Robb Report Vices

Heavy Hitters – Imperial Stouts

  • Shaun Tolson

For us to consider pouring a beer at breakfast, it takes either a hangover of epic proportions or a longing to relive the college days. The one exception is if the beer in question is a bottle of Breakfast Stout by the Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, Mich. “The impressive thing to me is just how much is going on with the beer,” Mesirow says of this oatmeal stout, which is brewed with chocolate and coffee. “It’s like a big cup of black coffee in the morning. There are a lot of roasted-coffee notes that come through the most, but the chocolate and the oatmeal are there, too, and that’s hard to do.”

If you prefer your imperial oatmeal stout served with a side of Kentucky’s finest spirit, you can’t go wrong with Firestone Walker’s Parabola, a Russian imperial stout that spends the final eight months of its production maturing in aged bourbon barrels sourced from the Heaven Hill distillery in Bardstown, Ky. “You can definitely smell the bourbon; it adds big vanilla and oaky notes to the beer,” says Mesirow. “The 2013 release was 13 percent ABV, but it doesn’t feel stronger than a Breakfast Stout [8.3 ABV]. It drinks just as smoothly and easily, which is impressive from a drinkability standpoint but dangerous from a practicality standpoint.”

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