Strange Brew

Friday, June 05, 2009

My favorite in-state brewery is a close tie between New Holland and Founders. They each brew beers that are mainstays of my beer fridge. Founders, though, brews what is my favorite beer: the Breakfast Stout. There is, simply, nothing wrong with this beer. It is perfect in every way.

Then, on rare occasions, they brew their Kentucky Breakfast Stout, which is the very same stout aged in bourbon barrels. Clever, no? And muy delicioso.

In a recent conversation with their sales and marketing director, I found out that Founders is unveiling a line of specialty beers called "Founders Backstage." They make a limited amount of barrels of these beers (no bottles) and send them along to bars that are Founders-friendly. One of these beers is the Canadian Breakfast Stout. It's Breakfast Stout (oatmeal, double chocolate, coffee) with maple syrup added and aged, as I understand it, in maple syrup barrels. What's not to love?

And I found this elixir in one of my favorite beer bars, Dusty's Taproom, on my and Mrs. Smitty's anniversary evening this past Tuesday. Of course, we immediately each had a snifter. This stuff is incredible.

Our bartender handed each of us a pitch-black glass topped off with a rich, thick lather-like 3 finger head that yielded a lacing that stuck like glue to the glass as we drank it down. It just looked thick and heavy, and along with the lacing also left wine-like "legs" down the glass as we swirled it.

One long drawn breath was not enough to uncover all of the subtleties Canadian Breakfast Stout. I noticed the sticky-sweetness of the maple syrup right on top of everything. Along with it was root beer, vanilla, cinnamon, and cocoa. And of course, it wouldn't be Breakfast Stout with a nice load of coffee along with it. This beer just smelled like breakfast. It was inviting, warm, and comfortable. It didn't have aromas so heavy that it invoked fear. No...it was breakfast in a bottle. Bathrobe and slippers and a newspaper.

To say that the taste mirrored the aroma would be to minimize what this beer offered my tongue. Maybe because of the barrel-aging of the beer, there was a hint of bourbon throughout each drink. The maple syrup added a huge complexity to the beer. The maple flavor we all love on top of our pancakes and sausages was clear as day. But it really added a depth of flavor through sugary sweetness that gave this stout a dark fruit character (plums) that is otherwise missing in the flagship style of this beer. Cocoa, root beer, molasses, malted milk, and coffee all played along in this breakfast of champions, and a interesting caramel taste thrilled me on the finish. These flavors, especially the maple, really lingered on my tongue well after each drink, and as the beer warmed a bit, all the flavors get more pronounced. This is a beer for the ages.

From the oatmeal, this lovely beer is smooth as silk, except for a slightly dusty cocoa texture. At nearly 10% abv, I never felt the alcohol burn, nor did the alcohol take away from any of the other flavors. There was no "maple syrup mixed with jet fuel" feel to this beer. It was just smooth, sticky, sweet and delicious.

Canadian Breakfast Stout. Would I pour it over pancakes? I might. In fact, I may actually mix pancake batter with it. This is an after-dinner sipper. This is a beer to be as much contemplated as it is to be cherished and drank. This beer is a rich, thick stack of pancakes covered in pure syrup with a cup of black coffee.

6 comments:

Sopor 9:20 AM  

OH MY GOD.

That sounds AMAZING.

Do you know of any other bars that are going to have this, or any of the other Backstage beers on? I'm really hoping they'll have some at the Summer Beer Fest!

If they DID do this in bottles, I would TOTALLY put it in pancake batter... or more likely waffle batter because I just like waffles more. But... I think I would be hard pressed to use any of this to cook, since that's that much more that I can't drink...

Bob 9:47 AM  

Had me two Founders Breakfast Stout last night. Then someone bought me a third. Oh boy, that was enough. Love the stuff, but three? I would have had to loosen my belt. I gave it away.

This new stout sounds tasty. Having been introduced to Maple syrup beers with Smitty's own Maple Porter, I think I may like it. I will have to run to Dusty's soon.

Smitty 10:40 AM  

Crunchy's in East Lansing is supposed to have it too, and of course they have it on tap right now in their own tap room.

Bob 11:41 AM  

Crunchy's has good beer? I had no idea the place that also sells swill beer literally by the bucket would also sell Founders.

Smitty 12:38 PM  

Dude, Crunchy's has 27 micros on tap. Their newer owner has done an amazing job of making that place into a beer bar of note.

Bob 3:01 PM  

"Crunchy's has 27 micros on tap..."

Dang I like living in East Lansing. It gets better all the time.

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