Well here we are in the Ides of March, and that means one thing for beer geeks: The latest batch of the most sought after bourbon barrel aged beer in the world hit our shelves early this week. Most Binny’s received a few cases of KBS, and if you don’t make an effort to get this beer in the next few days, you will be out of luck.
I had a chance to drink a new bottle of KBS alongside a 2008 vintage bottle of Kentucky Breakfast Stout that I saved from last year. Founders recommends cellaring KBS for 2 years, but sorry Founders, I just couldn’t wait any longer than a year. In fact I think it’s pretty amazing I waited this long.
The first thing that I noticed was the brand new packaging and label for KBS. This was expected though because all of Founders packaging has undergone a change in the past year, and rumor has it that Founders had to change the name of Kentucky Breakfast Stout to KBS because it is not actually made in Kentucky. I also noticed that the year old bottle of Kentucky Breakfast Stout is 10% ABV and 25 IBU’s, while the new batch claims 11.2% ABV and 70 IBU’s. This would lead me to believe that this years batch is more intense than ever, and maybe a different beer all together.
I will start with the new vintage, 2009 KBS. The nose is filled with massive amounts ofcoffee, roasted malts, and bitter sweet chocolate. KBS is as full bodied as a beer can get. The beer itself tastes of coffee up front followed by some sweet chocolate, to go along with a smooth and creamy mouth feel. As soon as you are done swallowing, an alcohol burn will take over your entire mouth and throat, almost like biting into a chocolate filled with bourbon. I can even feel the burn travel down my chest and into my stomach. This beer is extremely bitter compared to the 2008 vintage, leaving a lingering bitterness on either side of my tongue and the back of my throat. This beer is seventh heaven in a bottle, and it is worth every penny of the 20 plus dollar price tag it carries along with it.
The 2008 bottle of Kentucky Breakfast Stout has a lighter head; it is a deep leathery brown color. The body is medium to full, overall a bit lighter than the newer vintage. The first thing you will notice is how supple the 2008 vintage is compared to 2009. Aging Kentucky Breakfast Stout seems to have mellowed it out, but it was lower in ABV to start with, so that has to be taken to account too. The nose is filled with chocolate and alcohol, with a slight hint of coffee. Tastes like vanilla, bourbon, hint of chocolate. The 2008 vintage has almost no bitterness. Alcohol burn and coffee are detectable on the taste, but not nearly as intense of the newer vintage. I love how the flavors of the aged bottle are blended together in perfect harmony, whereas the dominant flavor of the 2009 vintage is dominated by a coffee flavor with an alcohol burn to boot.
The 2009 vintage earns top honors for me. It is almost like Founders upped the ante on a beer that was already considered one of the best in the world. Although I enjoyed the mellowness of the bottle I aged, I took more pleasure in the newer and more extreme version of this beer. I would love to hear how people who have had this beer in the past think it compares to the new vintage.