Founders CBS Imperial Stout | Founders Brewing Company

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Founders CBS Imperial StoutFounders CBS Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.60%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS) is the epitome of why we launched the Backstage Series: to bring some of our most sought-after beers, which have been available primarily at the taproom or at a few select events, to a much larger audience.

Canadian Breakfast Stout is an Imperial Stout brewed with a blend of coffees and imported chocolates, then aged in spent bourbon barrels that have most recently been aging pure Michigan maple syrup.

Added by CRJMellor on 02-01-2009

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Reviews: 990 | Ratings: 4,299
Photo of orangesol
4.54/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served from a bottle at Al's of Hampden into a 5.5oz taster glass. I got a second one just to be sure...

A - Pours jet black with a small half finger tall mocha colored head leaving small webs of lace down the glass.

S - Smells of rich espresso, chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, nuts, maple syrup, and the ever present dark roasted grains. Some booze begins to creep in as it warms, only growing stronger as it comes to room temperature.

T - Starts off with a big, roasty, espresso kick quickly giving way to quite a bit of sweetness; mostly maple syrup, chocolate, and vanilla; and some light bourbon heat. Some light smoke creeps in as the sweetness begins to ween but it never really goes away fully. The finish is a mix of dark roast and sugary sweetness, lingering on the pallet for some time.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Sweet, slightly boozy, feel. Almost syrup like in the finish with plenty of sweetness.

O - There is no doubt that this is one of the best out there. The sweetness is strong but still manageable and even with the high ABV I could still drink a few of these no problem. I still plan to seek this one out on-tap at some point but this was a great introduction.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.57/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter at ChurchKey.

This is why the CK is the baddest-ass bar in the District. Greg, there are no words, baby. This guy pours an Elvis painting black topped by over a finger of lovely dark tan (bordering on actual brown) foam. The nose is loaded with everything good found in big stouts: bourbon, oak, caramel corn, vanilla, maple syrup, molasses, roasted malts, light coffee, chocolate, and brown sugar-cinnamon. What's more interesting is that I could distinctly make out each of these components. Clearly. My 'strils haven't been this happily busy in a long time. And my tongue was not left out of the action. For fear of being overly redundant, everything I listed above came back, in some form or another, in the taste. In addition to a bit more bourbon, some burnt biscuits and heavy dark chocolate notes join in on the fun, while the maple syrup doesn't appear quite as strong as before. Damn, this is some tasty shit! The body has plenty of heft, with a heavy moderate carbonation and a thick, gooey, chewy feel. Overall, one of the best bourbon barrel stouts I've had the pleasure to sample. Believe the hype. 'Nuff said.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.7/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On draft today at Churchkey in D.C. Served in a 10 oz. snifter.

Very near black appearance with a 1/4" dark beige head. Upon swirling the head gets bigger (oh my...), and leaves some generous lacing on the glass.

Aromas of roasted malt, bourbon.

T: Really fabulous stuff. The maple syrup element comes through more prominently in the taste than it does in the aroma. I believe this may be slightly better than KBS (I may or may not have had a KBS near me), but they are both top-notch beers, in my opinion. CBS and KBS are also very similar beers, for the most part. The melding of the barrel and roasted malt flavors is impeccable.

M: Really smooth up front and quaffable...Bang! There's some nice alcohol heat in the finish for you.

D: Fantastic beer and worthy of hype. I hope to enjoy this again, maybe even in bottles? Highly recommended.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.94/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Midnight black. Khaki head sits low with ok lace and retention.

S - Pure and unbelievably rich dark chocolate, caramel, black coffee, and vanilla.

T - Godiva dark chocolate truffles, vanilla, caramel, outstanding oatmeal notes, toffee, and espresso. This is everything it's cracked up to be. Soft maple note on the backend.

M - Stupidly smooth and incredibly rich. Bitter sweet chocolate melting in your mouth.

O - This was stellar on tap. One of the best beers I've ever had.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.85/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

750 mL bottle poured into my CBS snifter. MASSIVE thanks to MarcatGSB for this bottle. I'm still blown away.

Appearance - Dark black body (duh) with a one-finger khaki head. Decent retention and decent lacing. Nice wisps of bubbles on top of the beer.

Smell - Strong coffee aroma, as with KBS. Almost too strong, but the stout shines through enough to temper the coffee. Delicious roast and some maple sweetness in the back.

Taste - Just about perfect. Dark coffee that blends seamlessly with the stout flavors. It's difficult to discern where the coffee ends and the roasted malt begins. Another seamless transition into a maple finish. Finishes slightly sweet, with still a hint of coffee bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Perfect body. I could gulp this down if I didn't want to savor every drop of it. Low, but appropriate carbonation. The flavors linger long enough to make me want to take another sip.

Overall - I need more of this. Holy crap. I can't thank Marc enough for this bottle. Worth the hype and I'd say worth trading through the nose for in the future.

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Photo of stakem
4.35/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well...hello there old friend. It has been awhile. Poured this time from a bottle into a snifter. The brew appears black in color with a brown head that is more than a finger strong. A full wall of webby lacing sticks to the glass. Faint brown clarity is seen through the edges.

The smell is sweet with chocolate, musty coffee, and a dark sweetness of molasses. Very pleasant and roasty with a well rounded character all about it. My only gripe is the coffee scent inclusion does not offer up and brightness or freshness. Instead it is a bit dull and earthy with that stale mustiness of left over coffee quality.

The taste is super pleasant with a smooth, sweet chocolate flavor. Notes of cocoa blend into roasted coffee, molasses sweetness and a hint of fruity alcohol. This brew is modestly bitter and roasty but very well balanced with all the flavor contributions perfectly blending together and not clashing or fighting for attention at all.

This is a medium bodied brew with a smooth feel that is modestly carbonated. Awesome arrangement of flavor. This is super easy drinking, I would have it regularly if that was possible. I would of had zero issues killing the entire bottle and looking for more.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.25/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled at EBF on Saturday afternoon.
Pours thick and black like motor oil with a creamy tan head that sticks around for a while before attaching to my -stache. Smells of coffee and chocolate mostly with bits of earthy hops in there that try in vain to balance the sweetness on this bad boy. The maple aroma is very subtle but there. I pick up little to no barrel aromas. Taste is sweet with tons of coffee chocolate and caramel malts with again faint maple and some earthy spicy hops trying to cut through the sweetness. Thick body with a sweet creamy silky smooth mouthfeel and a light level of carbonation. This is a great beer, but the maple seems very subtle. I remember having this a couple of years ago and thinking it was over mapled. If it didn't cost my first born and require swapping spit with the beer store guy I'd add a few of these to my basement.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.83/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Well, thanks to you (you know who you are), and on a lark I miraculously scored ONE bottle. Coddled and revered with care, poured into a large snifter glass at a good cellar temperature to review. (many comparisons will be made in terms of this vs. on tap).

Appearance is just a flat out knockout mostly because of head formation. A creamy coffee light brown and caramel, small bubbled consistency and forms so nicely. The head has a spectacular character that I have not witnessed before, and pulls the beer over the top in appearance. While holding like a solid stout, in the corner ring collar there is a sheen like film, not gross looking, but like a small soup like skin, that glosses over the edges. The corners of this head with it's hint of legs, and nice leopard lacing, show an edge of just shining polished glass. Just unreal, never seen anything like it. Body color is your standard walnut black/brown, some noticeable carbonation while tilting the glass.

Nose, in comparison on tap, less sweet and way more balanced and enjoyable. Still incredibly roasty and coffee dominant, but a light soft milk sensation and slight sweet cream. Soft notes continue but there is just a faint bit of heat here.

Taste brings a wonderful balance. Coffee dominant but still with a light brown sugar that doesn't overpower. Texture velvety as ever, but palate then gets on the finish miraculously the one thing I have been waiting for in a stout bourbon used barrel. A hint of whiskey. Whiskey angle is not distinct, but there, a slight sense but not so much. Bitterness comes after some warming, mixes with slight boozy spirit whisk(e)y and gives off tobacco just a slight touch. Chocolate, vanilla angles still not quite there, but others I gave it too certainly picked up on chocolate.

Overall, less of a one trick pony out of the bottle, but still coffee dominant and forward but the hint of whisk(e)y just pushes it over the edge, tastes are balanced, varied, highly exploratory, and it's far less sweet which makes it much more tolerable and enjoyable for myself. Just pure magic. I can't say anymore, I drank it all with ease, it was so easy to drink on top of it.

Nothing more needs to be said than has already been.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.65/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap at Acadia Cafe, in a fluted tulip. I hate these, I'd rather have balloon snifter. Waaah.

Solid ebon hue, lovely cocoa-tan head, small, but staying, leaving some lace. Looks the part, gets me anticipating something great!

Aroma: Sweetness in the nose, coffee first, then chocolate, a bit of molasses, here comes the maple...whiskey makes a cameo.

Taste: Big, beefy and brawny, ...chocolate starts it out, slathers itself all over the palate, floats and coats...there's hints of coffee too. Oats bring the smoothness, layer on layer of flavor bring the slickness. Nice roasty character on the palate. This is one big in taste, but not overpowering. The deliciousness in this, however, is through the roof.

Now, on to glass #2. It was so good, I had to have another. And I can't believe they still have this.

Rich, and sweet, but not overly so. Sugary maple mixes with coffee and chocolate, and somewhere in the middle, the bourbon peeps in. It might seem like a cacophony, but there's harmony here. Gets sweeter as we go...but the depth of the flavor makes up for that. An utterly rich and complex stout. Decadent? Oh,yeah. Mmmm, but it's amazingly delicious.

Ends very evenly on the palate. Could never call it dry, but it rounds out, and stays mellow. A definite nightcapper, something to settle down with, and close down your evening in style.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.37/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at the Founders brewpub. Served in a pint glass.

A - By the time I got my glass from the server there was no foam left, so I spied on a glass being poured and noted a half-finger of mocha foam that dissipated quickly with negligible lace. Pitch black.

S - Coffee with cream, maple syrup, a hint of whiskey, roasted malts. It's a lot like regular Breakfast Stout (which is the base beer), but with the obvious maple/whiskey influence.

T - There's a lot more whiskey in the flavor, with a healthy amount of maple syrup, bitter coffee, and roasted malts. Again, it's a slightly richer version of regular Breakfast stout, and the added flavors complement the beer very well.

M - Moderate carbonation the complements the whiskey bite. Medium bodied, very smooth and creamy. It's what I expect from an American Double Stout.

D - The ABV is high, and the flavor is very intense, particularly the coffee bitterness and the whiskey bite. As a result palate fatigue sets in earlier than usual. Other than that, eminently quaffable!

A great variation on an already great beer. Hope this makes it out of the brewpub at some point.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.76/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

On tap, the beer is jet black and thick, with a thin, tan head. Aromas of rich cocoa nibs, coffee, vanilla, hints of maple, woody highlights, and a bourbon undertone. Flavors are rich and sweet forward, with bittersweet chocolate blending perfectly with vanilla and maple. Wow! Backbone of subtle coffee, hints of bourbon, and a building warmth. The body is smooth, creamy, and velvety smooth. There is a candy sweet aftertaste of chocolate, maple, and vanilla. It's like an awesome piece of candy. The finish is amazingly smooth, with a subtle roasted coffee and maple linger. This is an amazing beer!

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Photo of Duff27
4.28/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep thin mocha head on a black stout. Incredible lacing and head retention for the style.

Mostly coffee and chocolate but small whiffs of maple. Basically everything it claims is identifiable.

Very smooth. A lot of coffee and chocolate, the maple syrup was muted. Booziness was pretty well hidden.

Medium to medium low carbonation. Medium mouthfeel for the style.

Excellent beer here. Best ever? Worth all the commotion that went on after its release? With all the different beers out there, who knows. First time I've had CBS is over two years. Thanks 4DAloveofSTOUT!

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Photo of dvmin98
5/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I have had CBS several times at tastings, etc, but this was the first time I've had the cooyans to actually crack open one of my bottles. Enjoyed it with a couple of friends (lucky bastards).

A - Deep brown color with 1/2 inch of head

S - bourbon, coffee, chocolatey

T - best tasting beer I have ever had. I couldn't get enough. I was literally rubbing the glass with my finger to get every last drop. Bourbon, coffee, chocolatey, with sweetness. The maple is just a hint, but just the perfect amount.

M - creamy and thick with a very full body

O - Best beer I have ever had. I have two bottles left and can't wait to open them up and enjoy them, but only for a special occasion.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.72/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Opening night at Birch and Barley / Churchkey, special appearance by a white whale of a beer, Canadian Breakfast Stout from Founders on draft.

Served in a snifter, beer looks as you might expect. Black, thick, brown thin head carbonation low to moderate. Head leaves minimal lacing on the glass.

Aroma is very complex. There is a dominant aroma of cream or milk, with hints of wood, chocolate, sweet, some smoke, and a tiny sour note in there as well.

This is one of the most balanced and drinkable beers I have ever had. Seriously. Mouthfeel is good, not too thick, not thin at all. Flavors line up well with the aroma. The beer warmed a bit, probably around 50 - 55 degrees when I was drinking it. The cream flavors come through, in the back there is some, slight, roast, a good balance for sure. Lots of chocolate and some wood notes.

This beer lived up to the hype for me. If you ever get an opportunity to try it, do it. Its amazing.

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Photo of aasher
3.76/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a full bodied midnight black with dark brown highlights and a beige lacing around my glass. It smells like a Breakfast Stout, a lot of bitter coffee with moderate chocolate. I don't get any bourbon notes at all. The flavors featured are very sweet maple syrup, smooth chocolates, and bitter coffee. It's really not that complex and is overly sweet. It's a maple bomb. I wish it was far more subdued. It drinks medium to full in body. It's a nice drinker but its sooo sweet. It's holding it back. As it stands this beer is vastly overrated and inferior when compared to FBS and KBS. Recognize.

Edit: After having both this and Wide Awake It's Morning, I'm sure the two are related. It makes me want to try the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter to see if it's in the middle.

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Photo of ShanePB
4.68/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Vintage 2011
12 oz pour into a tulip

A: Inky oily jet black body with a creamy, frothy brown head. The dissipation was somewhat slow, but it left huge amount of lacing and a wonderful cap behind. It doesn't really get much better looking than this for the style.

S: Maple syrup, fresh coffee beans, chocolate, caramel, vanilla and some hints of smoke towards the back end. There's an overall sweetness to the nose that brings all the flavors together quite well. Very nice.

T: Lots of maple syrup up-front, along with plenty of bakers chocolate and coffee. There's a oatmeal-like quality that comes through midway. Vanilla and oak towards the back end, with more sweet maple rounding everything out. This drinks so easy and it's incredibly complex; I loved every sip of it.

M: Smooth and creamy with just the right amount of carbonation. Full-bodied and hearty, this is how I want my Imperial Stouts to feel. A bit sticky in its coating.

I also had the 2010 vintage on-tap at the same time. It was good but lost a lot of the maple syrup flavors I thought made the 2011 standout. A wonderful beer made incredibly well, believe the numbers this one is killer.

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Photo of tempest
4.25/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Stub & Herb's in Minneapolis. The only had a 5 gallon keg awaiting a special tapping, but accidentally confused it with the Dirty Bastard and tapped it early. Alas.

Still, I got a small glass and it was a tasty treat. No, it'd didn't change my world or light up my tastebuds like my favorite beers, but I'd easily say it's near the top of the style. You've got a hint of maple syrup with bourbon and vanilla oak, all paired with rich, delicious coffee - and that's before you even get to the malts. The malt actually just provided a gentle, dry dark chocolate flavor behind all the bigger dessert flavors. A heck of beer and very drinkable for the style, but not a best-in-the-world beer in my opinion. Still, very, very good. I can't stress that enough.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
4.67/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A black beer. Period. Creamy off brown head, simple lacing.

Coffee dominant aroma, not quite as strong as the KBS, but this one has more caramel, chocolate and almonds in the background.

Upfront flavor is coffee. Caramel, maple and almond come through in the middle and the end is mostly creamy dark chocolate. Throughout is a soft ripe black plum that provides a bit of a nibble.

Smooth overall. Feel is a touch light for style, yet at 9.4 it's easy to drink.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.79/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at the Tap and Mallet in Rochester, NY. I got 2 5 oz pours.

Pours a fairly dark black, with a small foamy half inch head, and a little bit of lacing.

Smells very strongly of maple, with Hershey's syrup, bourbon, and roasted coffee beans.,

I am finally getting a chance to taste this one, and it tastes exactly like I expected it to taste. Every advertised ingredient is on full display here- syrupy, ultra sweet maple syrup, sweet, creamy chocolate syrup, roasted coffee beans, and sweet bourbon. There is a pretty significant boozy kick on the end of each sip, providing a bit of bitterness to the very sweet flavors up front. I'm not getting a whole lot of roasted malt, but that's likely due to the loads of adjuncts in this one.

This is medium bodied, not quite as thick as I'd like, with a very syrupy mouthfeel. I have the feeling in my mouth that I often have after I eat pancakes. That sort of call-back to a memory I like- eating pancakes- is just one thing that makes this beer really nice. It has a lower level of carbonation, and is really drinkable.

One of the biggest bucket list beers for me is finally crossed off. It is honestly worth the hype, and absolutely amazing. The definition of decadent.

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Photo of WesWes
4.8/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The beer pours a dark black color with a thick frothy brown head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is out of control. It has the regular Breakfast stout scent; chocolate, coffee, oatmeal. It also has a kick ass bourbon aroma with a complimentary maple syrup character. I was told by the owner at EBF that the barrels it aged in were former bourbon barrels soaked in maple syrup. The taste is incredible. It has multiple layers of complexity. The rich chocolate and oatmeal flavors along with a stiff, bitter coffee character, followed up with bourbon and maple syrup flavors. Damn, this is an incredible beer; because of the different tastes involved it's open for folks who don't normally care for dark beers. The mouthfeel is near perfect. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is maybe the best beer on the planet. The KBS was my pick before, but this may overtake it.

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Photo of liamt07
4.4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Founders 15th Anniversary Party, served in a snifter MANY times over.

Black with a medium brown head, leaves a ring of retention and dense lacing. Nose of hazelnut, light maple, bourbon, cocoa and bakers chocolate. Taste has more bourbon, maple, chocolate, rum soaked raisins and more hazelnut. Mouthfeel is medium heavy, but not as heavy as I expected. Great flavour all around - the highlight of the anniversary party, end up having about half a dozen servings of this.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.32/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to thirdeye11 for sharing this hand bottle.

The beer pours black with no head. There are a few tan bubbles floating on the surface of the beer. The aroma is great. I get notes of maple syrup, oak, chocolate and roasted malt. The flavor is equally impressive. There is a lot of maple, vanilla, chocolate milk, coffee, roasted malt and the slightest hint of soy sauce. Low carbonation and medium to thick mouthfeel. A great beer that lived up to the hype. Hopefully I will get to try this again.

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Photo of BillRoth
5/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this at the brewpub, and at first thought it was very good ( as claimed/reported). But as it warmed slightly it began to evolve into a delicious highly (dangerously) drinkable draft. I have had many Founders brews, but this was so exceptional, and so remarkable that I now believe this is as goos as it gets. It has an exceptionally good nose, followed by a perfect mouth. The flavor is, let's face it, just out and out delicious. Hints of vanilla and wood, then the maple...soft, subtle but not overwhelming...just perfectly complementary.
I may have to move to Michigan!

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.64/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Founders CBS

Pours a dark tar black with a small short
livid head. Aroma of coffee, booze, syrup and chocolate. In the taste, aggressive bourbon, roast, coffee, oak and a pronounced alcohol burn. The stout qualities are there, with a black roast flavor and boozey barrel notes. At the end of the sip there is a sugary residual sweetness due to the maple syrup, along with an astringent bitterness from the hops, coffee and bourbon. Mouthfeel is full bodied and well carbonated. Overall, a treat of a beer and worth seeking. Enjoyed at Fat Heads Brewers Brunch 2011.

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Photo of dar482
4.71/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The beer comes in a oily black color.

The aroma hits of bitter coffee, chunky chocolate, maple syrup sweetness, bourbon sweetness.

The beer hits of milk chocolate and vanilla throughout, combined with a strong bitter coffee and coffee ground flavor. Dried date and plum comes in the middle as the sweetness of the maple blends with the base beer to create complexities. Towards the end, maple sweetness takes over battles that aggressive bitter coffee flavor.

In the end, this is very much KBS with maple syrup and the maple sure does help cover up the flaws of KBS.

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Founders CBS Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Company
4.63 out of 5 based on 4,299 ratings.
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