I’ve never been much of a drinker before noon, but it did occur to me recently — as someone handed me a wide-brimmed coffee mug filled with frothy-topped Founders Breakfast Stout — that day drinking isn’t such a bad idea after all. And this would be the beer I’d choose to accompany my sunrise.
This popular hit was created after the Grand Rapids brewery’s cofounder washed down a chocolate-covered espresso bean with a sip of porter. Real dark chocolate, two kinds of coffee, and lots of oats are used in crafting what is an exceptionally balanced and complex brew. I taste every element of the mix here in dark harmony, the chocolate adding bittersweet richness to the fresh coffee’s roasty edge and acidity, and the malty body softened by oats that add an extra layer of creaminess to the texture — not to mention more proof that this beer really is a well-rounded breakfast in a bottle.
One bar in the area, the Greeks Next Door in Narberth (237 Haverford Ave.), is pouring a rare keg of the Canadian Breakfast Stout variation, which is aged in barrels that once held maple syrup. (If only a stack of pancakes were complimentary …) A boozy Kentucky version of the breakfast stout (KBS) aged in bourbon barrels is a high-octane (11.8 percent alcohol) and highly anticipated seasonal release that’s due to hit the region around April 1. Like all good special-edition brews, that one will disappear quickly. But rise and shine, drinkers, with this bit of good news: Founders’ regular Breakfast Stout, which until now had been a seasonal that trickled out around December, has just been transformed into a year-round offering for 2018. So if you see me raising my trusty “coffee” mug with a toast to the new year, you’ll know why.
— Craig LaBan
Founders Breakfast Stout is widely available, and currently $6.50 a glass at the Pub on Passyunk East (1501 E. Passyunk Ave.), $5.50 on nitro at World of Beer (102 Main St., Suite 100, Exton); $10.29 for a four-pack at Bells Beverage (2809 S. Front St.), and $16 for a 64 oz. growler at Hawthornes (738 S. 11th St.)