Sunday, April 4, 2010
Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout: You Complete Me
How do you define perfection? Think about your favorite album, your favorite piece of art that you've spied, or perhaps your favorite meal you've ever had at a restaurant. What do they have in common? What makes them flawless?
Perfection seems to be the achievement of a harmony in which every element needed to create something is present in a superlative way, but each one blends in with such facility that none stands out. Each element services the whole with the highest level of precision.
This, of course, is Founders Brewery's Canadian Breakfast Stout. Yes, the Kentucky Breakfast Stout is an elite beer and my recent trip to Founders was for the purpose of scoring KBS directly from the brewer. As you know, I was not successful. But, what kept me undeterred in my mission to get to Michigan even after my car died was partly my irresistible temptation to try Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout. It's only available in kegs and, as far as I know, Founders Brewpub is the only place you can tap into one.
The dirty secret is that - and I feel guilty, like I'm cheating on a new girlfriend when I say this - when
compared with KBS, Canadian Breakfast Stout is the better beer. KBS is a wonderful harmony of the bourbon odor and taste, hops, coffee flavors, roasted dark chocolate hints, molasses, et. al. But I can easily identify those flavors. For example, the bourbon announces itself immediately and in a powerful way. On the other hand, the Canadian (I want to avoid using the obvious acronym for it) is simply seamless. Driven by maple syrup barreling, it does not have an overwhelmingly sweet nose. I gathered rich roasted malt odors. Like its Kentucky cousin, it pours a modest tan head. The taste sets it apart from anything else. Subtle maple flavors meet the rich roasted coffee flavors. The honeyed sweetness of the maple is so delectable that it disguises the bitter richness of the coffee and roasted malts. In turn, the earthiness of the coffee tames the sweetness. It's all wrapped up in a potion that has a silky mouthfeel, like buttermilk. It's as if you're subtly aware of everything that is there but nothing distinguishes itself in an unbalanced way, and therefore, you focus on the seamless whole. Or, should I say, it's perfect! By the way, this beer hits you HARD, at 11% and change ABV.
PROS: This beer will make you appreciate the existence of beer and incredible brewers such as Founders.
CONS: Unless you are lucky enough to find a keg of this outside of Grand Rapids, you have to travel to Grand Rapids, Michigan to drink this beer. At 11%, you'd better get a hotel. Also, this beer might force you to rethink the concept of U.S. superiority.
VERDICT: This is a remarkable achievement from Founders. I direct you to Hotels.com. While you're on the web, Google the lyrics for Oh, Canada.
Rating: * * * * * stars. A singular brew. One of the best beers I've ever had.