Friday, November 12, 2010
A friend recently turned me onto Founders Breakfast Stout, a wonderful dark ale full of roasted coffee and chocolate, malt and a slight bitter finish. Awesome! This beer comes from Founders Brewery out of Grand Rapids MI and I have to say, they are doing most things right. Last night I attended a beer and food pairing at a local restaurant and they featured Founders selections with a 5 course meal. It was superbly done. On arrival, they gave each of us a Dry Hopped Pale Ale to start with that had a grapefruit and moderate hop profile. For dinner, the first course was a seafood salad with mint blood orange vinaigrette paired with a Harvest Ale which I found to be similar to the Pale Ale but more assertive; lots of grapefruit on entry and more hop. Next up a Tomato and smoke Gouda soup with Berkshire Ham and Wisconsin Gruyere on a toasted marble rye and this was paired with Red Rye P.A. Now, I'll tell you that my beer preference tends to run toward Belgian style dark ales, low in hop and carbonation so this Rye P.A. was on the opposite end of the beer spectrum for me. The color was a noticeable red/amber hue and the flavor surprised me. While it was a hoppy beer, it was well balanced with a fruity quality that I actually enjoyed. I'm not sure I would sit and drink the Rye P.A. on a regular basis but paired with the soup and sandwich, it was quite nice. Third course consisted of a tenderized pork tenderloin (Pork Involtino) stuffed with cheese and spinach with oven baked sweet potato fries. This was paired with two selections; Dirty Bastard and Backwoods Bastard. The Dirty Bastard is a Scottish ale and reminded me of the Breakfast Stout but less coffee and less chocolate. It was very good……but when I tried the Backwoods Bastard, I quickly forgot about ole' Dirty Bastard. The Backwoods is Dirty aged in used Heaven Hill bourbon barrels that are stored underground in a defunct Gypsum mine for approximately 7 months. This one blew me away. The nose was reminiscent of an Almond Joy candy bar; caramel, coconut and mocha with a malty mouthfeel and a slight bitter finish. Superb all the way and needless to say, my glass was empty pretty quick. The fourth course was a Curmudgeon Beef Bourguignon with an Asiago Palenta paired with Old Curmudgeon. This beer is brewed with Molasses and barrel aged. It was good but at this point, I was starting to feel the effects of 6 beers and we still had two to go. Last up, dessert which was a warm chocolate bread pudding with mocha sauce paired with the Breakfast Stout. I won't put into words how to describe this beer, I'll let Founders do it for me "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." 'Nuf said. As a parting "gift", they gave us some Cerise which is a tart cherry ale. I could have done without this one and left it behind, quite satisfied with the previous selections. If you're not familiar with Founders, get familiar. They're making some very creative and delicious brews that fully satisfy the most astute palate.