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The Beer Circle » Blend, Cellar, Founders Brewing Co., Imperial Stout » Cellar: Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)

Cellar: Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)

Founders Brewing Company is a popular brewery on this blog (earlier this week Greg delved into Curmudgeon’s Better Half). Tonight I’m taking a look at the two most recent releases of their famed KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout), a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. Please note that this is NOT simply Founders Breakfast Stout aged in bourbon barrels, it is actually a completely different base beer–the same used to create CBS. KBS is aged in a blend of numerous bourbon barrels and as an added bonus you can buy the barrels for homebrewing or decorative purposes for $55 each at the brewery.

Founders KBS 2011 and 2012
Surprisingly the 2011 has a better head. Both come out of their respective bottles deep black with a nice brown head. 2012 has a thin head, but 2011 has a finger or two. The retention on both is pretty average, but the 2011 seems to lace better.
Both vintages have a big chocolate character that provides the base for the rest of the beer. Not surprisingly, 2012 has a much more robust coffee aroma, but it is not lost on the 2011. I'm getting some roasted malts on the 2011, whereas all of the roast in the 2012 comes from coffee. The bourbon notes are pretty similar, and secondary to the aforementioned aromas. Neither are boozy, but the 2011 is a tad more thin than 2012.
The tastes really differ, which surprises me based on how similar the other characteristics are. I'll start with 2011, which obviously has mellowed out a little bit. Smooth, sweet chocolate blends with some light bourbon, vanilla, and slight hints of coffee at the very end. Some roasted malts trickle in as well. The taste is sweet and decadent, but without a ton of bourbon. I don't hate that it's not there, but I do wish it had more. The 2012 has some booze noted. The chocolate is not as pervasive as it is for the older vintage. There's a dry coffee aftertaste, but the coffee isn't huge. The bourbon and vanilla starts to be noted somewhere in the middle of the taste, and lasts through the finish. Again, I wish it had more bourbon in it, but the taste isn't unbalanced. The 2011 is better in my opinion. Glad I still have a few left to see what another year will do to it!
I think I like the mellowed 2011 better than the more in your face mouthfeel of the 2012. Both are thick and go down really smooth, but the booze has been curbed by the year in the cellar on the 2011 and I think it has improved the mouthfeel. Both are crazy drinkable for an 11% ABV beer, however.
This was a contentious category for KBS this year. I got most of my bottles for between $6 and $8, but know of stores that sold out at as much as $12 per bottle. I think that doubling the suggested retail price for rare beers is crap. To put it in perspective, that's a higher $/oz than the same store sold CBS for. I mean sure, they sold their stock, but ripping off customers? Not cool. With that said, I think it's worth anything less than $10 per bottle.
These are both phenomenal beers, but I liked the aged version better in almost every aspect. I do think the coffee was too understated in the 2012 batch, and that the bourbon should be more prominent in every batch of KBS, but overall it's a wonderfully thought out beer. I hope the increase in batch size next year doesn't hurt the quality because I hope to enjoy these for many years to come.

2011 (Left) and 2012 (Right)

Beer Stats
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
Serving: Bottle
Size: 12oz
ABV: 11.20%
BA Score: 100
RB Score: 100

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Written by Russ Beck

Russ can trace his beginnings in craft beer to sitting in Zeno’s Pub in State College drinking various craft beer options from across Pennsylvania. Since then, he has never faltered in finding new brews, whether they’re rare, delicious, or hopefully both. Russ will be writing on a large variety of subjects, including but not limited to: reviews, homebrewing, and how to take labels off of beer bottles. He’ll drink just about anything, but prefers a nice Stout, IPA, or Weizenbock. Find Russ Beck on Google Plus

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