took. Luckily, we never had to use them.”

Engbers keeps the bolt cutters in his office as a reminder of how far we’ve come and the journey we’ve taken since brewing our first beer in November 1997.

To thank all of you in West Michigan and beyond for your years of support, we are throwing a free anniversary party on November 17 in our taproom. We hope to see you here so that we can all celebrate together.

Comments are now closed.
20 Comments on “Bolt Cutter: 15th Anniversary Barley Wine”
  1. Charles Culliton

    CT distribution?

    • Sarah

      Yes, a limited quantity.

  2. John

    Ohio = 🙁

  3. Ben Benedict

    Hey!! Thank you guys for answering all my questions!! I just want to know if you guys knew who will be distributing bolt cutter to Dekalb, IL? we always get stiffed when it comes to your limited release yet a lot of people here buy out all your year-round beers! Last time for crumudgen’s better half we got a case for a town of over 30k can you guys please talk to you’re distributors and please make sure we get a fair about this time? I would really really appreciate it!

    • Sarah

      This beer is going to be released in very limited quantities, and once it leaves our warehouse, it is in the hands of our distributors to allocate–we have no control over that, legally. Driving into Chicago might give you more options. Our distributor in the greater Chicago area is Louis Glunz Beers.

  4. Brian D

    What an amazing story! Thank you Founders for all of your contributions to West Michigan and to helping Grand Rapids become one of the best beer cities in the world. Following your dream and not letting anyone or any bank get in the way. As far as the limited quantities, hopefully with sites like eBay cracking down on people purchasing and upcharging the average person who just wants to try rare beers helps with the availability.

  5. Max

    Any idea on the number of cases that will hit distribution?

  6. Andrew Hicks

    Any release to KS or MO?! We love you guys here!!!

    • Sarah

      We do distribute in MO, but we are not in KS yet. This beer will be distributed across our footprint, including MO, in limited quantities.

  7. Aram

    I bought a release ticket for Sunday the 11th, as I am planning to be at Breakfast Stout Breakfast and staying in GR that night. If I was not able to make it up to GR from Indiana that weekend, can the ticket be given to someone else that is going to buy my bottles for me? I in no way am trying to sell my ticket on Ebay or the like. I just really want to try this beer!

    • Sarah

      The ticket you bought is connected to the name you supplied when purchasing, and we will be using names on ID to verify that the ticket purchaser is the one who picks up the beer. So no, you won’t be able to have somebody else pick up the beer for you–you will need to pick it up yourself. We understand that not everybody wants to sell their tickets on eBay or the like, but this is our way of protecting against that. We hope you’re able to make the trip to Grand Rapids! Cheers!

  8. Eric

    Great job guys with the ticket sale. I think the way you handing this release is perfect.

  9. Brian


    See you all up there on Sunday the 11th, looking forward to it. the one thing I have a question on is how it was decided to do the bottle release before the party. The reason I ask is because in making the trip I was hoping to have some Bolt Cutter on tap, and with the Anniversary Party not being until the following weekend, I assume that is not a possibility. Another suggestion I will make is that when ordering the ticket it would make sense if you can order more than one at a time, but still keep each ticket tied to someone. It worked out, but it would have been bad news if I got a ticket, but had to restart the process to get my wife a ticket as well.

    Is it safe to assume that a process similar to this will be used for KBS? The downfall for an out of towner is making two trips for bottles of beer, and another trip for the actual event. No system is perfect, hope this works out well.


    • Sarah

      Hi Brian,

      Thank you so much for the feedback. We decided to run the bottle release before the Anniversary Party to try to alleviate some of our taproom capacity issues that we’ve run into in the past, including with the KBS release this past March. However, we had the bottle release run up to the day before the party (Friday, November 16) so that people traveling into town could pick up their bottles on Friday and perhaps make a weekend of it.

      We appreciate your comments. This is our first time using this process, and we’re still learning. The system that we use for the KBS release is yet to be determined, though we will use what we learn from this experience to influence how that release runs.



  10. Double D

    Diamond tells me this story to put me to sleep at bedtime on Maddog fishing trips
    we had a bootle last weekend GOOD STUFF

  11. Dr.O'Boogie

    Having it run all week is nice. We bought tickets for the Sunday and will be making a weekend of it the weekend previous to the big Anniversary party. Any chance there will be anything special on tap this weekend, or is everything being saved for the Anniversary Party? Class 3 has been dry for awhile now.
    Also, ticket purchasing was very easy. I will gladly pay a small donation like that to ensure success at a beer release. And if for some reason I could not make it (illness), it’s only $5. Not a huge loss. Only thing I would consider if it is a week long release, is making the party two weekends. Wish I would get to try Boltcutter on tap on the initial bottle buy, but I knew that wasn’t happening when I bought the ticket,so I cannot complain.

    • Sarah

      Thanks for the feedback! We’re glad that this new system worked out for you and will take your comments into account.

      And we always have special things on tap in our taproom–just because they’re not Class 3 doesn’t mean they aren’t special. Right now we have 5 beers on our tap list that are only available in our taproom (6 if you count Furniture City Stock Ale, though bottles are being sold throughout West Michigan).

  12. Brian

    I was expecting the tickets to sell out within minutes and am shocked that these are still available now. I’m wondering if eBay cracking down on online sales of beer has really made a huge difference. Awesome and can’t wait for next month.

  13. Hello, looking forward to tasting this BW; what size bottle will it be offered in?

    • Sarah

      It will be in a 750mL bottle.

Are you over 21?

You don’t need to be 21 to check out our Careers.