White Whale: Founders CBS Imperial Stout

Founders CBS Imperial Stout is a white whale. What is a white whale? I’m glad you asked. Beer drinkers and beer collectors tend to prefer drinking and buying rare beers. For this example, I will use beers from Founders Brewing Co.

Founders brews a lot of different beers, including Centennial IPA, Founders Porter, Dirty Bastard, All Day IPA… The list goes on. Those beers are easy to find and are available year-round. They also make several seasonal beers, including the Black RyeRübæus and Breakfast Stout. Those are fairly easy to find, but are limited depending on the time of year. Then they make specialty beers including Dark Penance, Imperial Stout and Double Trouble. Those are much harder to find, but with a little patience you can easily score a bottle. Then they release some limited beers including KBS, Devil Dancer, Harvest Ale and Backwoods Bastard. Those beers are much harder to find, and some might consider those beers whales… You see them from time to time, but not very often. Then comes the white whale…

White whales are beers that you never see. They are usually brewed and released only once, and are here today gone tomorrow. Beers from Founders in this category include Blushing Monk, first brewed in 2011 and brewed again in 2015, Bolt Cutter, Curmudgeon’s Better Half, Doom, Dissenter Imperial IPL and Big Lushious. But one beer they brewed in 2011 that some might lose a limb for is CBS, or Canadian Breakfast Stout.

This beer is the epitome of why Founders launched the Backstage Series, the series that includes all of the white whales mentioned above. They wanted to bring some of their most sought-after beers, which have been available primarily in their taproom, to a much larger audience. CBS 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. Sounds pretty good, right?

CBS was bottled once and for all I could tell, the beer was never going to be bottled again. But kegs of it were released this year, and they have been popping up at beer events nationwide. 5 of those kegs are coming to Arizona, and 1 of those kegs happened to be tapped at Ground Control, a fun bar in Litchfield Park that I enjoy visiting. I enjoy seeing Ian Harwell, too! (Ian works there and is the only reason I know what and where Ground Control is!) They tapped that, along with a few others, on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

I left work on Tuesday and went straight for Ground Control. They were serving CBS along with KBS, Imperial Stout and Breakfast Stout in a flight for only $12. That is a great price for a flight with such rare beers. I hadn’t had the 2015 KBS, and had recently enjoyed a bottle from 2014 at a tasting, so I was excited to try it again. I will say, though, I have never liked KBS. This batch was good, but nothing I am going out of my way to find.

We met my buddy Mike at Ground Control. He saved us a seat. Brian and Michelle showed up later that night, and the place was filled with Valley beer nerds all trying to get a sip of CBS. Needless to say, the beer was good, and I rated it 5/5 on Untappd. Even if the beer hadn’t been good, I would have rated it 5/5… Simply because of how hard this beer is to get.

I am glad that I got the chance to try it, and while there are more kegs of it coming to the Valley, I would rather let those that haven’t had it have the chance to try it, like my buddy Gabe Hattaway. If you haven’t heard of this beer, and see this beer… Order it. You won’t be sorry. The beer was thick, “chewy,” sweet and delicious. I didn’t want it to end. When they tried to take my glass, I made sure to lick literally every sip from the glass. It’s that good!

Don’t believe me? The beer has a BA SCORE of 100 and THE BROS also gave it 100. For an American Double / Imperial Stout from a brewing company in Michigan, they sure did hit a home run with this one. Plus, I love the label… Ugh. Great. Now I want more!!! Cheers to whatever you’re drinking tonight.

2 Responses to “White Whale: Founders CBS Imperial Stout”

  • I can certainly testify as to how difficult CBS and, to a certain extent, KBS can be to find. Here in Indy my beer geek friends and I have a regular spots around town. One of them, HopCat, has Michigan roots and pulled in both CBS and KBS for a tapping. HopCat really promoted the event declaring it was the first tapping of these two beers in the state of Indiana. I met a friend of mine and hour early before the tapping and we looked forward with much anticipation to sampling these whales. Despite being regulars and being known by management and bartenders, we were not able to get a seat anywhere near the bar. So we put our orders in 20 minutes early. Then with much fanfare they kicked off the event tapping the CBS. It was gone in 7 minutes. And hour later KBS was tapped and lasted 15 minutes. Never got a whiff of either. Needless to say it was pretty disappointing.

    • That stinks. So, to this day, have you tried either? I will rank their stouts in this order… CBS, Breakfast Stout, Imperial Stout and KBS. KBS is my least favorite, and while most like it… I find it to be just okay. Man, I wish you lived in AZ. Cheers!

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