Beer of the Moment: Founders KBSMarch 30, 2017
Around fifteen years ago, Founders Brewing Co. co-founder Mike Stevens called the Jack Daniel’s distillery in search of used barrels in which to age a stout. Though they thought the request strange, the distillery allowed Stevens to pick up the used barrels. Kentucky Breakfast Stout wasn’t quite born that day—Founders had to build a bigger version of its Breakfast Stout to stand up to the barrel treatment—but the brewery was on its way to creating one of its most acclaimed beers.
Today the brewery calls more distilleries than ever in search of barrels, which are used not just for KBS but also for the brewery’s Barrel-Aged Series. In a decade and a half, KBS has grown from an experimental beer to one that now accounts for around 5,000 barrels of its production, all aged 85 feet below Grand Rapids in former gypsum mines. It’s brewed with coffee and chocolate before aging in those barrels for about a year prior to blending.
Obvious though they are, the three main flavors of coffee, chocolate and bourbon come through as advertised. In fact, they are so assertive that it can be tough to pull more nuanced flavors out of KBS. That’s by no means a bad thing, if you enjoy those flavors. The beer presents the bourbon itself more than the wood in which it was aged, so the oak-derived flavors of vanilla, coconut and cinnamon are more difficult to discern here. It makes no attempts to hide the fact that it is an 11.8% stout, with a viscous and velvety mouthfeel and warming finish. As the beer reaches room temperature, more subtle notes do emerge in the form of vanilla bean, toasted bread, dark fruit and a faint trail of smoke. The beer’s boozy finish actually helps cut through some of its richness.
While brewers across the country continue the trend of creating variant after variant of their stouts, Founders has opted not to mess with a good thing. Though the brewery has increased production of the beer, KBS hasn’t changed much—but there is one new wrinkle this year. In addition to the four-packs, KBS is now available in 750-mL bottles. Look for these bottles and kegs to hit the brewery’s distribution footprint starting April 1.
About Beer of the Moment:
All About Beer Magazine’s Beer of the Moment series aims to find that compass heading in the endless sea of new beers. Whether classic or the current cutting edge, these are fresh releases that inspire, that challenge, that stand for something. They’re why we’re All About Beer.
Think you’ve got something good that might fit the bill for Beer of the Moment? Get in touch via @allaboutbeer on Twitter or Instagram, or email us at [email protected]Daniel Hartis is the editor of All About Beer Magazine.