Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout

Total Score: 8.05/10 BrownSugar1Vanilla1Coffee1Tulipglass1

Review #1,111 – This is it; my last hurrah, my final long-format review on BeerAdvocate (I’m now on Untappd as “doktorhops” where I will still on occasion dispense beer-laden advice 140 letters at a time). I have several reasons, but it mainly boils down to having two little ones and too limited an amount of time keep writing these reviews (over 458,700 words and counting – that’s enough to fill a novel FFS). So I saved the best for last: Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout. Some ppl know me as “that guy wot wrote the most liked FBS review on BA” and I figured it rather fitting to review one of their most legendary brews: the maple syrup bourbon barrel ripper known affectionately as “CBS”. Spoiler alert: This’ll be bitchen.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Pours richer, denser, more-viscous than FBS – Wow! What a demonic looking beast this Imp-Stout is! Blacker than a black heart covered in a tar-like ooze, with a thin ring of tan lace, this is the beer that launched a thousand beer nerds – to paraphrase Marlowe. 10/10.

S: Very much a KBS meets a maple syrup barrel kind of aroma: bourbon hints, oak/woody/vanilla tones, dark chocolate and roasted coffee… and of course the signature ingredient: maple syrup! There’s an odd pear/apple ester too – not sure what that’s doing here (not unlike the odd shochu character in KBS). Still this is a complex and well-rounded fragrance, superb work again from Founders. 9/10.

T: Hmmm, much sweeter than I recall KBS. I’m sure you’re thinking “derp man” however it is customary for sweeter flavours from a barrel to mellow out during the ageing – this just feels like KBS with maple syrup added post-ageing. That said, if you’re a sweet-tooth then this is maple heaven. Flavour profile is very much like KBS, powerful with notes of: roasted coffee, dark chocolate, bourbon, oak/woody/vanilla, molasses and a hint of coffee bitterness in the finish. 7/10.

M: Yep, there’s that Founders body – smoother than a Motown R&B singer, this is as heavy and luscious as they come – a perfect 10 like the other BS’s. 10/10.

D: Alas, for me this brew was sweet to the point of a needle – an insulin needle. Too much of a good thing, there is such a beer: Canadian Breakfast Stout. IMO the best of Founders is (and perhaps will always be) KBS. No lie – I struggled to finish this it was so sweet, paying $24 for the bottle helped it go down, I cant abide wasting a beer at this price point. Sorry for the (semi)-sad ending. 8/10.

Food match: Perhaps pancakes could soak up this sugar-bomb of a brew?

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Pannepot Special Reserva (2014 vintage)

Total Score: 8.75/10 RedWine1Clove1Vegemite1Chalice1

Yay, been looking forward to this for soooo long! Pannepot Special Reserva: A version of Struise Brouwers Old Fisherman’s Spiced Ale, barrel-aged for 4 years in a Bordeaux oak barrel from France. Funny they aged this in wine barrels from France because this is the beer equivalent of a very fine aged wine. In fact it reminds me of that Black Books episode where they try to recreate a bottle of wine reserved for the Pope by using a cheap bottle of red, vanilla essence and an oak twig (probably my favourite episode of Black Books) #goodtimes So what exactly can one expect from this 10% ABV beauty? Something smooth, yet spicy, with a long oak finish? Your guess is as good as mine (if that was your guess, otherwise hard luck old spice).

Poured from a 330ml bottle into an Orval chalice.

A: Dark brown with a burgundy-red tinge, quite an active mocha-coloured head that fizzles down as fast as it came leaving a faint ring of lace. Looks like a Belgian Dark Strong Ale (as opposed to the Quadrupel it’s listed as on BA), reminds me of Gulden Draak, which is not golden despite the name. 8/10.

S: Very much like the original Pannepot Old Fisherman’s Ale (cardamom, cinnamon, mace, dark fruits, brown sugar and yep: Vegemite/Marmite) with a solid red grape must vinous note from the barrel. Here’s hoping that Vegemite/Marmite character from original Pannepot has settled down a little, although I know if I had it today – 4 years after my original Pannepot review – I would have rated it higher than a respectable, yet slightly paltry: 8.05/10. 9/10.

T: As expected “It’s a party in my mouth, and everyone’s invited!” (God bless you Ken Griffey Jr.), with a flavour profile so explosive I’m surprised a glass bottle could contain it: cardamom, cinnamon, mace, dark fruits, brown sugar, VegeMarmite™, yes yes, some mid-palate oak wood tones, touch of vanilla, red grape must, yeast? Did I mention yeast? VegeMarmite™ is a yeast paste so that counts, and a dry spicy finish. Next to no alco-burn. This is a true sipper right here. 9/10.

M: Mid to heavy bodied, the minimal carbonation comes across as a bit prickly for some reason, detracts a touch from this otherwise world-class brew. 7/10.

D: It’s hard to go past this Pannepot Special Reserva, some of the edges I found too rough with original Pannepot have mellowed over time, along with that chaotic nature, and the barrel has given this brew a subtle face-lift, enough to leave a refined sipper that has a slight wild side – top stuff Struise! 9/10.

Food match: Gotta be some fine French ‘haute cuisine’ for this puppy… puppies too.

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Alvinne Oak Aged Cuvée de Mortagne Sauternes

Total Score: 8.95/10 RedWine1Bubblegum1Wood1Chalice1

Look, I’ve actually tried an Alvinne beer before on tap (it was an elderflower sour, I think it was their Cuvée Sofie Vlierbloesem) and it was fantastic. I decided these Alvinne guys & girls knew their elbows from their ankles [that’s the PG version of the phrase – useful to know when you have kids], and thus I sought out the BIG[Bearing Immense Gusto]-est brew I could get my hands on. Welcome to my review of Alvinne’s Oak Aged Cuvée de Mortagne Sauternes – a 12.8% ABV oak aged amber Quadrupel. Yep, this is going to be BIG! Added bonus – I don’t have mind a decent Botrytis wine, so looking forward to this 😀

Poured from a 330ml bottle into an Orval chalice.

A: Presents a deep hazed amber-ruby body with a thin ring of bubbles instead of a head, although for a brief moment it did appear to be cream-coloured. Looks a bit like a wine/beer fusion (beer for the colour, wine for the lack of head/fizz). There’s always a chance of no head with a 12%+ ABV beer, so no worries here. 8/10.

S: What an aroma too! I had to plug a nostril to the top of the bottle to get as much of this intoxicating fragrance into my olfactory senses: mead-like, grape must and Botrytis vinous notes lead the charge, with hints of bubble-gum, raisin, and vanilla oak tones rounding out the experience. It’s rare that beer has my nostril glued to the bottle lid like some eager Beagle, but this really is sensational! 10/10.

T: Punchy AF with a real sugar-bomb explosion of flavours: vinous, grape-must, mead, bubble-gum, raisin, vanilla oak notes, yep this has all of the above going on. Along with a slight dry mid-palate wood tone, and a dash of herbal bitterness in the finish. 12.8% ABV??? Where Alvinne hiding that? Drinks like a fine Pinot Noir, soft, yielding, yet complex too. Only downside – the sugar is strong with this one, I’m going to have to book in my sexennial dental visit now (my policy with my teeth being: if it ain’t broke, don’t visit the dentist). 9/10.

M: It’s slick and gooey, like a good sticky date pudding, but the lack of carbonation is alarming to this old craft aficionado (I mean anything is better than nothing). 7/10.

D: This is a really special beer from Alvinne – I’m getting a real Omnipollo feel from this brewery, like they’re Belgian but they’re willing to try something new. Rarely does a beer with so much promise come along like this, if only they could just tweak the sweetness a touch as it does begin to cloy. That 12.8% ABV though, so well hidden. Oh yeah, a dash more carbonation would be nice too. 9/10.

Food match: Treat this like a fine wine, red meat (rare) celeriac, parsnip and truffle.

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BrewDog Tokyo*

Total Score: 8.1/10 DarkFruits1Coffee1Vanilla1Tulipglass1

Hello Tokyo*! This big boy from them-dogs-that-brew is a 16.5% ABV behemoth of an American Imperial Stout with some intriguing ingredients listed on the label: cranberry, jasmine, vanilla – are we really going to taste these components in a 16.5% Imp-Stout? Well, I’m game to give it a try – if only to tell you about it (see what I’m willing to do for my readers? Extra mile and all that). Well, let’s ‘ave at it!

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: She looks pretty black, like the deepest darkest depths of the Mariana trench (which makes me feel like seafood pizza for some reason) and a ring of tan bubbles on the surface – murky and ominous AF. 8/10.

S: Fruity, funky and roasty with aromas of: roasted espresso coffee, red coffee cherries, raisin, cranberry, prune, woody tones and a touch of vanilla in the background – bit of a fruitcake-heavy aroma for an Imp-Stout (throw in a dash of ™mite for a bit of that yeast spread goodness). Heavy stuff, I’m steeling myself for that first sip – it’s been a while since I’ve touched a beer this strong. 8/10.

T: Pretty f__ken smooth given the ABV! Flavour profile begins soft and sweet with a jammy fruitcake (raisin, cranberry and prune), mid-palate roasted espresso coffee, light floral hint (jasmine you old dog), oak tones, vanilla, dash of ™mite and a nice even-keeled bittersweet finish. Right on the money with that bitter/sweet balance too. This is a real BrewDog corker – did not expect the ABV profile to be this smooth (that said I’ve had this beer in the stash for about a year – it’s hardly fresh and had plenty time to mellow out). 8/10.

M: No real surprises here – just a typically viscous-bodied Imp-Stout™, all heavy and oily-like, it’s good not great, maybe a teeny-tiny bit thin (just a touch!). 7/10.

D: By far the softest 16.5% brew I’ve encountered, props to BrewDog – they clearly know how to stash nana’s booze in the fruitcake. I’m curious as to their bigger brews (oh I don’t know, just The End Of History! However I’m not keen on drinking beer from a taxidermied stoat, I’m weird like that – can watch people having heart surgery but I find animal cruelty unsettling). Dis good Tokyo*. 9/10.

Food match: It sips like a fine wine but handles like an Old Ale, game meats or cigars.

*Not sure why BrewDog added the asterisk next to Tokyo*, it’s grammatically confusing to say the least – let me apologise on behalf of those canny Scottish BrewDogz: soz peeps.

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Cantillon Rosé De Gambrinus

Total Score: 8.7/10 Raspberry1Lemon1Flowers1Chalice1

Been a while since I’ve cracked a beer for a review, and even longer since it was something special like a Cantillon, so here goes: This Rosé De Gambrinus is a 2 year old Lambic with macerated fresh raspberries and malted barley/wheat malt bill. The last (and only thus far) Cantillon I reviewed was their Gueuze 100% Lambic, which whilst I’m not a massive sour fan (plus I seem to get acid re-flux from them which makes me even less enamoured with them) however I can appreciate a good sour beer when it crosses my path, and Cantillon really do know their shit – it’s not hype that their Lambics come so highly regarded… yes, this is going to be a special brew regardless of my personal tastes *rubs hands*

Poured from a 750ml corked and capped bottle into my new Orval chalice (a special gift from my very special lady – thanks babe!).

A: Hazed deep ruby red, beautiful colour! Head, when it existed, was pink-tinged, very little carbonation action inside the glass (no laser-etching in this Orval chalice). But mon Dieu that body! Like a fine glass of Cabernet Franc, mwah! 10/10.

S: Raspberry AF! Notes of grape must, yeast-funk, floral perfume (think roses, carnations), hint of pepper spice and a long tart finish to round it all out. Much like my opinion of the Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic: this aroma is a flawless 10/10, and could frankly be sold in little eau de toilette bottles for much more than Cantillon are selling it for as a beer – it’s funny how those economics work. 10/10.

T: Hmmm, much sweeter than expected (though not really sweet at all) – flavour profile begins and ends with proper fresh raspberry character. In between is where that Cantillon magic takes place with notes of: barnyard yeast funk, slight dry woody character, a tart acidic crisp apple/lemon twang, a floral touch, and astringency from bitter cinchona bark, with a finish that is long dry and slightly tart. Complexity-wise it’s not as multi-faceted as I recall the Gueuze 100% Lambic being. 8/10.

M: And again as with the Gueuze 100% Lambic: a bit “more body wouldn’t go astray” with this mid to light bodied Lambic. Carbonation is a tad lacking too, but these are minor complaints. 8/10.

D: Once again Cantillon does not disappoint – coming from someone who is not into sour beers I’m pretty blown away by how much Cantillon fit into a 5% ABV beer package, it’s got a bit of everything – like a good Shakespearean tragedy. It’s just a shame it’s not more regularly available in my neck of the woods. 9/10.

Food match: Raspberry tart with crème Chantilly of course!

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Brewfist The Spaghetti Western Imperial Chocolate Coffee Stout

Total Score: 7.8/10 Chocolate1Coffee1Earth1Tulipglass1

I’ve taken my time to get to this brew – having added it to BeerAdvocate 7 months ago. Yes, it’s been at the back of my fridge, quietly biding its time, let’s face it – with a best before of 12/25 it’s in no hurry. Why now then? Turns out I’m cleaning out my beer cellar, I’m taking a hiatus some point in the future, I’m drawing an imaginary line under my reviews, it’s time soon for a vacation – a vacation from reviewing [as fun as it’s been]. So I’m not hugely familiar with Brewfist, having only reviewed their Catepillar APA in 2014 and not being impressed I’ve avoided them since. This sounds intriguing: Grappa barrel-aged chocolate coffee Imperial Stout – how many things can Brewfist pack in there? *straps self in*

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Blacker than my bike chain (which really really needs a clean already) with a nice big khaki-coloured cappuccino foam head that slowly drops back leaving minimal lace on top. There appears to be some real density to this brew – at 10.7% ABV it’s going to be quite the bruiser I suspect. 8/10.

S: Heady stuff! Big with dark chocolate, cacao nibs, espresso coffee and an unmistakable whiff of powerful Italian grappa (think vodka on major steroids with a dash of brandy thrown in for good measure – like vodka needs a brandy kick anyhow). This is one impressive… no, it’s more ominous, like a large bus-sized man in a trench-coat and trilby standing in the shadows – there’s an overriding sense that this beer will in fact mug me. 9/10.

T: Powerful but approachable – not expecting that. Flavour profile consists of the following: Dark chocolate, cacao nibs, espresso coffee, a bold grappa slap, smoky notes, woody and earthy tones. Yep, this is a big fish. That grappa slap comes through even more as the glass drains – it starts to come across a bit too Fusel-like and hot, but thems the breaks with grappa – it’s the drink that’s designed to make you want to barf your gall bladder on digestion. Finish is roasted coffee bitterness and yes, a slight alcohol burn belying that 10.7% ABV. 8/10.

M: Feels dense but at the same time watery (sounds like a contradiction but it’s not), mid to heavy body, flat(ish) carbonation – needs work here. 6/10.

D: Grappa is not the best thing to age a beer in. That said I’m pleasantly surprised by this brew, not FBS surprised, but it certainly wasn’t as bad as I thought it might have been. Plus there’s a really solid base Stout in this Brewfist. 7/10.

Food match: Spaghetti: Western-style (which I imagine has pinto beans and salsa).

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Newstead Brewing Imperial Yirg Stout

Total Score: 8.75/10 Coffee1Vanilla1Wood1Tulipglass1

Funny enough: whilst Green Beacon has all to recently been on the wane as a brewer, Newstead, who I’ve never been a big fan of, are on the ascendancy brewing corkers like their Long Story Wheat Strong Ale, and now this [which I consider – spoiler! – their best brew yet]: Imperial Yirg (Bourbon barrel-aged) Imperial Stout. Which also contains my favourite single-origin coffee: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. So what we have here is my most vaunted of beer styles: a Breakfast beer. Yep, we all know my relationship with Breakfast beers. I love them. Founders Breakfast Stout, Alesmith Speedway Stout, Mikkeller [INSERT: Beer Geek ANYTHING here], Prairie Bomb!, Clown Shoes Barista, Evil Twin Wet Dream… look, what I’m trying to say is that this Imperial Yirg has A LOT of competition. And it totally delivers.

Poured from a 375ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: Reasonably dense-packed tan head that leaves lace splotches as it goes down, almost-black but not totally opaque deep cola-brown body. Looks pretty ominous, as most Imp-Stouts should. 8/10.

S: I wont lie – this has been sitting in the stash cupboard for months awaiting review, so it’s not going to be a fresh coffee aroma, but there is a definite coffee fragrance to it. That Bourbon has really stepped into the limelight though, big woody/vanilla tones, touch of smoke, dark chocolate, oh yeah: coffee too, but comes across more as an espresso coffee aroma than Yirgacheffe. Unfortunately Yirgacheffe is best fresh [here’s a helpful acronym for that: YIBF]. 8/10.

T: Wow, just wow – this is as close as an Aussie brewer has got to that holy grail of beers: FBS. It’s a bit on the punchy side with the vanilla from the barrel, but the rest is so FBS… it’s like a halfway between FBS and KBS: roasted coffee, dark chocolate, that aforementioned vanilla, woody tones, a bit of a red coffee cherry character, mid to light espresso bitterness and a smooth finish. It’s sweet AF too, but we’ll live with that. That 8.3% ABV is pretty well hidden too. This is a classic Brekky Stout. 9/10.

M: Not as good as Founders on the body, but they are the champions of heavy-bodied beers, mid to heavy bodied, light but very dense carbonation. 9/10.

D: Yep, this is Newstead’s best beer EVAAA! I’m stunned that an Aussie brewer like Newstead can come out of nowhere with a dynamite brew like this. That said I’ve always thought that they’re a better dark beer brewer [their APAs/IPAs are forgettable at best]. Top notch Breakfast Stout right here 🙂 9/10.

Food match: Soft-boiled eggs on pumpernickel with boiled asparagus and mayo.

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