Craft Beer Scene Around Rockford: Founders Brewing’s Breakfast Stout will make you an immediate fan

By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers

Greetings, fellow beer geeks.

This week, I’m jumping the gun a bit, as I would like to talk about a beer that is better suited for the dark and cold months of winter, kinda like last week. BRRRR! But this one is so good that I just can’t wait. I can still remember the first time I tried it and became an immediate fan. This beer is Breakfast Stout brewed by Founders Brewing Co.

Founders Brewing Co. was founded in 1996 as John Pannell Brewing Co. by homebrewing enthusiasts Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers, who had recently graduated from college and held steady jobs. Mike and Dave changed the company’s name to Canal Street Brewing Co. in 1997. The company was named after a Grand Rapids area where in the 1800s several breweries were located; Canal Street is now named Monroe Avenue. The bottle labels originally included an old black-and-white photo of the original Canal Street breweries with the word “Founders” above it. Thus, the company became known as Founders Brewing Company.

Breakfast Stout is an American Double Stout available October through December weighing in with an impressive 8.3 percent alcohol by volume. The website describes this as “The coffee lover’s consummate beer. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, and Sumatra and Kona coffee, this stout has an intense fresh-roasted java nose topped with a frothy, cinnamon-colored head that goes forever.”

The bottle artwork has a young child with a napkin fashioned around his neck as a bib, eating what looks to be oatmeal or porridge from a bowl. I’m a bit surprised the “politically correct” idiots have not cried foul about this, a child on a beer bottle. HA!

I am using a tulip glass, as a nonic pint just seems too ordinary for this brew. The pour is a black onyx color that traps any light trying to pass through like a cosmic black hole. A two-finger depth of thick and creamy tan (or is that cinnamon?) head tops this darkness and stubbornly settles to a thin collar, leaving a heavy lacing. A very handsome beer, I must say.

The aroma of this beer jumps out of the glass, featuring roasted coffee beans, roasted malts of a hearty stout and dark chocolate. Alcohol is faintly detectable as the beer warms.

The first taste hits you with an unbelievable Kona coffee flavor, then dark chocolate perfectly complements the coffee moving into an earthy/herbal hop bitter finish. I believe I get some dark fruit and smoky flavor nestled in between the chocolate and the finish. The alcohol is barely detectable, and I find myself sipping uncontrollably.

The viscosity creates a mouth feel that is creamy, thick and silky, making it as smooth as a Barry White or Marvin Gaye song. The small bitterness bite and a touch of dryness at the finish complement the upfront full body, as good stouts most often do.

Overall impression … holy s—, this beer rocks! If I were on life support, they could just main line it into my arm with an IV. I could see a plate of bacon, eggs and potatoes to go along with this or an after-dinner cigar. The trick to this beer is not to drink it too fast, as this gets better as it warms. If you really like coffee, you will absolutely love this beer. However, if you are not a coffee drinker, you likely wouldn’t be a huge fan of it. In my opinion, this is perfect on a cold winter night, near the fireplace.


Michael Sears is the president of the Forest City Brewers. The Forest City Brewers is a home-brewing club dedicated to the art of finely-crafted beer. The club meets on the first Wednesday of each month at Thunder Bay Grille on East State Street. For more about Forest City Brewers, go to If you have comments or recommendations, please contact Mike at

From the Nov. 19-25, 2014, issue

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