This is No Corporate Beer, Decibel’s semi-new beer-spotting, consumer guide where we drink a beer and a then review it. Extreme music legend/Trappist bassist/vocalist Chris Dodge takes it from here.
Kentucky Breakfast Stout (2018)
Brewery: Founders Brewing Company (Grand Rapids, MI)
Style: Imperial Stout
12.3% ABV / 70 IBU
Flavored beer. That phrase never sits well with me. The implication is something was added which wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place. If a brewer can entice complex, unique flavors from the malt, hops, and yeast, I consider that nothing short of an art form. If they brew, and then decide to dump in a bucket of fruit juice at the end, there’s something about that I consider cheating. Prime offenders would be Ballast Point. At first, they were impressive, releasing their oddly quaffable Grapefruit Sculpin, and the slow burning, enigmatic Habanero Sculpin, a copacetic pairing of seeming polar opposites. But creativity gave way to abominations that should never have been birthed, like half-human mutants from the Island of Dr. Moreau. Their entire line of brews received unnecessary skin grafts. The Watermelon Dorado IPA tasted nothing like a beer, and everything like a Jolly Rancher hard candy. I’ll bet it’s awesome if you’re a four-year-old. For my tastes, anything touted as “flavored” triggers PTSD.
Barrel aging still falls in the legit brewing category (i.e. not cheating). This ancient technique, applied to myriad spirits for centuries, pairs with heavier brews astonishingly well. Like most beer geeks, I gravitate towards dense, thick-as-molasses, barrel aged stouts. As such, picking up this year’s release of the Founders Brewing KBS was high on my to-do list.
Kentucky Breakfast Stout is the barrel aged, super charged version of Founders’ standard Breakfast Stout. The best part of KBS vs. the ever-increasing throngs of intentionally rare, nerd-bait beers is it’s relatively easy to find, albeit for a short window of time. I dropped $7 for a 12oz bottle, which is pricier than the average beer, but far from the most expensive on the market.
Admiring the label, reading the description for the treat awaiting me, you could audibly hear my double take when I stumbled across the dreaded phrase emblazoned on the front: “A Flavored Stout”. It’s like being the world’s biggest Discharge fan, then hearing “Grave New World”. Needle scratch. Gasps. Dramatic pause.
Was KBS brewed with those flavors, or were they added after the brewing process was completed? Coffee and chocolate flavors can be coaxed out of the proper malted barley. Or it can be dumped in with a jug. Dammit. Now I’m tortured by first world problems, not knowing the truth. Can I allow myself to enjoy it, knowing there’s a possibility some of these qualities may have been added after the fact? I mustered all my courage, shunned my preconceived notions and gave it a swig.
Tasty? Heck, yes. Smooth mouthfeel, sweet and chocolatey, a hint of coffee, not as dense or chewy as I was expecting. The tannic barrel elements are in there for sure, but not clobber-you-over-the-head boozy. Yum. I wouldn’t call this Breakfast so much as Dessert. I vote they change the name to KDS.
That hefty 12% kick goes a long way towards me not caring either way how they made this.
Yessiree… a looong way.
I only bought one? And I bought the smallest bottle available? What was I thinking?
Gone so quickly.
What else have I got?
Did I leave a Pomegranate Sculpin around here somewhere…