DSC02141Maple syrup. It’s not just for pancakes any more.

Stopped in to The Muddy Pig in St. Paul after work for the long awaited Founders release party. For those of us in the Twin Cities who make the occasional trip out to Wisconsin to pick up various renowned beers like Dogfish Head, Stone, New Glarus, and of course Founders, I’m very glad I can now save on the gas money and find their stuff at my local bar or liquor store. Wish I could say the same for the rest.

So imagine my surprise sitting down tonight at the pub to check out which Founders offerings were available, and seeing not their legendary Kentucky Breakfast Stout, which is what I assumed would be there, but their even more limited Canadian Breakfast Stout, an imperial stout aged in Kentucky whiskey barrels that were also used by a small maple syrup maker. And to add a bit of flair to the presentation and play off the whole maple syrup/breakfast stout theme, each glass of the stuff was served with a heaping pile of Bacon Explosion, what might be the most cholesterol-packed portion of food I’ve ever experienced. After I had a few bites and used the EKG machine to ensure my heart was in proper working order, I put on my review cap and did my best to discern what this Canadian Breakfast Stout was all about. They only had a small 5 gallon cask of the stuff, and were rationing it out in tiny 4 ounce sample glasses, but I was able to get a pretty solid sense of it.          

Massive oak and whisky aroma with hints of Sumatra and Kona coffee beans. Sweet, molasses, chewy caramel. Might be one of the boldest smelling beers I’ve ever experienced. Maple undertones as well, but it was tough to discern over the evident alcohol characteristic. Jet black coloring with trails of tan bubbles making up the nearly non-existent head.

Taste was huge, like the nose. So complex, so much going on. Very tough to single it all out. Thick roasted malt, bourbon, coffee, maple syrup, more bourbon, maybe some vanilla and oak. Your tastebuds are completely enveloped. I kept thinking about Goose Island Bourbon County Stout as I drank this, which has much more of a tobacco-like quality to it, but Founders CBS might trump that beer as even more insanely rich and immensely complex. 9.5% ABV, which you definitely taste in the finish. 

I gotta be honest. This beer gets huge marks on Beer Advocate as an A+ kind of beer. I’m guessing mainly because of its extremely limited availability (maybe a bit like Westy?), and of course its extreme nature as an imperial stout to end all imperial stouts. But as much as this was a unique and enjoyable beer, it doesn’t really compare in my book to other A+ kind of imperial stouts I’ve had like Darkness or Dark Lord. Just not the same kind of inately satisfying depth and chocolatey warmth the others deliver. One small glass was about all I could handle. I wasn’t interested in any more.

Unfortunately it’s only a superb beer, not world-class.

Rating: A-