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chocolate, coffee, beer and me.

October 23, 2009

I am admittedly a complete beer geek and/or beer snob. I’m one of those people that drinks hopped up double IPAs and Belgian ales and seasonal small batch beers from regional craft breweries and can’t stand hanging out at bars where everyone is chugging Miller Lite, Bud and Coronas right out of the cans/bottles.  I regularly cross state lines to buy beers that aren’t distributed in my state.  When I take a trip somewhere, I look up what beers I can get in that city, where the best brew pubs are and if there is a decent brewery in the area that I can tour. I’m that guy.

I’ve also now been a homebrewer for about three and a half years.  I stick mostly to the styles I enjoy drinking the most: India Pale Ales, American Pale Ales, Dunkelweizens and Hefeweizens. I’m capable of making some pretty damn good beers if I do say so myself, and since I’m the one that drinks the majority of the beers that I brew…well, self hi-five.

However, toward the end of this past spring I decided to brew my first Stout. I’d gotten a bit bored making variations of the same basic styles over and over and wanted to try brewing something else. I was a little discouraged because of a bad experience with a Belgian Tripel I tried making a few months into my homebrewing that turned out far short of wonderful. Not being the biggest fan of Stouts in general, I often find the ones I try to be overpowering and entirely too filling. Most beer geeks flip out over the insanely strong Russian Imperial Stouts and the many barrel aged deep, dark seasonal Stouts that pop up from many great craft breweries throughout the country. For whatever reason, I’ve yet to develop a real taste for them. I figured that if I were to try brewing a Stout that I may as well try to brew one of the few Stouts that I truly love and appreciate, Founders Breakfast Stout.

There is nothing subtle about this beer. With flaked oats, coffee and chocolate in addition to four different types of malt, the flavors are intense. Yet it presents a really nice balance between bitter and sweet while at the same time maintaining a complexity that I often miss in many of the Stouts that beer geeks tend to rave about. The commercial version is highly recommended if you can get your hands on it. Strong coffee and chocolate flavors absolutely rip through this excellent brew which beeradvocate.com rates an A+/A and ratebeer.com rates a 100. So yeah, it’s a pretty serious brew. My go at it was based on the clone recipe that was published in BYO magazine. I followed it pretty closely with just a few minor substitutions with the chocolate.

Chocolate and coffee getting ready to be thrown into the boil. April 2009.

Chocolate and coffee getting ready to be thrown into the boil. April 2009.

Since brewing it back in April, and then bottling it in May, its been sitting quietly, well hidden and packed away in a couple of cases at the bottom of the pantry, just waiting to be broken into for the cold fall and winter months. Bottle conditioned now for five and a half months, I decided that the time was right to pour a few bottles on this chilly, windy and rainy day.

Looking, smelling and tasting amazing. The finished Founders Breakfast Stout clone. October 2009.

Looking, smelling and tasting amazing. The finished Founders Breakfast Stout clone brightens a cold and rainy autumn afternoon. October 2009.

I’m really pleased with the way this turned out. The bottle conditioning time has done it well. Patience was the key with this brew. The couple of test bottles I tried over the months while it was conditioning were huge on the coffee without much else coming through. Now, just a few weeks shy of  seven months since brew day, there is a really nice balance between the coffee and the chocolate up front and as it warms a bit the chocolate becomes even more pronounced. I’m hoping to stash some away to enjoy in Jan/Feb ’10 just to see how much more the flavor profile will change. If there is one problem, it is head retention. The nice head you see on the pour in the photo above only lasts for about 3-4 minutes before dissipating almost completely. I’ve read that this is mostly due to the oils from the Kona coffee that the brew was conditioned with during secondary fermentation. I suppose we’ll see what I can do about that when I brew this again next spring. Until then, I’ve got about forty 12 oz. bottles of Breakfast Stout to help get me through this Chicago winter.

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One comment

  1. Oh my God, that actually sounds amazing. Beer stout. I picture it along side a bowl of oatmeal.



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