Founder’s Breakfast Stout: Don’t drink this for breakfast

By Emily Brightman

Flickr/Bernt Rostad
Flickr/Bernt Rostad

There’s something to be said for that hackneyed adage about breakfast being “the most important meal of the day.” From a physiological perspective, any meal that provides nutrition is of a certain importance, so it seems almost counterintuitive to give that distinction to just one specific type of fare. However, since the first food we shovel into our face in the morning usually dictates the course of our intestinal functions for the day, perhaps a certain respect is due to this first meal.

As regular readers of this column will recall, I am something of a fiend for a good cup of coffee. I say in jest that my typical breakfast is a strong brew, and while this is not entirely true, the fact of the matter is that my morning meal feels conspicuously vacuous without at least two cups of java poured down my gullet. So it goes without saying that coffee-infused beers make frequent appearances in my column, and even more frequent appearances in my fridge. The latest guest to grace my beer stash was the Founder’s Breakfast Stout, and from a symbolic perspective, there was something ironic and picturesque about seeing a six-pack case labeled “breakfast” sitting comfortably next to some eggs and orange juice in my fridge. In that context, the beer seemed right at home.

First off, let me be clear that I am in no way advocating the notion of beer for breakfast. Despite what the nostalgic diaries of washed-up glam-rock stars may suggest, there is really nothing glamorous about day-drinking, not even to cure a hangover. The Founder’s Brewing Company, based in Grand Rapids, Mich. dubbed this brew the “Breakfast Stout” not because it is an essential part of a balanced breakfast, but because it is made from brewed Kona and Sumatra coffees and flaked oats, which themselves are classic breakfast elements. Despite the gleeful visage of the portly child on the beer’s label gorging himself on what is surely a hearty meal, at 8.3 percent alcohol, Breakfast Stout is not the kind of beverage to best accompany a plate of scrambled eggs in the morning. However, if you’re the kind of nocturnal grazer that only eats eggs after sundown, Breakfast Stout might just be up your alley.

I first got into Founder’s Brewing Company through their Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale, which was one of the first craft beers to spark my interest in the art of the brew. Several years and many six-packs, I feel a certain twinge of excitement in reviewing one of their brews for this column that serves as a vehicle for my love of all things beer related. Certainly I’ve gotten more than enough enjoyment out of mere imbibing, but getting the copious amounts of craft beer that I consume to work for me on a professional platform is a unique pleasure all its own. If nothing else, I can at least justify the expenses of my weekly beer budget for more than just purposes of my own intoxication.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a beer snifter, Breakfast Stout pours out pitch black and begets a frothy tan head that hardly dissipates, even after several minutes. In terms of body, this beer is undeniably a stout—the distinctly thick characteristic of the brewing style is readily apparent in this beer when swirled around in the glass. The aromas that waft from the lip of the glass are equal parts strong and sweet, combining the crisp scents of coffee and milk chocolate balanced out by an under-layer of bready malt. For taste, this beer is quite literally a mouthful, between the thickness of the stout body and the sharp bite of bitter coffee. Though the taste palate in general rides the wave of chocolate-infused malt, there is a definite earthy sensation in the aftertaste that finishes on a note of something akin to molasses. Overall, the mouth feel is enjoyably creamy and reminiscent of oatmeal without relying too heavily on thickness to push its credibility. Though the noticeable lack of carbonation certainly puts this beer on the more filling side, the sensation in general is of drinking a well-rounded stout that adheres to the classical style with flavorful creativity.

As would be expected from the implication of the title, Breakfast Stout makes a surprisingly tasty accompaniment to a hearty helping of scrambled eggs, and I know this for certain because I am one of the aforementioned “nocturnal grazers” who takes pleasure in the simple joy of cooking eggs at midnight. Regardless of what conventional standards imply, few things are as ostensibly satisfying as eating a breakfast-style meal long after the sun goes down, mealtime canon be damned. If this kind of convention-warping is just your style, I recommend Breakfast Stout as a companion to any meal that falls more on the salty or spicy side, so as to balance it out with the sweetness of the beer. Also, as with many beers of the stout persuasion, Breakfast Stout also makes a tasty accompaniment to any meat-heavy dish or heartier dessert involving chocolate. Or, if the temptation to drink Breakfast Stout along with your morning joe is just too overwhelming, this beer is yet another flavor bomb that stands just fine on its own. I am not suggesting that it should be used to replace a meal in its entirety, but there are certainly enough flavors in this brew to constitute a full morning meal.

If, like me, you often find yourself trying to reconcile your love of beer with your love of coffee, Breakfast Stout is one of those rare craft beers that provides you with equal opportunity to indulge in both. Breakfast Stout is certainly an excellent reminder of the importance of a balanced breakfast, even if that balance is only in reference to malt composition.

Emily A. Brightman can be reached at [email protected]