Welcome to Cosmo's Beer Blog!

We’re a small group of friends and family scattered across the country who’ve all developed a thirst for craft and import beer. We decided that a blog would be a great venue for us to share our hobby. Here we will review beer, compare notes and challenge each other with "Beer Missions".

So welcome to our little world of discovering great tasting beer!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Canadian Craze

Beer geeks around the world have long pursued Founders' Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS). Described by Founders as an "Ale brewed with Chocolate and Coffee aged in Maple Syrup - Bourbon Barrels" it is easy to understand its appeal. Of course many brews fall short of the delicious descriptions conjured up by marketing professionals but CBS has consistently received excellent reviews on websites like Beeradvocate and Ratebeer. Over the years CBS has become legendary. Part of this fame is also based on Founders reputation as masters of bourbon barrel aging. When Founders commits to aging ale in bourbon barrels, they rarely miss the mark.

Until recently, CBS was only available on tap and it's legend grew as the chosen few beer reviewers lauded it's amazing taste and aroma. Earlier this year Founders started bottling in large format 750ml bottles. Their first release was Blushing Monk and immediately people started speculating that CBS could be, or should be, next. Founders played their cards close to the chest as anticipation grew but in late August Founders announced that the next large format release would indeed be Canadian Breakfast Stout. The web was abuzz with anticipation and excitement and our little tasting group was no different.

On one of my many trips to the local bottle shoppe, I discussed the impending release of CBS with my friend and purveyor of great beer, Dave (or as he is called on Beeradvocate: backfat). "I'm not even going to bother trying to get it locally", Dave said. "It's going to be a bloodbath." I chuckled. Laura and I thought about driving up to the release party but ultimately decided to skip it. I figured it would be difficult to get, but I had always been able to track down any brew that I really wanted and figured this would be no different.

As the date for distribution grew closer, I began calling my various sources for rare beer. I could tell early on that store employees were being harassed by frenzied beer fans, concerned that they might not get a bottle of CBS. Was Dave right? Maybe I should have made the trip to Grand Rapids to secure my bottles... still, I wasn't too worried. I put my name on three bottle lists and stayed in contact with eight different stores. At the first store I was number 14 on a list, at the second I was number 5, and at my regular spot I was number 8. The only problem was that no one knew how many bottles they would receive. More time passed and rumors of extremely limited bottle counts began to surface. Now I began to lament my decision to not attend the release party in Grand Rapids. With no going back, I tried to call stores often enough to keep abreast of what was happening without becoming a nuisance. The problem was that with so many callers, beer stores were growing weary of any mention of CBS.

Finally distribution week came and the incredible stories began. People waiting outside stores who refused to make lists, some even sleeping in their cars. People hearing they would get bottles, only to find their store received none. Stores not selling a single bottle to the public but rather letting employees purchase their entire allotment. As I touched base with stores that did not make lists, I received the same news: either their bottle allotment was so small that they were already gone or they received no bottles at all. I still had hope as my name was in good position on a few lists. I spoke with the first store and found out that I was number 14 on a list for 12 bottles. I called the second store and found that I was number 5 on a list for no bottles. Uh oh. I called my last hope and found that I was number 8 on a list for 12 bottles! Okay, this would work out just fine... or maybe not. The shop kept taking names and as their list grew well beyond their allotment they decided that the only fair thing to do was to have a lottery. The list grew to around 40 names and the bottle count dwindled to 4 as their employees reserved bottles for themselves. At this point I was hopeful but not especially optimistic. I spoke with one of the employees who stated, "we're going to do the drawing at 5 this afternoon. Everyone just wants to get this whole Canadian Breakfast Stout thing behind us". I empathized with him for a minute before hanging up.

After work I decided to run over to the store and see how the drawing went. A group of people that included Dave and the store owner were quietly chatting as I entered. I smiled, congratulated them for being almost done with all the craziness, and asked how the drawing went. Dave pulled out a bottle of CBS and said, "isn't that a beautiful thing?" He held it forward and handed it me. As I looked over the label he said, "we just did the drawing and you won. That's your bottle." I paused for a moment wondering if he was kidding, but quickly concluded that Dave wouldn't be that cruel. I was a little stunned and a lot excited to realize that I would finally get to try this storied ale.

As Dave walked back to check some stock I said, "Man, you called it on the CBS release! How did you know that it would be so crazy?"

"Well, I figured this: bottle one of the most sought-after stouts in the world that tastes so good that you'd stab your best friend in the face just for a sip; it has to be crazy." I think I'll listen next time.

So last Friday night on the eve of the Three Floyds 15th Anniversary, I decided to open my bottle of CBS. It seemed appropriate as the group assembled included most of us who write here.

So next up... my review of CBS.

Eis Igian,


  1. Nice writeup, Randall. So glad you were able to get a bottle. Thanks much for sharing!

  2. Thanks Mike! I was glad to get to share it with you :)