It's a new year, and to commemorate a record year in all things beer, I am doing the same thing I do every night --- TRY TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD! Wait...wrong blog. Actually, this month my choice of beer was very simple. It was one that I won in a simple online trivia game over at Beer Advocate (thanks Monica!). Through good fortune and great kindness, someone sent me a fresh 4-pack of one of the most sought after seasonal releases - Founders Brewing Breakfast Stout.
Well, I certainly picked an amazing beer to celebrate the holidays with. I had no idea that something so heavily hyped in beer-nerd circles would live up to the hype and possibly surpass it. Everything this beer claimed to be it was - chocolate, coffee, oats, and a little cinnamon. Quite literally, it is breakfast in a glass. But it wasn't just the layers of savory and sweet flavors that made this beer impressive, its also the drink-ability of it that amazed me. With many stouts, there is often a level of thickness that is great for a pint but not much more than that. And these days, many stouts come barrel-aged and heap on the alcohol making even a full pint sometimes too much. Breakfast Stout however had a wonderful balance of a light finish on each sip that never made me feel as though I was drinking a loaf of bread. One other interesting thing to note with Breakfast Stout was that it got considerably better as it warmed. I had put the beers into the refrigerator before starting my session of consumption. Once I started drinking however, I decided to just take the entire 4-pack out and let them sit as I got to each one. It was one of those rare chilly night here in Los Angeles and I figured even if they reached room temperature, they'd still be perfect for drinking throughout the end of year UFC show. Little did I know that each subsequent beer would only improve. The coffee stood out a little more, the chocolate hung around a little longer, and hints of smoke came through. Its unfortunate that I only had these 4 beers to savor, as Breakfast Stout isn't sold on the West Coast, and I'll likely have to wait until next years release and more generosity from other like-minded alcoholics to get some more.
Founders Breakfast Stout isn't just an impressive tasting beer. It also packs an alcoholic punch with a decent 8.2% abv. Being such a tasty beer, and being so easy to drink, it's a perfect recipe for getting fairly drunk fairly quickly. In this particular session, I found myself succeeding in a slow pace throughout the night. The fact that it was the holidays, that I was off from work, and that I had an epic night of fights to watch on pay-per-view, certainly helped me control the flow of brew. After beers #1 & 2, the level of buzz that set in would have been enough for me to pleasantly call it a night for drinking on any other weekend. But being that I still needed another 12oz to reach my minimum limit and the fact that this was vacation after all, I pressed forward just as the fight of the night was starting. A better decision could not have been made. Not only was the 3rd beer the best of the bunch in taste, but it also sent me into that perfect place where the buzz makes everything warm and fuzzy. The irony that it occurred at the same time a guy was having his face punched open and spilling pints upon pints of blood on a mat for thousands of cheering fans in Las Vegas is not lost on me, but it is appreciated!
When I passed out after an epic heavyweight main event, I wasn't sure what the next day would hold for me. On the one hand, I had a tall glass of water and only drank the minimum allotment of beer for my blog in this session. But on the other hand, this wasn't a weak pale ale or pilsner. This beer had depth to it...both in flavor and alcohol. So when I finally awoke after a cozy night's sleep, I shouldn't have been surprised that the symptoms of a rough day ahead were all present. Pounding headache, check. Woozy stomach, check. Cloudy daze, check. While the standard hangover cocktail of an antacid and Advil helped somewhat, that lingering discomfort chose to stick around for the entire Sunday before New Years. While on any regular Sunday this wouldn't have been to much of a big deal (and doubly so on a vacation-Sunday), I found myself tasked with a list of house repairs, maintenance and upkeep that my wife requested. But, being the super-husband that I am, I pushed through the pain and soldiered on. While this distracted from the obvious hangover Breakfast Stout caused, it didn't make me forget about it when I went to open that final 4th bottle later that night. Thankfully hair of the dog and all that still applies 12+ hours later.
It's easy to see why people in the beer community go nuts for Breakfast Stout. Its not only a good beer, but its pretty cool to consider the idea of actually having a beer for breakfast. While my testing of this particular brew didn't bring me to that length, I could imagine a scenario in the Midwest where you wake up one Sunday morning with 2 feet of snow on the ground, the Packers playing the Vikings, eggs, bacon, and toast ready and waiting for you to dive into. All accompanied by a pint of Founders Breakfast Stout to wash it down. While I'm sure this exact situation actually occurs several times a year somewhere in Michigan, out here in LA, I could only get so close to living that particular American Dream. But I'll absolutely try to achieve that year after year should someone find it in their hearts to continue to send me this great beer each winter.