Tasting: November 7, 2011
Founders annual and seasonal releases fly off shelves – that is if they even make it to the shelves. Demand for their annual and seasonal beer is so crazy that I’ve heard of people stalking beer trucks on Founders delivery days. I was somewhat happy to hear that they’ve just christened a brand new brewing facility. But, it makes me wonder what increased productivity will do to their legend. Do the hype, scarcity and quality extend the mystic — or will better availability damage that legend? As Craig said to me yesterday, he was on a diet that allowed him to eat bacon and eggs everyday. After a couple of weeks, he wasn’t interested in bacon and eggs anymore. I’d argue that instead of simply increasing output of certain brands – Founders would be better served with a wider line of these limited editions as well as a marginal increase in productivity to keep enough in the hands of their faithful following. It’s an interesting lesson in supply and demand economics.
For now, I’ll just stick to the latest in the string of Founders legend – Canadian Breakfast Stout. But in order to do that, I’ll have to take a couple steps back to give you an overview of the breakfast stout series.
Breakfast Stout is purported by many to be the base ingredient to both Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) and Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS). According to what I’ve read, Founders denies that claim. I agree — CBS and KBS remind me more of their Imperial Stout offering — than this stout. The term breakfastcomes from their use of oats and coffee as featured ingredients. It is a seasonal offering by Founders and is fairly available at decent stores between November and February. Read my review of Founders Breakfast Stout HERE .
Kentucky Breakfast Stout is an annual stout that is aged in bourbon barrels. It is scarcely available in March. To date, this is my second ranked beer at 97 points. Read my review HERE.
Now this takes us to the main event — Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS). CBS began as an experimental brew that made appearances at Founders own brew pub and at special tasting events. Reviews on websites like Beer Advocate and Rate Beer began the buzz that stoked a desire in every KBS lover, myself included. The hysteria even caused Founders to issue a statement on how CBS was rationed by state. What made this stout so interesting was that the label described it as an ale brewed with chocolate and aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels. I found that odd — was it two different barrel agings? A quick read online and I discover that there are maple syrup manufacturers that are aging their syrup in bourbon barrels as well. So, it appears that Founders is brewing this stout in a third generation barrel (first bourbon, then syrup, then stout). It checks in at a solid 10.6% ABV.
The Cloverleaf in Caldwell tweeted that they were going to tap a sixtle (1/6 keg) on Monday, November 7th at 5 pm sharp. I arrived at 3 pm sharp. Had a couple of warm ups (Harvest Ale and Backwoods Bastard) – and waited patiently. They poured everything that they had by 5:16. Not much difference in the appearance from KBS – but the taste was out of sight. Really rich and sweet. No issue tagging this as having maple syrup influence. To me, it was almost too sweet and overpowered that beautiful wood and vanilla that I enjoy in KBS. However, as I worked my way down those familiar flavors returned. This is definitely world class – and I will nudge it past KBS at 98 points – but if push comes to shove – I could still make a case for KBS to be slightly ahead.