Friday, August 16, 2013

Beer Re-Review: KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) (2011 vintage, 2 years old)

Reviewing the 2011 vintage of KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) (2011) from Founders Brewing Company out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This is one of Founders' most well-known beers and probably their most sought out special annual release that is bottled. I have not been a fan of the 2012 or 2013 vintages, so I thought I would dig into my cellar to revisit the last year I recall enjoying this brew. I originally reviewed this vintage of KBS back in January 2012.

Score: 96

March 2011 vintage bottle served in a Upland snifter and enjoyed on 07/07/13. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Pours a jet black color with minimal head. Poor lacing and retention. 3.75/5

Smell: Stale coffee, vanilla, oak, and lots of chocolate. A little "old stout" smell and cocoa too. Still smells nice, but not nearly as sublime as when it was fresh. 4.25/5

Taste: One of the reasons this beer is so great is that it used to be so balanced (the last couple of years have been overly acidic/bitter in my opinion). The bitter chocolate and coffee in this vintage counters the sweet barrel and sweet chocolate notes. This bottle has become drier and more bitter with age, but it is not acidic or acrid. Despite being one of the post-vanilla vintages and two years, I still detect ample vanilla notes from the bourbon without the oak or brown sugar -- a lovely quality I think is quite lacking in the recent two years. Dark chocolate is also present, and there is less coffee than nose. Has an "old roastiness" quality to the flavor that I love. The vanilla present is mostly upfront, with the drier/bitter favors prevalent on the finish. The complexity of this brew really shines as it flows from the front of the tongue to the back, and it opens up nicely as it warms. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, minimal carbonation. The mouthfeel has lost a little of the smoothness as it has dried out with age. The finish no longer leans sweet, and is arguably more balanced from the bitterness that has grown a bit in the flavor profile with age. I originally claimed it was a better beer than fresh Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout, but I think it's a slight notch below how the 2011 vintage is currently drinking. 4.75/5

Overall: As was the case with 2008 KBS, 2011 KBS is not quite the same beast that it was fresh (it was near perfect then), but I think that it is still drinking quite nicely with age and better than the fresher vintages. The nose took the biggest hit in quality, gaining a slight "old" (but not oxidized) taste, but taste is where it counts and KBS still delivers in that regard. The coffee has faded a little and the brew has dried out some, but that has lent it a slightly better balance. I was surprised by how much vanilla I detected in this bottle considering that it is a post-vanilla vintage. Give me properly cellared KBS over the newer releases any day; hopefully Founders gets KBS back on track in 2014.

Cost: $5 for a 12 oz bottle.

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