What better way to start a 12 hour day of tasting beer at GABF and Denver beer bars than with a few breakfast-style beers? It's a long, glorious day ahead and I want a cozy beginning....
BEER & BREWERY #19
Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout, 9.4%: I first relished a Founders beer on the cloudy morning of Dark Lord Day. The Kentucky Breakfast Stout was my first beer (and literally my breakfast) as we milled around the parking lot in wonderment at the ever-expanding crowd. I realized in that moment why Founders was such beer geek favorite and why the KBS (as it's now called) has a cult-like following. It's amazing.
So when I heard they were pouring their Canadian Breakfast Stout at GABF, I made a swift beeline to their booth as soon as I entered the building. After all, I needed my breakfast beverage. Water alone just ISN'T sufficient...
So what's the difference between the Canadian and Kentucky Breakfast Stouts? The Canadian is placed in barrels that were used to make Canadian maple syrup that were previously Bourbon barrels. Got all that? So in essence this a graceful, yummy extension of the Kentucky. Aged for about 1 year, the result is Holy Wow. I mean I am rendered happily speechless for a moment.
On the nose, maple syrup (of course!), pancakes (power of suggestion, perhaps?) coffee, molasses, and vanilla extract. But the palate is where this beer shines above others. The literal flavor of breakfast in a log cabin kitchen in the winter with a fresh fire roaring. Incredible and insanely delicious notes of coffee, dark chocolate, and maple syrup. All of those aromas are ratcheted up about 10 notches on the palate. This beer is the definition of comforting. This is a MUST MUST try for stout lovers.
There is a reason this beer scores an A+ on Beer Advocate. It's simply divine.
Founders Brewery, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was founded in 1997 by Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers. By 2010, they were named the #4 Brewery in the World by RateBeer. Impressive! Cranking out inventive and complex beers with names like Dirty Bastard, Nemesis, and Curmudgeon (love that word), you know you are in for a beverage with personality. Their current lineup includes about 15 beers, including Year-Round, Seasonals, and of course those Specialty beers like KBS that we all crave and covet.
BEER & BREWERY #18
Hoppin' Frog Cafe Boris Imperial Coffee Stout: Moving on, I thought I needed a swift coffee punch, so I moseyed over to Hoppin Frog for my next breakfast delight. Having heard of this beer time and time again by Midwest beer friends, this daunting brew was destined to be on my agenda.
This is a shot of espresso. Literally. To the FACE. Intense notes of espresso bean, the darkest, most bitter chocolate known to man, and charred wood on the nose.
The palate? Wowza. All the bitterness of espresso, from beginning to end. It's power only allows small doses. At least for this caffeine-weak wienie. I feel the buzz coming on. This beer is not for the faint of heart. To my Italian friends, you would love this one. It's like standing in a corner cafe in Milano. I just noticed I am typing in fragments. That's what the memory of this beer did to me. Coffee junkies, you gotta try this one to believe it.
Straight outta Akron, Ohio (home to The Black Keys, yeeeah!), Hoppin Frog is the brainchild of owner and brewer Fred Karm. Began in 2000, Hoppin' Frog is known for producing award-winning beers, most notably the BORIS series. With 18 beers on his roster (Year-round, Seasonal, and Specialty), and names like D.O.R.I.S. the Destroyer and Hop Dam, I'm wanting to try more...
And to round out my breakfast bonanza, one of the most interesting beers of GABF:
BEER & BREWERY #17
Port Brewing Bacon & Eggs Imperial Coffee Porter, 9.5% ABV: With a name like that, are you kidding me? SOLD! A rich nose, with tons of coffee, dark, dark (did I say dark?) chocolate, and vanilla. You want to keep smelling. And relishing. On the palate, guess what? The same and more. Molasses, syrup, and roasty, toasty malt.
I had the distinct pleasure of talking with Yiga, the brewer of this beer and of Pizza Port in Ocean Beach. This beer was blended with Ethiopian and Columbian coffee, which was roasted and cold-pressed by Cafe Calabria, a local San Diego roaster in the North Park neighborhood. One word: Delish.
Pizza Port/Port Brewing in Ocean Beach is fresh to San Diego, just opening this year. But Port Brewing (with other locations in Carlsbad and Solana Beach) is one of the most famous and loved breweries in California, and quite frankly, the world.
Stay tuned for a full Brewery feature with Port Brewing soon!!
Until next time,
Stay hardy, eat well, and drink beer. Even for breakfast.