Blind Tasting: Barrel Aged Coffee Stout

On the first days of April, beer nerds begin a hunt for “the best” barrel aged coffee stout, Founder’s KBS. Or at least that’s what most beer nerds say is “the best.” Others say KBS is good, but it’s all about Sunday Morning Stout, or Big Bad Baptist, or Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout, and the list of “the best” goes on and on.

Deciding that there had been enough talk about “the best” barrel aged coffee stout we put them all to a blind taste test. Here are our results!

Barrel Aged Coffee Stout Blind Tasting

Continue reading “Blind Tasting: Barrel Aged Coffee Stout”

Learning About Beer: Wet Hopped Beers

Sticking with the fall beer theme from the past two weeks I want to educate folks on wet hopped beers. Pumpkin beers dominate Fall with Oktoberfest beers coming in a distant second and wet hopped beers a bit of a rarity.

whole leaf wet hopped
Hops are the source of IBUs in beer

Continue reading “Learning About Beer: Wet Hopped Beers”

Beer Review: Founders CBS

If you haven’t heard of Founders CBS I don’t blame you. If you haven’t heard of Founders then I am very sorry for you. Founders is a fantastic brewery out of Grand Rapids, Michigan that makes a range of amazing beers. The story of CBS starts with their winter seasonal Breakfast Stout. Founders Breakfast Stout is released from October through February and should be found in most better beer stores in most of the eastern half of this country. It’s a delicious oatmeal stout with flavors of chocolate and coffee, if you haven’t had it go out and buy it now.

Every April Founders releases KBS (Kentucky Breakfast stout). It is only available in the best (best at selling Founders that is) beer stores and you will likely need to enter a raffle or know someone at the store to get it. To make KBS Founders takes the Breakfast Stout and [correction: KBS is not exactly the same recipe as Breakfast Stout, just very similar]  ages it in bourbon barrels for a full year. So you get all that awesome coffee, chocolate, and oatmeal action found in the Breakfast Stout plus the oak and vanilla attributes brought on by bourbon barrels.

Once, one single time, in 2011 Founders released CBS (Canadian Breakfast Stout). Instead of using standard 2nd use bourbon barrels (once for bourbon, once for beer) like they do with KBS they used 3rd use bourbon barrels that had been used to age bourbon, then used to age maple syrup, then used to age beer. Yep, bourbon maple syrup, I’d love to try that stuff. The maple syrup added more sweetness and complexity on top of an already complex and succulent beer. Here is Founders short blurb on this beer:

Canadian Breakfast Stout is an Imperial Stout brewed with a blend of coffees and imported chocolates, then aged in spent bourbon barrels that have most recently been aging pure Michigan maple syrup. The final product has had stellar reviews and is usually among the top 5 highest rated beers in the world on BeerAdvocate.

Founders CBS has become an unobtainable white whale for many craft beer aficionados out there. It’s so rare that in my 3 years of trading beer I have never once seen it offered for trade though many people are in search of it. I had honestly given up my hope of every having this beer until my annual trip to visit my family in Atlanta over Thanksgiving led us to The Brick Store Pub. The Brick Store Pub has an obscene cellar list that includes a bottle of CBS for $150 dollars! Though $100 of that goes to charity, so I rationalized this purchase because I always give around $100 to charity around the holidays but hadn’t yet this year. Thus that $100 took care of my yearly charity donation and I got CBS!! Enough of that, on to the beer!

Continue reading “Beer Review: Founders CBS”

Beer Review: Founders Double Trouble & Doom

I’m coupling these two reviews into one post because Doom is just Double Trouble… after spending 4 months in bourbon barrels. Double Trouble is Founders standard double IPA that is released in mass during May and June while Doom is only available now… if you can still find it. I was lucky enough to score a bottle before everywhere in town sold out thanks to the assistance of my sister-in-law. Sadly I don’t think you’ll be able to find anymore Doom around town but you can look this up again next year and find Double Trouble wherever better brews whenever the weather is cold.

Brewery: Founders
Beer: Double Trouble
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9.4%
IBU: 86
Calories: ~280

Absolutely beautiful rich golden color with a snow white head topping.

Pungent aromas packing citrus into every nose hair.

Woah, super bitter kick in the palate. After that initial wave of bitterness comes grapefruit hops and a slight malty body that doesn’t come close to balancing things out.

Medium body with loads of carbonation, a slight bit of alcohol, and a lingering slickness.

This definitely lives up to the name Double Trouble and the style double IPA. With all the IPAs, and various sub-categories of IPA, out there this doesn’t come close to being one of my favorites. But it is an enjoyable brew, just not one I’d be in any kind of rush to have again. If you go crazy for citrus hop bitterness then you’ll go crazy for this. Love the label on this brew but it kinda blows that there’s no back story to it on the bottle. It just has the name, style, IBU, and ABV, oh and of course the gov’t warning.

Brewery: Founders
Beer: Doom
Style: Barrel Aged Double IPA
ABV: 10%
Calories: ~400

Comes out a slightly deeper golden hue then Double Trouble did with a LOT more of that same fizzy pure-white head.

Very slight bitter aroma mixes with bourbon, vanilla, caramel, and some citrus hops.

Surprisingly hoppy taste, I expected the citrus and bitterness to be much more subdued after 4 months in a barrel. All that mixes delicately with sweet caramel and vanilla backed by a solid amount of bourbon. Resulting in a very balanced flavor.

Medium body and mild carbonation come together for a mediocre mouth feel experience.

I have a feeling that many people will find this to be a great beer I, however, do not. It’s a good beer, and an interesting beer, but we don’t need to bourbon barrel age EVERYTHING just as we don’t need to hop the crap out of everything. Also $15 for a 750 ml is $5 more then I’m really interesting in paying for something less then spectacular. Call me cheap if you want but the value is rarely there at that price. All that said I’d still encourage folks to try this once, just get a bottle to split with 2 or 3 friends next year or this year if you get lucky!

Edit: Turns out I misunderstood the rarity of Doom. As part of Founder’s Backstage Series we may never see this beer again. Sorry if I got people excited. I know O’Bryan’s in Loveland had some as of Saturday (4/27) and folks are trading them online, so if you’re really interested don’t give up hope!

Beer Review: Founders KBS + Cinci Availability

It’s that very short time of year again, KBS time. First off, the question that’s on everyone’s mind. Where can I get mine?

Regarding availability, short story is that it’s available in our area, but in a very limited supply. While Founders did up their production of KBS this year they also increased their distribution area, so we’re still about as hosed as we’ve always been. Long story is that I spent most of Monday and Tuesday calling all the places below. If you ever call anywhere for a rare beer ask for the “person who orders beer” before you do anything else, this’ll save much headache and confusion. Most of the places below only got 1 case, except for Jungle Jim’s Fairfield where I saw the 5 cases they received, so they may be your best bet. I strongly suggest you call ahead before driving anywhere just to make sure they still have some in stock, and when you get there don’t waste time looking on the shelf. Just ask someone who looks important.

Everywhere around town is now sold out.

Cincinnati:

  • Jungle Jim’s (Fairfield) – Had it as of Monday night, 1 bottle per person, $5.29 per bottle.
  • Jungle Jim’s (Eastgate) – Waiting a call back
  • O’Bryan’s Wine & Liquor (Loveland)- Has 1 case, minus my 4-pack ($20 I think); honorable mention here for being the only people willing to take my number and call me back when it comes in! Per Ed Paff Jr. they’re now sold out.
  • Cellar’s Pub (Lebanon)- Should hear Friday
  • Root Cellar (Kenwood) – Thursday
  • Whole Foods (Mason) – only got 1 case half of which was gone by noon today. Selling 2 bottles per person for $6 per bottle. Probably sold out by the time this post goes live. Again thanks go to Ed!
  • Whole Foods (Cinci) – Already sold out due to phone-in reservations, thanks Ed Paff Jr. for that info.
  • Dutch’s (Hyde Park) – Sometime this week, will likely be 1 bottle per person.
  • Lackman (downtown) – Will have it on draft sometime.

Kentucky:

  • Party Town – They have it now, 1 case, and are selling a bottle a person
  • Cork ‘N Bottle (Covington) – Sometime this week but no specific date yet
  • Cork ‘N Bottle (Buttermilk Pike) – Sometime this week but no specific date either
  • Party Source – Thursday afternoon

Dayton (the following is per the Premium rep + a few I called):

  • Belmont Party Supply – Coming in today, like their facebook page for info. Now on sale, 2 bottles per customer!
  • The Market – Maybe sometime Thursday
  • Dorothy Lane Market Springboro – Sold out already due to pre-orders
  • Dorothy Lane Market at Washington Square – Didn’t actually get any
  • Wine and Liquor Warehouse – Got 1 case and all gone
  • Miami Valley Wine and Spirits Tipp City – Have it now but only 1 case, 1 bottle per person $5.25.
  • South Park Tavern is having a vertical tapping of KBS 2012 & 2013. No specific date provided as of yet, they said to check the website and they’ll post it the day of… so much for planning head.
I’ll do my best to keep updating this list through out the week but ff you know of anywhere else around town getting any please share… after you get your own of course 😉

Now for the review portion of the post. This time last year I was digging hard into, what I now think of, as upper-mid level craft beers (more on that some other day). I had no idea what KBS was or that it even existed, by last summer I knew it’s “legendary” status and last fall I was able to score a taste at the Moerlein Lager House (my post on that). I only got a wee bit and had 3 other beers at the same time, so I didn’t really get the full experience. This year I’ve been on top of this since last Thursday. Checking with distributors and bugging the hell out of stores. Now the moment I’ve been waiting for, to dig into this beer and see if it’s all hype. Here is Founder’s blurb about it:

What we’ve got here is an imperial stout brewed with a massive amount of coffee and chocolates, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels for an entire year to make sure wonderful bourbon undertones come through in the finish. Makes your taste buds squeal with delight.

Brewery: Founders
Beer: KBS
Style: Stout – Bourbon Barrel Aged
ABV: 11.2%
IBUs: 70
Calories: ~336

Dark ink black color that does not let a single bit of light through it even with my phones flash held up against the other side of the glass! Easily an SRM of 40+ and certainly one of the darkest beers I’ve ever seen. It’s topped off by a thick skim of coffee colored head that slips away quickly.

Woof, yeah that smells every bit of 11% with a strong bourbon foreground. Lots of roasted coffee beans and dark chocolate aromas from the malt. A bit of syrupy and vanilla mixing in as well. No hops to speak of.

Taste is very present with roasted bitterness bring along a delicate combo of chocolate, coffee, bourbon, a touch of vanilla, and a hint of caramel. Not much lingering aftertaste just bitterness. Oh, and you can again pick up on that strength, it’s not as present here as it was in the nose though.

Heavy mouth feel with a smooth and creamy body. Does leave some weird slickness on the tongue and back of the throat though.

Improves steadily as it warms up. Everything slowly mellows out a bit and it becomes a smooth highly enjoyable experience. A lot more creamy chocolate flavor… oh and drunkenness.

This is by far my favorite bourbon stout I’ve had so far. So many of them just kick the shit out of your senses over whelming everything with too much bourbon (I’m looking at you Bourbon County Brand Stout). KBS pulls in a fair bit of bourbon but it’s not the most dominant aspect. Founders has done a good job of balancing the bourbon with all the other normal stout qualities that I enjoy.

Whole Foods Mason: Tuesday on Tap

I’ve been meaning to come to one of these for months but things keep coming up and it’s not all that close to me. But I finally prioritized it and I’m so glad I did.

First of the important stuff, the beer list:

Those prices are pint/32 oz growler/64 oz growler… yeah $12 for 64 oz of PsycHOPathy… so mad I didn’t bring my growler.

The way this works is that there are 6 tables each with 1 beer and 1 snack. The tables are spread throughout the store, but I got here early so I snagged a seat at the bar for a pint before everything started. While the bar does count as 1 table you still have to get up and walk around so getting here early isn’t a huge advantages. The tables are setup 1 – 6, light – dark, Hors d’oeuvre – desert. I’m not sure, and didn’t ask, if they were consciously pairing beer & food, but for the most part it seemed like they did.

You start at register 7, its $6 for a mug and the tasting but if you bring your mug back you save a dollar. At each table they hole punch your list of beers and give you an appetizer. Pretty simple setup that keeps things easy and awesome.

The first station was Bell’s Oberon and vegetable medley, both were delicious however I have problems with drinking a summer ale while it is snowing.

Station 2 is Left Hand JuJu brewed with ginger and paired with cajun catfish. That catfish was quite spicy and paired a little weird with the ginger.

Station 3 is MadTree PsycHOPathy paired with quinoa and farro topped with haloumi cheese. I love quinoa and have now discovered that farro is another awesome grain. This whole thing went great with the hoppy/bitter IPA.

Station 4 matched Kona Koko Brown Ale to a pepperoni pizza. They went well together but not outstanding.

Table 5 was a winter fruit cracker topped with brie cheese and spicy plum chutney paired to Ballast Point’s Dorado Double IPA. The Dorado packs a vicious kick of alcohol and bitter hops. It washes off the strong flavors of the cracker. I didn’t dig the snack but loved the beer.

Station 6 brought out Founders Imperial Stout and matzo crunch, which is a matzo cracker dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with walnuts. This pairs amazingly and the Founders imperial stout is just plain awesome! The interplay with the chocolate and the Imperial Stout was absolutely amazing.

Overall this was a fantastic experience that was well worth my $6. However the beer list and apps changes each week. They post the beer list on their Facebook page before hand, seems to be around noon on Tuesdays, so I’d suggest to check and make sure they have beers you like or are interested in first, hopefully they’ll start posting what the snacks will be as well. The store also has a decent bottle selection that includes a variety of single bottles.

Seriously I strongly recommend checking out one of these events and will definitely be back myself. This store is also hosting it’s own Whole Foods Craft Beer Festival on May 18th, so we have that to look forward to as well!

Josh’s Favorite Beers of 2012

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been going through my Untappd profile, rounding up my most memorable beer than I was lucky enough to try in 2012. I ended up with a total of fifteen beers, consisting of a top ten and five honorable mentions which were just short of the cut. It’s not quite the end of 2012 yet, so I suppose it’s possible that late additions bump some of these out, but it’s a risk I’m going to make.

My takeaways?

  1. I definitely like barrel-aged beers.
  2. Cincinnati-area beers performed well, taking 4 of the 15 spots.
  3. This list was really, really hard to cull down. There is so much great beer out there and I’ve been able to try so much of it. I love the choice that better beer drinkers have now.

Now, for the list. There are more details for each beer in the captions of the slideshow below, but this here’s the summary. By the way, the top ten are in no particular order.

Top Ten

  • Rivertown Lambic (2010)
  • Founders Looking Glass
  • Sierra Nevada barrel-aged draft only beers
  • Quaff Bros. Joseph
  • The Bruery Black Tuesday (2009, 2011) & Chocolate Rain
  • Goose Island Juliet
  • Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Plead the Fifth (2011, 2012)
  • Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (2012)
  • Westvleteren XII
  • Listermann Cincinnatus

Honorable Mentions

  • Rivertown Sour Cherry Porter
  • Stone Enjoy By 11.09.12
  • Quaff Bros Sour Grapes
  • New Belgium La Folie
  • Founders Better Half

The format is a little awkward below with the captions, so if you’d like a better view of them, you can do so here.

[gigya type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” src=”https://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf” width=”400″ height=”267″ flashvars=”host=picasaweb.google.com&captions=1&noautoplay=1&hl=en_US&feat=flashalbum&RGB=0x000000&feed=https%3A%2F%2Fpicasaweb.google.com%2Fdata%2Ffeed%2Fapi%2Fuser%2F112623189967225981728%2Falbumid%2F5823309371816619489%3Falt%3Drss%26kind%3Dphoto%26authkey%3DGv1sRgCNfGiv2QkseZ2QE%26hl%3Den_US” pluginspage=”http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer”]