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Founders KBS

Rating: 4.65

Lucky number thirteen here, this one will be the 13th Founders beer that I’ll have reviewed on here and follows on from the bottle of their Backwoods Bastard that I enjoyed not that long ago. Like that offering, this one is an extremely limited edition beer from the brewery, of which one batch is released in April each year and usually sells out within the month. Described by the brewery as “a bit of backwoods pleasure without the banjo”, the beer is an 11.2% offering that is brewed with hints of coffee and vanilla before being aged in oak bourbon barrels for a year in the caves below Grand Rapids, Michigan. Previously known as Kentucky Breakfast Stout, the beer now just goes by the acronym KBS and is a different beer from barrel-aged versions of their Breakfast Stout which was the original recipe for this beer when it initially launched using Jack Daniels barrels before being tweaked some.
Founders KBS

Coming in at 70 IBU’s, the beer is universally considered to be a classic and is currently listed as the 10th and 11th best imperial stout on the BeerAdvocate and RateBeer websites respectively, making it the first imperial stout that I will have tried to be rated higher than Bourbon County Brand Stout. I actually picked this bottle up at the end of May after a limited number made it to the UK and it’s one that I’ve been holding on to until the holiday season with it being the beer I’m most looking forward to trying alongside the bottle of AleSmith’s Speedway Stout that I still have to try. KBS is also currently listed as the 14th and 16th best beer overall on the BeerAdvocate and RateBeer websites meaning that Westvleteren 12 is the only beer that I’ll have tried that ranks higher than this one on both sites; surely this has to be an amazing offering and I can’t wait to find out for myself now.

Appearance (4/5): Pitch black in colour with a one-centimetre tall, tan coloured head that’s made of fine bubbles but took quite an aggressive pour to form. It does what you’d expect from such a strong beer and disappears after about thirty to forty seconds, leaving a thin circle of bubbles around the edges of the glass and the odd trace in the centre.
Aroma (9/10): I gave this beer a little more time to settle than usual before jumping in, mainly to let the temperature fall a little and I’m glad that I did as it was a very strong offering that came through with a tonne of vanilla and plenty of oak sweetness. The alcohol on the nose didn’t seem quite as strong as I’d assumed it would be but there was definitely a nice warming touch to proceedings with a little grain too. The beer was naturally quite dark on the nose with  some ripe fruits coming through around the middle, most notably plum and raisins that were backed up by some coffee notes and a few burnt sugars. There was some bourbon notes and rich chocolate towards the end that helped add to the sweetness without overdoing things and I managed to detect some creamy notes right at the end as well.
Taste (10/10): Strong, rich chocolate flavours open the taste of this one up and are followed by some excellent vanilla flavours and a good amount of coffee. The beer is very dark with some ripe fruits coming through around the middle, the plum and raisin from the nose feature alongside some dates and figs. A few burnt sugars also carry on from the nose and there is plenty of roasted malts adding a subtle bitterness before some barely appears. There is a slight alcohol kick towards the end that is backed up by an oak sweetness and some butterscotch right at the death; an absolutely amazing tasting beer.
Palate (5/5): A rich and slightly creamy, full-bodied beer that was incredibly smooth and came through with soft carbonation levels. Naturally the beer was a strong one, it boasted a warming alcohol kick towards the end that felt quite boozy but remained easy enough to drink, relatively speaking anyway. There was a nice balance to the beer with the oak and various fruits adding a sweetness to proceedings that leveled out the roasted malts and dark flavours that kicked things off previously; excellent stuff really.

Overall (19/20): Another fantastic beer from Founders that was well worth the wait, I’m just glad that I was able to pick up two bottles at the time and still have another one to drink. The beer is full of flavour and comes through quite complex with a good combination of dark, ripe fruits and an oak sweetness on top of the excellent roasted flavours and dark malts. I enjoyed the warming alcohol touches that gave the beer a nice kick and despite the strength it still proved an easier than expected beer to drink with it going down quite easily; that being said, I definitely took my time and savoured this one. A beautiful beer and one of the best I think I’ve tried, I’m definitely looking forward to trying this one again now.

Brewed In: Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States of America
Brewery: Founders Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2005
Full Name: Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 11.2%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: The Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Price: £7.20

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