Brewery: Founders Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Western Michigan
Beer: Breakfast Stout
BJCP Style: 13E. American Stout
Appearance: Pours thick, black, opaque; low brown head; light does not pass through this beer.
Smell: Coffee, coffee, coffee, with heavy chocolate.
Taste: Did I mention coffee? Despite the heavy coffee, this beer is incredibly balanced. The coffee flavors play nicely with the dark chocolate flavors, making individual flavors hard to pin down. Was that coffee? Or was it the chocolate? Surprisingly not overly alcoholic, mostly just smooth. Some hops, but basically acting in a supporting role.
Mouthfeel: Thick, viscous, full.
Drinkability: I see what makes this beer popular. I've had a few coffee stouts (even brewed one), but what sets this one apart are the hints of dark chocolate hanging out at the fringes. They really round out the flavor nicely. On the other hand, you really have to be in the mood for coffee when you drink this beer (unlike some coffee stouts, this beer is more than just a hint of coffee!). I drank it late in the afternoon, and found the coffee taste to be a bit too much by the end. I'll have to try it in the morning sometime soon (perhaps Chistmas?). I'm generally more in the mood for coffee then.
This is a solid beer, well-balanced and interesting. All that being said, I'm not sure it makes my top 10 or top 20 list. Happy to have tried it (happier still to have three other bottles to try), and I'll look for it next year, but I think once a year is enough for me. I wonder if it isn't that scarcity (the beer is issued only once a year, right after Thanksgiving), as well as the novelty of the concept, rather than the taste itself, that make it so popular.
It is worth noting that I liked this beer much better than the last Founders beer I tried, the Dirty Bastard Scotch Style Ale. Now I'm eager to try their other beers and see where they shake out.