Ask any fan of craft beers who has more than a passing knowledge of harder to find releases what their white whales are, and chances are good that Founders Brewing Co.’s Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS) is on the list.

The imperial stout was first released in October 2011 with an extremely limited amount of 750ml bottles sold and it quickly took on mythical status based on reviews of the lucky few who managed to get ahold of one. A draft-only version was released nationwide in 2014 which allowed more people to try it, but only increased the fever of people wanting to try it in packaged form.

It turns out Founders was listening.

Rumors started making the rounds in mid-2017 about how CBS was going to be the final release in Founders’ Barrel-Aged Series this year, all of which had been released in both 12-ounce and 750ml bottles.

While the rumors ended up being true, the U.S. will only get the 750ml bottles, while the 12-ounce bottles are being sent exclusively to the 27 countries in Founders’ international distribution network, including Canada, which will be receiving the imperial stout for the first time.

As with previous incarnations, the newest version of Canadian Breakfast Stout is an 11.7 percent ABV imperial stout brewed with chocolate and a blend of coffee before being aged for over a year in spent bourbon barrels that were recently used to age maple syrup sourced from BLiS Gourmet. It is scheduled to be available at retailers across the brewery’s 45-state distribution network today in 750ml bottles that will retail for $24.99 each, although there are already reports of retailers jumping the gun and selling bottles to customers early.

Canadian Breakfast Stout joins five other beers that have been released at part of Founders’ Barrel-Aged Series this year.

Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout 2017 pours a deep black color with two fingers of tan brown head that sticks around for quite a while before dissipating into a thin lacing. Aroma from the glass is a combination of strong coffee beans, oak, leather, tobacco and maple, and there seems to be plenty of carbonation in the beer.

The first sip of the CBS 2017 brings an explosion of rich coffee beans on the palate with lesser notes of creamy oak, leather, tobacco and bourbon playing catchup. While there is definitely some maple sweetness present on the finish, it is extremely subtle at this point. The amount of carbonation is ideal and the mouthfeel is thick without being distractingly chewy.

As it warms, the flavors in the Canadian Breakfast Stout 2017  switch places: the maple sweetness takes over the dominant spot as it coats the palate, with the rich coffee beans taking the top spot on the finish. Other notes of bitter dark chocolate, bourbon, oak and leather are present, but as when the beer is cold, they are complimentary instead of coming anywhere close to being dominant.

The sample of Canadian Breakfast Stout 2017 consumed for this review was sent to Tenemu by Founders Brewing Co.

Founders CBS 2017
BREWERY: Founders Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Grand Rapids, Mich.
STYLE: Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.7 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: 24.99
RELEASE DATE: Dec. 1, 2017
AVAILABLE IN: 750ml & 12-ounce Bottles
Is Canadian Breakfast Stout 2017 worth the time, trouble and money to actually track down? Unequivocally yes. While the signature maple sweetness in the profile is relegated to the background out of the fridge, the sweetness becomes much more obvious as the beer warms, leading to an extremely well-balanced profile that also includes notes of oak, bourbon, chocolate, coffee beans and maple, each of which is given its time to shine without overpowering the rest. Not all of Founders’ Barrel-Aged Series releases have been home runs this year—I'm looking at you DKML—but CBS 2017 is a home run and easily one of the best stouts to be released this year on a national level. Just remember to let it warm up.
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