For every person who grows into a full-on craft beer lover, there comes a moment when you cross that threshold from being casually into craft. For most people, that moment is the first time they “truck chase."
Truck chasing is when you try to get to your local bottle shop or craft-friendly retailer right after the delivery truck carrying a rare or fast-selling beer. Sometimes chasing starts with a hard to get IPA like Three Floyds’ Zombie Dust or Bell’s Hopslam. Sooner or later, it will probably be about chasing down elusive, released every one or two years, barrel aged stout.
For those of us in the Midwest, truck chasers mark their calendars for Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout, Bell’s Black Note, and of course today's beer, Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout).
KBS is the once a year, barrel aged version of Founders’ Breakfast Stout, which is a seasonal beer itself. It’s brewed with bitter and rich chocolate, along with a large amount of coffee, then aged for one year in barrels that were previously used to age bourbon. The beer has a rich history and has inspired many of the big stouts you drink today.
This year's version pours a medium thickness, accentuated by a decent amount of carbonation for a barrel aged stout. In the glass, it smells of that rich chocolate with a slight burn from the roughly 12% alcohol by volume. This year’s bottle doesn’t feature the actual alcohol content, most likely thanks to the repeal of Ohio’s arcane 12% ABV cap on beer sold in the state, which used to cause Founders to brew two different versions of the beer to meet the requirement for sale there.
This year’s version, though, is chocolate forward.”
The taste of KBS has varied from year to year. Sometimes the coffee or chocolate is the forward flavor, or, like the last two years, the booze is the most prominent feature. When booze is the forward flavor, it can be off-putting to many people.
This year’s version, though, is chocolate forward, with the coffee flavor coming in the middle to balance out the sweetness. The beer finishes with a light boozy touch and a nice nip of bourbon and oak that does a great job of showcasing the barrel character you look for in a BA stout. The warmer you allow the beer to get – and you should definitely sip is slowly so it can reach room temperature – the more the coffee and barrel come forward.
This year’s KBS release has provided a nice bounce-back for the flagging reputation of Founders signature beer. If your local shop still has some (be sure to ask if they’re keeping it behind the counter or in a back room), pick some up, even if you haven’t acquired a love of BA stouts quite yet.
If they don’t, mark your calendar and make sure you have a full tank of gas when the beginning of April rolls around next year. You may have some delivery drivers to follow.