Redux Review 0009: Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) [Fresh Bottle]


Last August 14, for my 30th birthday, I sampled and reviewed Founders KBS. In 2012, KBS became available on March 15, the Ides of March — my bottle shop limited the release to one bottle per person. Yes, that’s ONE twelve ounce bottle per person.

This year, KBS came out a bit later than normal. Release date was April 1, and I’ve garnered more than one bottle this year. I’m super excited about that, because it means I can age some KBS now and see how it develops in the bottle. And, I can have a fresh bottle, which is the subject of this redux review.

First, let me make it clear that aging KBS goes against what Founders would like for you to do with the beer. They want you to enjoy it now; hell, they’ve already aged the beer for a year themselves. Founders maintains that they’ll age the brew for you, and you should enjoy it when you get it — that goes for all their beers.

On my first time having KBS, my bottle had about six months on it, so it wasn’t super fresh. Still, this is how I rated it:


Appearance: 15 of 15 points
Aroma: 15 of 15 points
Flavor and Palate: 35 of 35 points
Drinkability/Overall Experience: 35 of 35 points

Final Score: 100 points, or classic on my rating scale.

If you’re new to the game, Founders KBS is one of the most sought after beers in the United States. Perhaps THE most sought after brew. KBS stands for Kentucky Breakfast Stout, a nod to the bourbon barrels the beer is aged in. Legally, Founders cannot print Kentucky Breakfast Stout on the label, because the beer is not produced in Kentucky. Contrary to popular belief, KBS is not simply a barrel aged version of Breakfast Stout (my rating: 100 points) or Imperial Stout (my rating: 98 points); it is a different animal; it is brewed with premium coffee and chocolate, then aged in a cave in oak bourbon barrels for one year.

2013 KBS comes in as it always does, at 11.2% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 70 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). Bottling took place on March 1, leaving this one month to condition before being distributed. Put on your seatbelt, because its time to sample a fresh bottle of the ultimate Founders beer!


The pour delivered a small, diminishing dark tan head that is soapy and easily regenerates when swirled in the glass. The beer is pitch dark black like a stout should be; seriously, I held a flashlight to one side of the glass and no light came through. I have no idea about particles or sediment, as the drink is too dark to tell. The body seemed muddy as I poured; lacing was fair, leaving behind more than a few bits but nothing too overly impressive.

The nose is the perfect meld of all flavors discussed on the bottle — bourbon, but checked and not out of control, mixes with dark chocolate and coffee. This trio forms some caramel and vanilla notes, and there’s a subtle woodsy/oak/smokey aromatic in the background. As KBS warms, more of the coffee comes through, along with a slick edge of dark fruits. Heavenly. Extraordinary. Wow.


On the palate, this beer opens with competing flavors of vanilla and chocolate, light bourbon, and some toasted marshmallow. Does that sound good? Damn right. As it warmed, the front of the taste had some dark fruits. Middle of the mouth is a continuing deepening of the flavors; most notably, the dark chocolate comes out — then the finish, which brings more bourbon, heavy vanilla, and some bitterness in. The final refrain plays out long with some black, almost burnt coffee, a touch of the big 11.2% alcohol, and lots of sweet dark chocolate. KBS is full-bodied, and it has a thick, creamy mouthfeel, with soft carbonation.


KBS with six months age versus fresh? Well, I thought there was more of a hop presence on the finish, but there isn’t really much difference. And by “hop presence,” I mean the bitterness is a little more pronounced, not any hop flavors. There’s no hop flavor here at all. It’s all malt, bourbon, and the associated flavors that come with barrel aging.

Quite simply, this is everything you’ve heard about and then some. I was WOWED the first time, and I’m equally as stunned on second blush. I do recommend that you enjoy KBS a bit colder than you might normally sip on an Imperial Stout — that’s simply because this beer tells a grand story as it warms to room temperature. Sip slowly, friends.

In redux:

Appearance: 15 of 15 points
Aroma: 15 of 15 points
Flavor and Palate: 35 of 35 points
Drinkability/Overall Experience: 35 of 35 points

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



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2 responses to “Redux Review 0009: Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) [Fresh Bottle]”

  1. vancealm says :

    That sounds like one amazing beer, I will definitely be on the look out for this one. You do an awesome job making your reviews super detailed.

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