Nothing quite signifies the change of seasons so strikingly as the tendency for breweries to release thicker and heavier beers in the colder months. It therefore seems fitting that Michigan-based Founders chose this time to release its Canadian Breakfast Stout, or CBS as it is affectionately abbreviated on the bottle. Formerly a draft-only offering, this release marks the first time CBS has been commercially bottled and is the third entry into the “Breakfast Stout” line, alongside Founders Breakfast Stout and Kentucky Breakfast Stout, which is aged in bourbon barrels. CBS takes this progression even further by filling these bourbon casks with maple syrup, and after letting it impart its flavor to the wood, drains them and fills them with the beer. What we are left with is a 10.6% abv imperial stout which is brewed with chocolate and coffee and absorbs the bourbon and maple notes from the barrels in which it was aged.
Straight out of the bottle, the liquid looks exactly as I was expecting; thick, ebony, almost sticky. A mocha-colored and frothy head helps open the bouquet, which delivers that same bold espresso note that is so prominently featured in the other Breakfast Stout beers. Likewise, the bourbon is rich and sweet to help cut this roast and is aided by the chocolate. The biggest surprise is the apparent lack of maple syrup, which should be the calling card for this beer. I’m not sure if it’s the more robust characteristics of the beer overshadowing the maple, but it’s faint and only comes in around the finish. In the taste, the maple shines more so than in the nose, but I can’t help but say I would’ve wanted more. The full body is spot on for the style and huge flavors, with active carbonation to keep it from getting too heavy.
I haven’t tried this on tap, so this is my first exposure to the famed CBS, and I have to say it has lived up to my expectations. The adjectives that immediately come to mind are ones of high praise, from decadent to gourmet. The only fault I can levy against it is the somewhat muffled maple syrup characteristic, but it improves in the flavor. These bottles sold out quickly, so it may be difficult to come across one, but definitely seek one out if you can!