The Pacific Northwest is home to a rich craft brewing tradition, offering a wealth of world-class beers made both locally and available through distribution channels. While living there, I was spoiled. That being said, a beer geek cannot help but hear about beers available elsewhere and dream about the day he’ll get to try them. For myself, and I’m sure other west coasters, Founders Breakfast Stout is one of these forbidden fruits. As I drove across the country I had the chance to stop at Founders in Grand Rapids, MI and sample many of their fine beers. Alas, there was no Breakfast Stout to be had (at the time), but I knew once I hit NYC, I’d have ready access to this great brew.
Purchased: 9/6/12 at Key Foods in Park Slope, Brooklyn. $12.99 / 12 oz. 4 pack
Availability: Now through February in NYC (according to Founders’ website)
Bottle Date: 8/2/12
Alcohol: 8.3% ABV
Commercial Description from Website:
The coffee lover’s consummate beer. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, and Sumatra and Kona coffee, this stout has an intense fresh-roasted java nose topped with a frothy, cinnamon-colored head that goes forever.
Aroma: Sticking your nose into the glass is like walking through a great coffee roasting house. Strong aromas of cold pressed coffee leap from the glass. The coffee isn’t burnt or acrid, but rather smooth and nutty, with a light fruitiness (almost a tang), and a roast similar to a good dark chocolate. The oats come across toasted, almost like an oatmeal cookie. Cacao nibs meld nicely with the coffee, leaving an impression of chocolate covered espresso beans. Alcohol is present and becomes more so as the beer warms. 11 / 12
Appearance: Jet black with a slightly viscous pour. The head is composed of tiny bubbles which dissipate fairly quickly into a ring that alludes to the head that was once present. 2 / 3
Flavor: Bittersweet chocolate or cocoa is rounded out by a medium level of sweetness, which keeps it from being harsh. Some malt flavors of rich brown bread crust and toffee sit in the background, reminding you that this is still very much a beer. Coffee is apparent, but not nearly as heavy as the aroma would lead you to expect and is somewhat masked by the roasty chocolate notes. 17 / 20
Mouth Feel: Medium body that is considerably less heavy than many commercial imperial stouts. Oats give an almost oily impression in the mouth. There is a very firm hop bitterness that combines with roast to clean up the finish and give the impression of dryness. Bitterness leaves you wanting a little more body or residual sweetness for balance. 3 / 5
Overall Impression: As a coffee lover, I really enjoyed this beer. The coffee and chocolate components are well-integrated and meld nicely with the malt’s light toffee and toasty flavors. The bitterness could be dialed back a touch to leave the impression of a richer beer. The alcohol is very smooth with a hint of warming that reminds you you’re drinking a big beer. 8 / 10
Score: 41 / 50 (Outstanding)