SPECIAL REPORT: Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout

Last night, WFMU (Jersey City, NJ’s listener-supported, freeform radio station) sponsored a Beer Nerd Meet-Up at Barcade, the less hipster-douche-y version of the original Williamsburg bar-meets-arcade.  A fundraiser for the station, the night centered around an uncommon event: the tapping of a keg of Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout.  Twenty dollars reserved you a 10 oz. pour of this hard-to-come-by beer, which was first released as part of Founders’ “Backstage Series” (a line that brought some of the breweries most sought-after small release beers to a wider audience.)

With the anticipation raised by the small-batch brew style of the Backstage Series, coupled with its Beer Advocate ranking as the fifth highest-rated beer in the world, there is much ado about the CBS.

And so, The Year in Beer is going to break from routine and do a special review of this rare Founders brew.


Beer: Breakfast Stout
Brewery: Founders
Style: American Double/Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.4%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Beer snifter
Drinking Establishment: Barcade, Jersey City
Primary Consumer: Ally
Consumption Companion: Ally’s beer-savvy sister, Laura



Sight: Super dark, near black in color.  (Although it’s not the most well-lit bar in Jersey City, so…yes.)  No head by the time it was served.

Scent: Predominantly coffee and chocolate, but also roasted malt and smoky, in that campfire/woodsy/Canuck kind of way.

Flavor:  The flavors present themselves in a series–first the roasted smokiness, then espresso, then bittersweet chocolate.  The chocolate lingers most as an aftertaste.

Feel: Not overtly thick or heavy.  Moderate-to-low carbonation.

This offering from the Founders folks in Grand Rapids, Michigan is brewed with chocolate and a combo of Sumatra and Kona coffees; it’s then aged in barrels that once aged both bourbon barrels and–wait for it–Canadian maple syrup!  Whoa!  Sounds exciting, right?  Well, I’ll admit, it doesn’t taste like any other stout I’ve ever had, but I don’t understand why it’s so coveted.  After smelling the smokiness on first scent, I secretly wanted the first sip to taste like bacon.  (Come on, it’s a breakfast stout!)  And then, upon speaking with the bartender and learning about that magical maple characteristic, I then wanted more than anything for it to taste like pancakes.  Well, neither was the case; instead, my taste buds were met with a dark chocolate-covered espresso bean.  The more the beer mellowed, the better it tasted–less carbonation, more chocolate flavor.  But nothing screamed “special!” or “breakfast!” to me–the Sixpoint Smoked Baltic Porter my sister had for her second round was more bacon-y than the CBS, and sometimes you just want a little liquid bacon with your morning coffee-beer.

Concluding remarks: A good cold-weather brew that I wouldn’t turn down, but I also wouldn’t go out of my way for.  And when you’re at an establishment like Barcade that has 25 beers on tap, you want to make the most out of your selection.

You also want to play some BURGERTIME!

Categories: Stout | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “SPECIAL REPORT: Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout

  1. Jonathan

    It’s a totally different beer out of the bottle. I’ve had it on tap at Iron Monkey a few weeks ago, and it was good, not great. But out of the bottle, especially with a little aging, it’s one of the best beers I’ve ever tasted. The same is true for DFH 120 minute… way better out of a bottle than on tap. (though I don’t think 120 min is at the same level as CBS)

    • That makes sense. Most other reviews I’ve read raved about it, but the majority were bottled tastings. I’ll have to look into finding some bottles–a follow-up post might be in order.

  2. Jonathan

    and how was I not invited to this? 😉

  3. Joe

    Maple syrup isn’t an ingredient. The oak barrels used to age the beer first held bourbon and, then, were used to age maple syrup. Founders gets the barrels after the maple syrup has been removed. Some residue is natural, but none is added to the beer.

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