In 1997, Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers opened the doors to a 9,800-square-foot brewery in Grand Rapids, Mich. After struggling at the brink of bankruptcy for the first few years, they started a barrel-aging program and an intensified brewing program that saw the emergence of Centennial IPA, Dirty Bastard and Breakfast Stout. Need I say more? The rest is history. Continuing on, their spot on the craft beer ladder was sealed with the likes of additional beers such All Day IPA and the ever-popular Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS), a 12 percent ABV Imperial Stout brewed with coffee and chocolate and then aged in bourbon barrels 85 feet underground in abandoned gypsum mines.
Today, I am holding a bottle in my hand that should be familiar to craft beer enthusiast, Canadian Breakfast Stout, also known simply as CBS. This is one of its stellar accomplishments and as I have had this several times before, I am thrilled to be able to express my opinion as I review it today. CBS was originally released in 2008 and uses the same base stout base beer as KBS. The stout has the additions of coffee and chocolate during the brewing process and is aged in bourbon barrels which have most recently contained maple syrup.
Unfortunately, I have depleted all of my 12-ounce bottles of this beer but lucky for me, I still have a 750ml big bottle that I am excited to drink and not share with anyone.
Poured from the large bottle, the label depicts a Canadian Mounties horse, although missing the actual Mountie himself. The Mountie was removed last year due to a request from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that stated that although they respected what Founders was producing, they chose not to be featured on the bottle. Due to respect for their belief in safety and wholesomeness and to avoid any copyright infringement, Founders happily complied.
The pour is straight down the center of the glass, which might have been a mistake on my part as the deep khaki-colored head took over offering at least 5-6 fingers of thick foamy head which took forever to reduce. The first aromas from the glass are light bourbon, sweet maple and mild roastiness that leaves me wanting more. Delving into the first sip, the first slap in the face is the sweet, brown sugar-like sweetness that hits right off the bat. Fortunately, although it remains throughout the drinking process, the sweetness allows other components to rise and become players. Notes of coffee, fresh maple syrup and very light chocolate come forward and on the back end, I receive touches of damp leather, tobacco, rich malts and subdued bourbon. The balance is coming together quite well.
Carbonation is graciously present and to me is just right for the style. Mouth feel is coating and sugary and ends with a touch more coffee and maple syrup. Finish is still coating the palate yet does not overstay its welcome, with the sweetness, coffee, chocolate and bourbon melding together to finish this beer off really well.