Aged 2008 Founders Breakfast Stout: The Wow Factor

October 06 2011 - 4:17 PM

Bottle_breakfast-stout With all the fanfare this week surrounding the recent first-ever release of Founders Brewing's Canadian Breakfast Stout (good luck finding any), the beer that provides the foundation for the "CBS" and its celebrated cousin, Kentucky Breakfast Stout, has gone unheralded.  To wit, I am talking about Founders Breakfast Stout; you know, the one that you can actually find somewhere, and not have to trade a bourbon barreled Angel's Share to get it. 

Barrel aging is all the rage these days, particularly with stouts, and the base stouts feel neglected.  Ask any Goose Island fan if they'd like a Nightstalker and you might not get a pulse.  Yet they'll crash through walls for the Bourbon County line.  Founders Breakfast Stout has been similarly shunned; you don't hear beer lovers discuss this beer with great passion. Even I have overlooked it on beer menus even though we should all feel blessed to have it show up on tap and in bottles every fall.

I'm here to renew your interest or perhaps pique it.   Recently, Lush Wine Store unveiled some 2008 Breakfast Stouts that it had been sitting on, aging in a basement.  Not having previously had a Breakfast Stout older than a current release, I felt it imperative to try one of these. I am glad I did.

What I found was breathtaking.  Breakfast stout is brewed with oatmeal, coffee, chocolate, and a boatload of hops.  A virgin batch has a sharp bite from this java and hop overload. Oh, what 3 years of sedentary life does to an imperial beer.   Protected by 9 percent ABV, the 3 year Breakfast Stout forged into a beautiful potion.  The harsher elements of the hops and coffee dissipate into the ether, and their residue combines with the heap of chocolate and residual sugars to create a dark pool smelling of roasted nuts and ground coffee beans, that tastes of bitter chocolate, toffee, roasted chestnuts, smoke, and mouthwatering goodness.  It is remarkable, seamless, and absolutely decadent:  the equivalent of eating a melted bitter chocolate bar.

This experience has reinvigorated my interest in Breakfast Stout and made me rethink the concept of evaluating beers in general.  This is an elite stout and one of the absolute best non-barrel aged iterations of an imperial stout out there.  I implore you to try and snag one of Lush's remaining bottles.  At a minimum, buy some Breakfast Stout and sit on it for a couple of years.  Look me up in 2013 or so and offer me a thank you bottle of it. 

–Mark Sheppard