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CBS

 

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Founders announced today that they will release Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS), an imperial coffee chocolate stout aged in maple bourbon barrels, as the final release in the 2018 Barrel-Aged Series. CBS is one of the most sought-after releases in the world. This is the second year in a row the brewery has released CBS

Fans may notice that CBS’s label is missing a key, iconic element this year. The Mountie has been removed but the feel of the original label is maintained with an image of a bucking horse against a forested background.

“We’ve been ramping up our barrel-aged program over the past few years and it’s allowed us to expand our offerings,” said President and Co-Founder, Dave Engbers. “We’re so excited to announce that CBS will be available for the second year in a row. The beer enthusiasts have been very vocal about their love for this beer and we’re happy we can accommodate. It’s what we love to do.”

The highly anticipated beer was first brewed after Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki stumbled upon bourbon barrels that had previously housed maple syrup. Adding the same base beer as Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS), CBS was born. Rich maple syrup, roasted coffee and velvety chocolate meld together in this barrel-aged beer to create a transcendental drinking experience.

CBS is the sixth and final release in the brewery’s 2018 Barrel-Aged Series, preceded by KBSBackwoods BastardDankwood, Barrel Runner and Curmudgeon’s Better Half. General Admission CBS ticket sales begin on October 12 at 10am. Current Detroit and Grand Rapids Mug Club Members should check their email for member-exclusive bottle ticket pre-sale details. Pickup from both taproom locations begins on November 1 and goes through November 4. CBS will be available in all markets on draft and in bottles beginning November 2 and will have a suggested retail price of $24.99/750 mL bottle. Please note that price will vary by market.

About Founders Brewing Co.

Established in 1997 by two craft beer enthusiasts—Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens—with day jobs and a dream, Founders Brewing Co. brews complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics and tons of flavor. Founders ranks among the top 10 largest craft breweries in the U.S. and is one of the fastest growing. The brewery has received numerous awards from the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival and RateBeer and BeerAdvocate users often rate its beers among the best in the world. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, Founders is a proud member of the Michigan Brewers Guild.

 

 

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We’ll admit, on occasion, it’s really good to be us. Founders Brewing Co. did something they rarely do, and we had the honor to be a part of it. They broke character, and extended an exclusive invitation to a very short list of trusted writers and photographers in craft media across the U.S. to peek behind the curtain at what makes them and what they do so unique.

Unprecedented, they offered a private tour of the caves where all of their Barrel-aged Series and experimental one-offs hibernate until Jason Heystek, VP Lead Guitar, and Jeremy Kosmicki, Brewmaster, say, “They’re ready.”

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Jason Heystek & Jeremy Kosmicki,

The caves—yes, literal caves—are naturally held between 40°-55° F, perfect for cellaring beer. Founders has access to a figurative gold mine, spiderwebbed throughout old gypsum mines approximately 85’ underground, somewhere beneath the streets of Grand Rapids. Well, we know where they’re located. With a little Googling, the savvy can find them, too. But. Unless you know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy, you’re not getting in, or in the elevator.

We spent the day rubbing elbows with Founders’ founders, Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers, talking 20 years of history filled with hits and their fair share of misses, but zero regrets.

cellar

Mike Stevens & Dave Engbers

Heystek and Kosmicki were our personal tour guides. With screwdriver and rubber mallet in rubber-gloved hands, Heystek casually displayed why he’s the man. Repeatedly dipping a barrel thief (sanitized every time, we might add) into vintages of popular limited releases being secretly aged in brandy or scotch scotch barrels, experimental recipes with fruit and salt in gin barrels, or KBS (who cares what year?!), Heystek let us drink straight from the barrel beer that most people will never know existed. We were only able to drink after we picked our jaws up off the floor. We can say now that, at the time, we saw barrels of CBS, but weren’t able to talk about it. They even made us prick our finger and sign an NDA. Trust us, it took everything we had not to spill the beans.

After we reemerged, we also visited Founders’ new production facility, which defies comprehensible size. Let’s just say it’s big enough to house some of the estimated 15,000 barrels from the caves when they’re finally ready to see Founders’ Taproom, or hit distribution—if the rest of the world is as lucky as Grand Rapids.

We were gifted an experience you can’t put a price tag on. We’re talkin’ Golden Ticket access: level Charlie Bucket. Here’s proof.

 

Photography: Steph Harding

 

cadre

On December 1, 2017, Founders Brewing Co. quenched the long-endured thirst of beer nerds internationally with the rerelease of CBS, otherwise known as Canadian Breakfast Stout. Originally released in 2011 on draft and in 22oz bottles, in 2014 in limited quantity as draft-only across the U.S., and quietly at random in their Grand Rapids taproom if you were in line at the right place at the right time, CBS’s reputation and allure have preceded it for years—and for good reason. I mean c’mon, its base beer is KBS, transformed and sweetened by being aged in bourbon barrels that also previously nestled maple syrup.  

In what has been a rather impressive display celebrating their 20 years with zero regrets, CBS was Founders’ climax to the six beers they released this year as part of their newly branded Barrel-Aged Series. They teased the rumors that had already been subtly circulating for months that this elusive 11.7% stout was making an official return. Founders activated a creative way to connect to the masses via a respectably labor intensive social media campaign, unveiled first only to members of the Cadre.

founders cbs

Founders’ philosophy : “We don’t brew beer for the masses. Our beers are crafted for a chosen few, a small cadre of renegades and rebels…”

Francesca Jasinski, Founders’ Communications Manager, says, “We decided to form the Cadre as a way to reward our biggest fans with exclusive content, early access to news, opportunities to attend events and more.” While their Mug Club serves the local fan base, the Cadre, Jasinski explains, “is meant to serve our fans who are all around the country (and world). We recognize that many of them do not have the benefit of visiting the Taproom frequently enough to justify our Mug Club membership.

founders cbs

In an email sent to the 5,800 Cadre members on October 21, Founders told them, “Keep an eye on your mailbox – 1,000 of you will be receiving a package that contains a clue to what our sixth and final Barrel-Aged Series beer of 2017 is. Because you are our most loyal followers, we thought it would be fun to get you involved in the announcement process.” Founders snail-mailed out sets of mini flags—one Founders, one Canadian, and asked Cadre members to post photos of both flags to Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #FoundersBarrelAgedSeries. And finally, the rumors were true. Or, at least we could assume.

Since the launch of the teaser campaign, the Cadre grew to over 7,900 strong. Founders invited us to attend the CBS release party at their taproom on December 1, where we got to meet a few of them who were either in line early to get one of the first draft pours of CBS 2017 or to claim their allocation of two 750ml bottles per person of this 100-point bucket list beer of capped goodness.

 

Doug McDowall, 65, Brampton, Ontario, Canada, @dougzone

MittenBrew: I’d be surprised if you got up this morning in order to make the drive from Canada to be the first guests in line for the Taproom.

McDowall: It’s not a bad drive, five hours. We got in last night, and got a hotel in town. And once Founders pulled everyone from this line—those who got here way early so they could join their Mug Club—we were the lucky Canadians left at the front of the line.

Did you make the drive solely for the chance to have CBS on draft, or were you one of the lucky ones to who secured bottles in advance online?

Both. But, we’re going to try it first on draft to make sure it’s any good. [McDowall laughs.]

founders cbs

What are your plans for the bottles?

They’re going back to Canada. I’ll share one with my sons and grandsons and their wives during Christmas. The other will be cellared until, hopefully, Founders releases it again.

Why did you join the Cadre?

I think I remember hearing about it before KBS was released in 2016, and wanted to make sure I got the early news about future bottle releases first. After Founders announced the Barrel-Aged Series, I was anticipating that they’d hopefully announce CBS as the final installment.

Have you ever had CBS before?

[Laughing…] I’ve been to Founders four times—today, plus three previous trips for the annual KBS release party. When I was here in ‘16, you happened to interview me while you were filming Modern Ahabs, and were kind enough to tip me off that I should probably get in line immediately because Founders might be getting ready to tap a “certain rare Canadian” beer. So yeah, I’ve had it once before today, thanks to you. [McDowall smiles.]

Wow. I remember you, Doug. That’s awesome.

By chance, are you a Founders Mug Club member?

No, but that’s only due to proximity. However,  getting the Cadre’s emails gives me the opportunity to decide whether or not I should make the trip. And, when it’s something like CBS, it’s worth the trip.

When are you heading home?

Right after lunch and a couple pours of CBS. We have to be back tonight for a concert in Windsor.

founders cbs

Being a Cadre member from Canada, Founders surely sent you the two flags as part of their social media campaign, right?

Sadly, no, but I would’ve been proud to receive and display them appropriately.

Before we interviewed Doug, who was proudly donning a red hockey sweater with a prominent white maple leaf, he was making friends with others in line by giving out little Canadian flag pins. Once we wrapped this assignment and before we left Founders for the day, we swung by his table in the Taproom to say goodbye. Steph Harding, MittenBrew owner/publisher and photog badass, casually gifted her two Cadre flags to Doug. It was a spontaneous gesture for a really good guy. Standing adjacent to both of them, I watched Doug’s eyes nearly tear up in sincere appreciation, and give Steph one of the warmest hugs I’ve ever seen. Then he made good on his word, and displayed both flags with honor in the middle of his table.

 

Mike Walton, 35, Grand Rapids, MI, @mwalton82

MittenBrew: You responded to Founders’ outreach to the Cadre, asking if members who received the flags would be hip to telling us about their experience. Why’d you join?

Walton: I was tipped off either by something Founders or a friend posted on Facebook. I wanted to be the first to know what’s going on—when beers are coming out, what unique events they’re hosting, what’s happening in the Taproom that I might otherwise miss as a casual guest.

founders cbsWhat’d you do with the flags after you posted a photo to social media?

I actually displayed them at home during Thanksgiving. And, some of the Likes I got on the photo on Instagram were from people I didn’t know, which I thought was cool.

How else have you taken advantage of what Founders offers to the Cadre?

I love the recipes they share. I’ve made their beer cheese, their Dirty Bastard turkey recipe. I love learning how to use their beer creatively with food. There’s a lot of educational value that the Cadre provides.

Has your name been picked for access to other special events or promotions for the Cadre?

I’ve definitely applied, but haven’t had my name drawn for anything else yet, but that’s cool. I get it—Founders is in demand. Everything they do is good stuff.

You got your two bottle of CBS. What are you going to do with them?

Share one with friends who might not be able to get any, and store the other for something special. I’m not stopping at two though. I’ll keep my eyes peeled around town for a few more.

Have you had CBS before?

Fortunately, yes, a few times. I’ve been in GR for almost 20 years, so when you’re in the Taproom at the right place at the right time and you see them slap the sign up on the draft list chalkboard, you don’t hesitate. You just order it. It’s a no-brainer.

founders cbs

Are you also a Mug Club member?

Not currently, but I’ll be here in line early next year to sign up.

Update: Mike stopped us later that morning to tell us that he did, in fact, end up snagging a spot in Founders’ Mug Club for 2018. But, we’re not supposed to tell his wife, so “Shh!”

 

Jacob Zars, 31, Grand Rapids, MI, @jacobzars

MittenBrew: You’re drinking out of an Founders Mug Club mug. This must not be your first rodeo.

Zars: No, sir. I’ve already renewed for the fourth year in a row. This mug is dedicated to my oldest son, and I’ll get my next mug etched in honor of my second son. My plan is to bring both boys to Founders for their first beer when they each turn 21 so they can immediately drink out of their own personalized mug which I will have had for nearly their entire lives.

And you’re a member of the Cadre?

Absolutely. I wanted to get those inside tips directly from the source instead of waiting for the rest of the world to hear it before me.

founders cbs

You got the flags, too?

I did, but… Before I got a chance to take a proper photo of them and post it to social media, my son got ahold of them, and… well, the rest is history.

How else have you engaged with Founders as a member of the Cadre?

I love having access to some of their invite-only experiences. I just went to their recent beer and cheese pairing, which was awesome. I love going to anything in the Centennial Room [Founders’ private event space on the second floor of the Taproom]. I even had my college graduation party and the rehearsal dinner for my wedding there. It’s just a great thing to be a part of—getting a chance at something that sometimes might not happen anywhere else.

What’s been your experience with CBS before today?

I’ve been really fortunate to have it a number of times. Of course, I was first attracted to it because… well… KBS. It’s just a natural progression.

What are your plans with your bottles?

Sharing them with friends and family. I’m also going to make the rounds to some of my favorite bottle shops around the city to pick up bottles for friends, including some guys I know in Canada who are already scouting 12oz bottles for me.

Any parting words for what sounds like a brewery you hold in high regard?

Founders has been near and dear to my heart for years. When you visit, it’s just the coolest place to gather with your family and friends, and you’re always surrounded by the friendliest faces.

 

Anthony Reed, 33, Grand Rapids, MI,

MittenBrew: You seem pretty excited to have just joined Founders’ Mug Club.

Reed: I’ve been trying to sign up for years, but kept missing my opportunity because of weddings out of town and other stuff that just comes up. But today’s been great! I got my first coveted spot in the Club, got to try the new batch of CBS on draft, and picked up a few bottles.

As Ice Cube would say…

Looks like you snagged four bottles of CBS. Where are they going?

Both my wife and I got tickets just in case I couldn’t track down any bottles elsewhere. I’ve also got a couple other bottles at the ready from some of my local stores that I keep a solid relationship with. And, I’ve already got plans to crack open at least one bottle at a Christmas party beer exchange next week. I’ll save one for my brother-in-law who’s always on the move with the Air Force, and the rest are going in the cellar for some sweet days to come.

founders cbs

Have you had CBS before today?

A few times. Easily one of my top five favorite beers. The first time was a few years ago at Founders’ Black Party. It absolutely blew my mind. I was hooked.

Why’d you join the Cadre?

CBS. [Laughing]

We’re not exactly sure just how much CBS was brewed, kegged, and packaged this year (a lot more, it seems, than in years past, likely thanks to their recent barrelhouse expansion), but we’re okay with there still being some mystique surrounding how hard we’ll have to hustle to get our lips on some (more).

 

founders

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., November 6, 2017 – Founders announced today that they will release Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS), an imperial coffee chocolate stout aged in maple bourbon barrels, as the final release in the 2017 Barrel-Aged Series. Last bottled in 2011, CBS is one of the most sought-after releases in the world.

“Well, the rumors are true. CBS will make its long-awaited return this December,” said Co-Founder and President, Dave Engbers. “It would be irresponsible for us to not release CBS again. The beer enthusiasts who have supported our brands throughout the years are vocal and their message is heard loud and clear. We could not be happier to bring back this beloved beer… they speak, we listen.”

The highly anticipated beer was first brewed after Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki stumbled upon bourbon barrels that had previously housed maple syrup. Adding the same base beer as Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS), CBS was born. Rich maple syrup, roasted coffee and velvety chocolate meld together in this barrel-aged beer to create a transcendental drinking experience.

CBS is the sixth and final release in the brewery’s leading-edge Barrel-Aged Series, preceded by FrootwoodKBSDoomDKML, and Backwoods Bastard. CBS will be available in all markets as well as in the Founders Brewing Co. taproom on draft and in 750mL bottles beginning on December 1. CBS will have a suggested retail price of $24.99/750mL bottle.

 

About Founders Brewing Co.
Established in 1997 by two craft beer enthusiasts—Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens—with day jobs and a dream, Founders Brewing Co. brews complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics and tons of flavor. Founders ranks among the top 20 largest craft breweries in the U.S. and is one of the fastest growing. The brewery has received numerous awards from the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival and RateBeer and BeerAdvocate users often rate its beers among the best in the world.

About the Barrel-Aged Series
Crafting legendary barrel-aged beers is an exercise in patience. We start by brewing complex, world-class beer worthy of time in a barrel. Then, our experience and years spent mastering our craft means we know exactly when it’s been aged to perfection. After one sip, you’ll know – it was worth the wait.

GRAND RAPIDS — Guests of the 14th Annual Black Party enjoyed the best of Founders’ usual black beers, plus a few new surprise brews.

One of the big stars of the tap list this year was Lizard of Koz, an 11.1% ABV stout brewed with chocolate, vanilla and blueberries, then aged in oak bourbon barrels. Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki co-created the non-barrel aged base beer as a birthday present for his sister, along with her husband who also works at Founders.

They were planning to surprise her with it, but the blueberry flavors were still coming through too tart when her birthday came along in December.

“I offered up the great solution of ‘throw it in a bourbon barrel, wait a couple months’ because that always works. So we did that and we were late for her birthday but the beer was much better for it. A good time to bring it out was for the Black Party here and everybody appreciated it,” Kosmicki said.

Kim Leshinski, beer blogger for Hail To The Ale, and her boyfriend Ken Getty stumbled upon the Black Party serendipitously.

“We were coming up for the weekend just to get away. We downloaded the Founders app to see what was on tap and saw the Black Party event and realized this was our lucky day!” Leshinski said.

Her favorite beer of the event? “KBS, fresh; hands down better than any I’ve had in bottles.”

People were also excited about Rye Death, a 10.8% ABV ryewine brewed with a lot of rye, and midnight wheat malt for color.

“I wanted to make a black wheatwine, but we were really short on wheat malt that week so we ended up going with rye instead.” Kosmicki said.

Live music began early in the evening and continued into the night featuring several acts. Perhaps the most notable was the annual black set performed by Oracle, starring Kosmicki, his wife Jamie, and Brewing Materials Manager “Diamond” Deschaine. Songs with “black” in the title or by artists such as Black Sabbath rocked the enthusiastic crowd.

No official word on if or when the legendary beer Black Biscuit (released several years ago) could make a return to the tap list. Plenty of conversations mentioning it were overheard throughout the day. Speculation abounds each year, and maybe it will eventually reappear, but no information has been publicly released at this time.

8.7% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Black with a small head.
Aroma: Bourbon, vanilla and caramel.
Taste: Strong maple and vanilla flavors. Sweet, but the flavors work very well together.
Mouthfeel: Smooth but strong bodied.

Founders’ Panther Cub, an exclusive for the brewery’s Black Party that took place Saturday, is a smooth, sweet barrel aged brew with lots of character. Aged in maple syrup barrels for a year, this brew features lots of vanilla, as well as the maple flavors that Founders has made famous with its highly exclusive CBS. The smaller ABV makes it a bit more drinkable than your typical barrel aged brews, but the qualities and warmth that define much of Founders’ specialty brews is certainly present in Panther Cub as well.

GRAND RAPIDS — Canadian Breakfast Stout will be the second release in Founders Brewing Co.’s Backstage Series, according to Vice President/Director of Marketing Dave Engbers.

The brew hits retail shelves Oct. 3 (in 750-milliliter bottles) with a taproom release party on Oct. 1.

There has been a great deal of anticipation and speculation regarding the second Backstage release after the success of Blushing Monk, the series debut, this summer. I spotted a bottle of Blushing Monk on a Grand Rapids grocery store shelf and snagged it for just under $14.

While it wasn’t what I expected, the brew at least meets its hype. Deep, blood-red in appearance, it captures both the sweet and sour elements of raspberry (so apparent in the first sniff) with a prickly carbonation that makes it sit on the tongue like a champagne.

Blushing Monk is certainly more sweet than sour. Founders’ signature, in my book, is its ever-apparent hoppy-ness. With Blushing Monk, the hops are there, but the powerful sweet raspberry flavor makes them very hard to detect and leaves almost no bitter aftertaste. Overall, it’s not your typical “beer beer,” but it certainly pleases the palate. I can see why it was chosen as one of the Backstage releases.

As for Canadian Breakfast Stout, it seems the logical choice as the second release in the series — it’s popular at many beer festivals, but you have to go to the taproom (and at the right time) for a taste of CBS.

Canadian Breakfast Stout is an Imperial Stout brewed with a blend of coffees and imported chocolates, then aged in spent bourbon barrels (most recently used to age pure Michigan maple syrup). The final product has had stellar reviews and is currently the fifth-highest rated beer in the world on www.BeerAdvocate.com.

The Backstage Series gives drinkers a chance to uncap at home some of the brewery’s “more eclectic beers that have historically only been available on the tap” at Founders and bars where kegs are distributed, Engbers says.

The series is dubbed “Backstage” because the releases are limited — and a response to the brewery’s diehard fans.

“To us, it’s kind of using the brewery as the stage,” Engbers says, making these brews backstage. “Releasing small specialty batches is a great way for us to connect to our core beer enthusiast.”

The company is not revealing any additional releases in the series, but Engbers says they will consist of many of the “popular one-offs” offered in the taproom over the years that are favorites among patrons and brewery staff. The company expects to release one more product in the 2011 Backstage Series later this year.

“I think part of what people love about Founders — besides our beer — is that we listen to what they are saying,” President Mike Stevens says. “With our new line, now we can offer them more of what they’ve been asking for.”

 


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