Breakfast Stout glass
Founders Brewing Co. co-founder Dave Engbers was working behind the bar at the brewery’s taproom when the idea for Founders Breakfast Stout hit him.

In the next issue of All About Beer Magazine, I take a look at the art of brewing with coffee and beer. As KBS Week kicks off today, we wanted to share an excerpt from our cover story on the origins of Founders Breakfast Stout.

One of the more popular beers on the market is the Breakfast Stout from Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids, MI (along with its boozy brother, the bourbon-barrel aged Kentucky Breakfast Stout, known as KBS). The beer, whose bottle has a label with a round-cheeked kid eagerly lapping up a bowl of cereal, is a creamy, luscious stout brewed with coffee and chocolate.  It is also a “complete pain in the ass to make,” says co-founder and Vice President of Brand Dave Engbers.

Dave Engbers headshot
Dave Engbers

“It smells great in the brewery, but between the coffee-handling equipment and chocolate equipment, it adds multiple steps to the process,” he says. “It’s a matter of keeping morale up while brewing, keeping the brewers happy, because it’s not the easiest day in the brewhouse.”

The idea for Breakfast Stout (a seasonal available from September to December each year) came to Engbers in a roundabout way. More than a decade ago he was working behind the bar at the brewery’s taproom when a regular customer came in with some chocolate-covered espresso beans. Engbers was offered one, happily accepted, chewed it down and then took a sip from his glass of Founders’ porter to wash it down.

“It was just one of those sips where I knew it was special,” Engbers said in a telephone interview . He conducted a quick focus group with those assembled at the bar, giving them a bean and a sip, and soon had his brewer on the line hatching plans for a coffee chocolate porter, a recipe that would later become the stout. After years of dialing in the recipe, Engbers says, the brewery is now pleased with the resulting product.

“It’s still beer; it just has this wonderful flavor components,” he says.

Look for the complete story on coffee beers in the May issue of All About Beer Magazine on newsstands April 1 or subscribe now.