Beer Review 0203: Founders KBS [Kentucky Breakfast Stout] (Birthday Beer Week 3 of 7)

If there were ever a beer that had me counting down the days until I could try it, this one is it. Founders KBS, which stands for Kentucky Breakfast Stout (Founders cannot print ‘Kentucky’ on the label since the beer is brewed in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and not the bluegrass state) is a big-time Imperial Stout brewed with premium coffee and chocolates, then cave-aged for an entire year in oak bourbon barrels.

Released every March 15, the Ides of March, this beer is extremely limited and is hard to find. My local bottle shop got in one case (24 twelve-ounce bottles) and the limit per customer was ONE BOTTLE. So I picked up my bottle this past March, and I have been storing it in my basement ever since. And I have declared today, August 14, the day of my thirtieth birthday, the day to crack the cap.

Last year, I rated Founders Breakfast Stout a perfect 100 points. However, it should be noted that while the regular Breakfast Stout and KBS share some flavor similarities and are both Imperial Stouts, they are two completely different beers, brewed separately.

If, by chance, you’ve never heard of this beer — Kentucky Breakfast Stout is a world renowned Imperial Stout. Most reviews peg this as a perfect beer, and as of this writing, it is listed as the #10 beer in the world on Beer Advocate. KBS comes in at 11.2% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 70 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

Without further ado…

The pour on this heavy stout produced a very small, dark brown head, which was more like a fizzy cola cover than a proper beer froth. However, as I emptied the second half of the bottle into my glass, the head became stronger. Agitating the beer regenerated the head well, and the lacing was fair, leaving some thin tan sheets. As for the liquid itself, it was the blackest dark black you could imagine, pouring muddy thick and leaving you clueless in regards to particles or sediment. Remember, Founders never filters their beer, so this one is probably chock full of bits. Perfect score? Check.

On the nose, there’s a heavy bourbon note that stands out up front, but without any alcohol. The scent is smooth and a big blast of vanilla and chocolate lend sweetness. There’s also a significant hit of fresh roasted black coffee, and a woodsy oak. The aromas here are simple, but they are so pungent and great that it’s insane. I could sniff KBS all day, everyday. It really reminded me of a stiff Brazilian dessert coffee, without the whipped cream. Perfect marks here, too.

As if that weren’t enough…we must taste KBS. And the taste is AMAZING — big bourbon up front, coffee, and chocolate. Deep, rich notes of each, blasting your palate like the most perfect rock band. This beer, despite the 11.2% ABV, is not boozy in any way whatsoever except for maybe a tinge of hotness in the nose right after the swallow. Vanilla adds to the sweet pot, giving way for a bittersweet finish that does an Imperial Stout reversal — usually, I find these finishes start bitter and end sweet, but this one puts out layer upon layer of deep dark chocolate and brisk coffee before giving way to a bit of a pine hop note. The fading flavor is a bitter coffee, and this thing just glides from the tip of the tongue to the back of the throat as the finish completes.

The texture was thick and creamy, slightly foamy, while carbonation was soft… perfect beer? Oh, yes.

If you’re reading this website, I’m fairly sure you’ve heard of Kentucky Breakfast Stout. Folks, believe the hype: Founders have a definite hit here. I often talk about how a great beer will leave me thinking about it days later, wishing I had another sip, and this is one that I will be thinking about months from now. The flavors themselves aren’t complex, but the quality and the amount of palatable tastes are just mind-blowing.

This was one of the best beers I’ve had in my lifetime, without question. And I’m glad I saved it for my thirtieth birthday.

Here’s to thirty more! Go find yourself a KBS and have a great time.

Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout), 100 points. Price: $5.99 for one twelve ounce bottle.


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