Friday’s visit to the beloved MBS held a nice surprise. The discussion that Gail had with the beer sales guy last week paid off this week. She had asked me what would I recommend and I picked out two different beers. She ordered them.
I was pacing the craft beer aisle when the Handsome Young Guy approached and said, “Hey, those new beers came in.” With two hands, he pointed to two different positions on the shelf, now occupied by their new tenants. Glorioski! There they were. The first choice of a breakfast stout came in only a four-pack but with a hefty price tag of over 11 Illini-bucks. Geez. It was Founders Breakfast Stout brewed by Founders Brewing Company (no apostrophe) out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.and the front label toted, “Double chocolate coffee oatmeal stout.” Yep. That was breakfast alright. Oatmeal, chocolate and coffee. Only things missing were eggs, bacon and toast.
Two small numbers were printed on either side of the Founders logo on the neck label. On the left it said, “60 IBU’s” with the inappropriate apostrophe. On the right was “8.3% ALC BY VOL.” Well. This should make things quite interesting. I grabbed the foursome and dug deeper into my pocket. I grabbed the other newbie as well and will save it for a future review.
Saturday came with the seasonally cold weather and temps just cresting 20°. I’m sure that the entire United States of America is sick of winter. I for one, am lusting for the next time that I can plant my keister on the seat of that Suzuki Intruder which is freezing out in the Manly Garage. But I digress. By now it was after dinner, so how about some breakfast?
I grabbed the first stoutfast beer and the RB recommended vessel to contain it and popped the top. No twist-off here. The bottles were rather squatty, shorter than normal necked bottles but still containing 12 ounces of goodness. The labels on these Founders’ beers depicted a toddler with a rather large bib holding a spoon to its mouth in one hand and a bowl in the other.
From Founders’ website I found that this beer is classified under Seasonal, with this to say about it:
The coffee lovers consummate beer. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, Sumatra and Kona coffee, this stout has an intense fresh roasted java nose topped with a cinnamon colored frothy head that goes forever.
Now here’s where my expertise, or lack thereof, comes into play. I wondered if I would be able to discern the oatmeal flavor in this beer. I do know what coffee and chocolate taste like, but the Sumatran and Konan (?) coffees will elude me altogether. Hell, I’ve never even been to a Starbucks! And I’m absolutely sure that the cinnamon will be completely buried in the overall taste.
The beer poured looking almost like spent motor oil. Really, really dark brown, The head came up to about a half-inch of dark chocolatey goodness and slowly dissipated. Looking into the glass contents revealed nothing, even when held up next to the desk lamp lightbulb. It was dense. It was dark. It was a black hole in a Duvel glass. The aroma was very slight with almost imperceptible beer smells.
As I took the first sip, I felt how viscous the beer was in my mouth. It seemed thicker. At the swallow the flavors exploded. The coffee was first and foremost, followed by just a hint of chocolate. Then I felt the warm line trace its way down my gullet. This was one helluva beer.
This was a double-barreled shotgun blast full of coffee flavor. It was as if I grabbed a tablespoonful of Folgers and chewed on it for awhile. To call the middle flavors robust would not be doing this beer ample justice. This tasted like a big beer and at 8.3% ABV it could be classified as just that.
Very dark, burnt and roasted malts filled in around the coffee flavor. As each sip went down, a tinge a chocolatey sweet was dabbed on the sides of my tongue. There was an overall silkiness or creaminess to the beer as well. I’ll credit the oatmeal for that characteristic. Surprisingly, with 60 IBUs as noted on the neck label, the bitterness blends in well with all of the other massive flavors.
This was one of those times that my whole being grinned a great big grin just for being alive and tasting this hearty beer. Every definition of the word manly is in this beer. It’s a beer with muttonchops and a handlebar mustache. If you like coffee, you’ll love this beer.
It’s a beer for sharing after deer hunting or house framing. It’d be great with a good cigar or pipe bowlful. Poker night with the guys? This would make an excellent last round. Just be mindful of the higher than usual alcohol content. This beer tastes so good you may just forget that fact and it could creep up on you later and smack you upside your head.
By all means, try this beer. Don’t let the price scare you; it’s absolutely worth the almost three bucks a bottle. Get a four-pack and share it with your best friend. Rich, thick, hearty and robust are words that only come close to describing this outstanding drinking experience. Highly recommended.
Taste: A > Close to sensory overload.
Smoothness: A > Coffee in a satin glove.
Drinkability: B+ > You’ll give that last one remaining a lot of thought.
Bang for the buck: C+ > A little steep, but so are Bears tickets.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: It’s dark and it’s gonna be bitter if it’s dark. Ooh the smell. Too much coffee. (sip) Ucckk. Yugh. Ooh. That’s like week-old coffee. Don’t like that at all. (Didja taste any chocolate? You like chocolate. Hey, where’dja go?)
Founders video from 2007