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

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Learning About Beer Allocations (AKA 5 Steps to Buying Zombie Dust)

When I talked to bottle shop and bar owners about my series on the 3 tier system one of their concerns and challenges was dealing with beer allocations. Each store generally only gets so much of each beer. Craft breweries are just too popular and too small to fulfill every demand for their beer in every store in every state. So read on to learn more about beer allocations and, most importantly, for the master magician (that’s me) to reveal his secrets on getting those rarer beers!

Zombie Dust, KBS, Beer Allocations
Safety First!

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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!

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Beer Review: Epic’s Big Bad Baptist

Back in the heady days (of 2 weeks ago) when folks (or just me) were hounding around town trying to track down every last bottle of Founder’s KBS (my review) Josh told me to look for Epic’s Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout. This is a bourbon  or whiskey, barrel aged beer just like KBS and from what I’ve been told it has a very similar profile. Luckily though, unlike KBS, it’s much more available much more often. I scored this bottle at Arrow Wine & Liquor up in Centerville and they had 2 more bottles left. Each batch of the Big Bad Baptist is slightly different than the others and this one, batch #10, has the following:

Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout #10

Brewed on August 24, 2012. Packaged November 15, 2012.
This release was aged in both whiskey and bourbon barrels, primarily first-use whiskey casks, and second-use bourbon casks.  Additional dark chocolate and fruit flavors mingle with the whiskey and bourbon notes.

The Grains/Malts
Muntons Maris Otter Malt, Briess 2-Row Brewer Malt, Crystal Muntons, Weyermann Light Munich Malt T1, 2-Row chocolate malt, 2-row black malt, roasted barley
Ibis Coffee (Gayo Mountain Sumatra Dark) and Cocoa Nibs.

The Hops
Nugget, Chinook, Cascade

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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.

Beer Review: Founders Tap Takeover

The following are my thoughts from the Founders “tap takeover” at the Moerlein Lager house. I say “tap takeover” since only the All Day & Red’s Rye were on tap, everything else was poured out of bottles. Also these aren’t as in depth as my usual reviews due to the nature of the sampling process and the possible alterations the Moerlein pretzels could have on my palate (by the way, if you haven’t had the pretzels at the lager house you must! They are fantastical).

Lastly before we get to the reviews, if you missed out on the lager house action last night don’t fret. Next Thursday at the Burgers and beer event at the Party Source they’ll have KBS on draft + growler fills. If you’re reading this it’s safe to say you like good beer and so I must enthusiastically tell you to get to the Party Source and try the KBS, I may be there just trying to get a growler fill of it.

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