Sunday, December 9, 2012

Founder's Breakfast Stout Clone!

Cloning without stem cell research or mad scientists, that’s what FatCat has been up to.  Water, grain, hops, yeast, coffee, chocolate…Bwahahahah (evil mad scientist laugh with lightning and thunder in the background).  There are forums, magazine articles, and entire books dedicated to homebrewing clone recipes.  I have always wondered to myself why would you want to homebrew a clone?  You have the ultimate in creative control when homebrewing, so why would you attempt to make a beer that has already been made and is commercially available?  That has been my question for years.  The answer to my question is it is next to impossible to get some world famous beers without a high price point and/or the necessity to beg local stores to put you on “the list”.  I know what you’re thinking, “FatCat it took you 5 years of homebrewing to figure out the virtues of cloning?”.  Well, I’ve never claimed to be quick on the uptake. 

The Founder’s Breakfast Stout is not the first attempt at cloning.  The beer that initially inspired me to look into cloning commercial brews was New Glarus Spotted Cow cream ale.  I have family who occasionally travel to the Milwaukee area where the great Spotted Cow lives.  They bring me back a couple of sixers of this delicious brew which is quickly dispatched into my awaiting gullet.  After the Spotted Cow is consumed I have nothing but memories to comfort me on cold nights.  So it came to me one day in my mad scientist homebrew lair, why not try to clone it.  I found a forum on the internet with a 50+ page thread dedicated to homebrewers attempting to clone the infamous Spotted Cow with some self proclaimed accuracy.  We fired up the propane and came out with FatCat Polka Dotted Bovine.  Our mash efficiency was a little higher than expected making our clone higher in ABV.  When compared to my last aged Spotted Cow in the fridge our clone was quite a bit sweeter but was definitely along the same lines as the authentic version.  It was a crowd pleaser, especially for those who only drink light lagers or are otherwise not extensive craft beer drinkers.  We have had several requests to re-brew this clone, so if you need to homebrew something for a big get together this would be a great choice.  We have also brewed a Stone Arrogant Bastard clone which I don’t think was very close to the original but delicious nonetheless.  We are planning to attempt a clone of Great Divide Yeti by the close of the year.  Next year we are going legendary and attempting to clone Pliny the Elder and Kate the Great.  We will have no way to compare our clones to the originals but it’s the thought that counts.   

I got the crew together this week and we compared our Fat Kid’s Breakfast Stout to Founder’s Breakfast Stout.  Could our clone stand up to one of the most popular beers ever made?  For simplicity sake I will use FBS to stand for Founder’s Break Fast Stout and FKS for Fat Kid Breakfast Stout from here on out. 

The comparison:

I carbonated the FKS a little higher than I would have preferred but it didn’t really affect the taste or mouthfeel compared to FBS.  They were both similar in this aspect.

The FKS starts with delicate coffee aroma with some noticeable chocolate character in a supporting role.  The FBS had stronger coffee aromas which were more “brewed” than our clone.  The coffee aroma is more burnt so to speak and masks any chocolate aroma from what I could detect. 

FKS taste:
Coffee character immediately greets your palate.  Similar to the nose, the flavor is a delicate non-burnt/brewed character.  Big chocolate character comes in mid palate and has residual sweetness to round it out.  The finish is fairly sweet with smooth coffee-ness closing the show.

FBS taste:
You are immediately hit with coffee.  This coffee character is more of the “brewed” variety which is somewhat astringent or acrid.  Some good chocolate character comes in mid-palate with very little sweetness with it.  The finish has a muted grainy character followed by a long coffee dryness. 


The clone (FKS) has more residual sweetness available throughout the palate compared to the drier character of the original (FBS).  The sweetness helps round out the chocolate in the clone brew adding a bit of complexity in this respect.  The clone also had a more reserved coffee character which can be attributed to how we administered it in the brewing process.  The original recipe called for the first coffee addition to be added to the boil.  After researching our options we decided to cool our wort to 140 degrees before putting the coffee in to “brew”.  We were hoping to avoid the burnt/astringent coffee character which had been described when putting coffee in the boil.  This seems to be the difference between our coffee character, delicate, and that of the FBS, astringent/acrid (not that I claim to know how Founder’s actually makes there beer).  For the second addition of coffee we first cold brewed it in a large pitcher for about 24hrs and then added it to the fermenter. 

Overall, I would say this clone is very very close to the original.  Without drinking these two side by side I thought the clone was spot on.  I’ve had a FBS within the last week, so my taste memory was fairly up to date at the point I tried the FKS by itself.  When trying them side by side, the subtle differences became apparent.  We also broke out a year old FBS which had a more subtle coffee character compared to the fresh FBS.  The year old FBS’s coffee character was very similar to our clone.  I will call this clone a big success.  I think the recipe is about as close as you can get to the original without actually stealing it from Founder’s. 

Are you ready for the KBS version?  Go bourbon soaked oak chips, Go!

Here's the recipe if you care to experiment in your own mad scientist lair:

Fat Kid's Breakfast Stout

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