It's not often that one of the most sought-after beers in the eastern United States gets an official release in Bend, a place all about keeping it local with food and drink. Founders Brewing Company, however, is shattering that mold with its current release of CBS, which (until now) was the sort of rare bottle that beer nerds would chase delivery trucks around the Upper Midwest to score even a remote chance of purchasing.
What is CBS? It's a barrel-aged imperial stout and the latest entry in the Michigan-based brewery's Barrel-Aged Series rotation, which also includes the Doom imperial IPA and Frootwood cherry ale. It has its origins in Kentucky Breakfast Stout, another highly sought-after stout aged in bourbon barrels. Packed with coffee, chocolate, and elegant liquor notes, KBS has become a phenomenon in its hometown of Grand Rapids, which devotes an entire week to its formal release in March.
CBS, meanwhile, was created in 2011 when the brewery teamed up with fellow Grand Rapids outfit BLiS Gourmet, which specializes in syrups, sauces and other products aged in bourbon barrels. The core beer for KBS was matured in a few such barrels, originally used by BLiS for aging maple syrup, and the result—the KBS everyone knew and loved, with a sweet finish to top it all off—became an instant legend. Such was the birth of Canadian Breakfast Stout, now abbreviated to CBS since (technically speaking) no Canadian-made ingredients are used.
Both KBS and CBS have enjoyed top-20 spots in RateBeer's best-reviewed beer list since at least 2014, but for most of that time, the stouts were only available in Founders' core distribution radius—i.e., Michigan and points eastward. Things have rapidly changed for the brewery in the past year, however, as its recent expansion (bankrolled in part by Spanish beer giant Mahou-San Miguel, which holds a minority stake) allows fans to enjoy All Day IPA and regular old Breakfast Stout from sea to shining sea.
The 2017 release of CBS marks the first time the beer has been available in all 46 states Founders now distributes in (sorry, Colorado). 750-milliliter bottles are popping up in shops across Bend, usually on an "ask for availability" basis, at a price of $24.99 each. That's pretty hefty, but it provides an experience that can't be found anywhere else—a hefty stout, delicate liquor and dessert treat all in one.
Don't want to invest in so much at once? Never fear—The Brown Owl, which is turning into Central Oregon's unofficial home for Founders events, has a keg of CBS they plan to tap at 6 pm this Friday. It'll be offered alongside two other bourbon-infused monsters: Ten Fidy from Oskar Blues, and the B-Bomb imperial winter ale from Fremont Brewing. It's a night guaranteed to warm up even the coldest of beer-loving hearts.