Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) Beer Review – First Impressions of Kentucky Breakfast Stout 2016
I have made no bones about the use of beer mules to help me get my hands on beers across the country. My favorite is Loman, a sixty-something non-drinker that travels the country non-stop for his job. One thing I neglected to mention about Loman is where he hangs his hat; right outside of Grand Rapids, MI Aka Beer City USA Aka home of Founders Brewing Company. Did I also mention that Loman is amazing at forming relationships with people? Putting two and two together, it should come as no surprise that Loman has a hookup at Founders. Two and two did indeed equal four this week – a 4-pack of 2016 Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) about 2 weeks before those of us unfortunate enough NOT to live in Beer City USA can get them.
Thursday Loman swung by my office and dropped off one of the most coveted beers in the country. I know I will get a bit more from my local later in the month, but this early 4-pack was a welcomed surprise. I could not wait to try it but first I had to do my Thursday ritual of 2 hours of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu while my KBS cooled off to the perfect temperature in the back of my vehicle. I like a beer after hard training, and I usually opt for lighter fare instead of stouts most times but this was the first KBS of 2016 so I had no choice.
I poured my first 2016 KBS into a large tulip/snifter at around forty-five degrees Fahrenheit (when I am looking to drink at recommended temps for the style of beer I use an infrared temperature gun on the bottle – but I only do this for special occasions like the first KBS or the Westvleteren 12) which is in the range of the recommended temperature for stouts. It poured beautiful and dark with a nice tan head, just like it does every year. However that is where the similarities from the previous year’s KBS ended for me. This year’s version is dominated by a huge coffee note in the smell and the taste, with less bourbon and no alcohol burn at all. I have to say that I missed the bourbon smell and taste that I usually expect from a KBS. This beer tasted a lot like Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout or Weyerbacher Sunday Morning Stout with coffee just dominating the flavor and almost masking everything else.
It is widely known that Founders goes through great lengths to age this beer consistently (please see Detroit Free Press article Caves of beer: How brewers age Founders KBS) unlike Goose Island that lets Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS) age exposed to elements, changing the beer from year to year. The 2015 BCBS was one of the best ones I have had from them in the years I have been showing up on Black Friday to acquire my allotment but the 2016 KBS was my least favorite version of the KBS’s I have been drinking over the years.
Next to beer, my favorite liquid is absolutely coffee but I like it to be a little less prominent in my beer. The predominant coffee taste of this version of KBS makes me wonder what types of coffee they used for this version. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a great beer, but it tasted a lot like a regular Imperial Coffee Stout to me, not something aged in a bourbon barrel for one year inside a gypsum mine. This version was also missing the complexity that I am used to in KBS where the beer constantly changes flavors as you drink it.
I plan to age a couple which I assume will kill off the coffee a bit and I will still go to my local in a couple of weeks to get the rations with the rest of the people that are not lucky enough to live in Beer City USA or have a beer mule at their disposal.