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Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,807 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 2,807
Hads: 10,816
Avg: 4.56
pDev: 17.54%
Wants: 4,282
Gots: 5,090 | FT: 416
Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  11.20% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-13-2004

This stout is brewed with a hint of coffee and vanilla then aged in oak bourbon barrels for over a year.

Note, this is NOT simply barrel-aged Breakfast Stout. It is an entirely different beer.

Now labeled as "KBS."
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 2,807 | Hads: 10,816
Photo of Donerik
3.43/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I liked this the least of the three breakfast stouts, I found the tastes mudded.

A - Black, brown head, low retention, as expected, beautiful

S - Smells good, coffee, bourbon, unmistakable aromas of both combine with roasted malt.

T - a bit of a let down here, the three tastes from the aroma just kind of mudd up, the coffee was a bit too overpowering and the bourbon flavor doesn't come all the way through, just as an alcohol.

M - didn't finish as well as the rest of the family, a bit more burning

D - 1 was my limit on this, I've had more than one of both of the others, I didn't enjoy this beer the same way as the others, it was in the finish.

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Photo of Sandbarunner
3.43/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

There is an awful lot hype behind this beer. This is great for Founders and stores.
I would like to start off by saying last years KBS was much better. There was a much brighter Bourbon nose last year. This year the bourbon notes are very light and the taste is not really there. The chocolate is good, but I would prefer a heavier Bourbon flavor.

That is my review from last year above...

Much weaker flavor this year that is so eclipsed by the hype that I am disappointed .

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Photo of crnipeter
3.45/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottling date reads 02/08/10. Pour into tulip gives birth to a tan head atop of opaque dark brown to black body. Aroma of chocolate, coffee, wood and...***booze***, lots of it, without any fruity esters to speak of. Flavor is rich dark chocolate, bourbon with pleasant alcohol warmth, coffee, bitterness that seems to be hop rather then roasted-malt derived. Roasty aftertaste. Medium bodied and smooth on the palate. The beer abounds in intensity, however, the rich dark chocolate and coffee qualities seem to be infusion rather than roasted grain/malt derived and this beer is just lacking the sublimity I'd expect from a top rated imperial stout.
A commoner, rather than imperial stout.

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Photo of Daniellobo
3.45/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Fair bourbon imperial stout with a charred coffee range.

Presentation: 12 oz brown capped bottle. Light cream and dark brown label, highlighting name of the brew with a small tongue-in-cheek paragraph about what it does not ail, alongside a presiding intro about its acclaimed status. Notes IBUs (70), and Alc. by Vol. (11.2%). Served into a snifter.

A - Black pour with brown edges, nice 1/3" bubbly brown head, poor retention and lacing with a fair surface memory ring.

S - Prominent coffee nose, burnt coffee that is, riding roasted malts with a mellowing whiff from a boozy bourbon touch on its back.

T- Charred coffee, malty notes with an acidic follow up that is finished with a nice bourbon pull. Uff, this reminds me of my problems with mainstream coffee in the States. Luckily the bourbon and boozy feel does some to rescue the brew from the coffee pits of their Breakfast Stout, although it is close. The acidic coffee note seems to be woven and not helped but enhanced by part of the hop bill. Faint vanilla-oaky notes riding the finishing coat of bourbon as they try to come to the rescue and add some make up to the pig that I have been kissing now for a while. As it warms up completely even a sweet sugary touch emerges. I wonder if some aging will help this a bit as hops subdue in a nice meld, and somehow coffee integrates with some benevolence.

M - Medium-full body with tingly carbonation held around a warm boozy finish with an overall creamy smoothness that unfortunately is hurt by the coffee profile. Otherwise its mouthfeel would be its most redeeming feature.

O - This is not bad but reminds me of "carajillos" i.e. mixing black coffee with whisky, cognac or a similar liquor, which is fine for those who like it that way. I typically enjoy the coffee on its own and the liquor sitting right next to it. Plenty of coffee and bourbon aged stouts offer a rich range, which feels like its own enticing brew and not a mix. For me this is not the case...

Notes: Unfortunately this is not for me. It is close to the shortcomings of their Breakfast Stout with an awful coffee offering, which kills the quality of the brew. I´m constantly surprised that this is so popular, but it could be a wrong turn in my palate... It´s like bad quality coffee trying to hide under an aggressive roast. I have chewed coffee grains on several occasions and one can notice the difference in quality, typically a bitter range is prominent but good ones have a nice range and a quality to them that low quality ones often translate as crash and astringent bitterness. This one feels like bad grains... And typically coffee stouts can get away with mediocre beans and average malt roasts if they do it well, let alone using quality stuff that really kicks them up a notch, but this? I really wonder what they are doing and if it is actually quality why it comes out in this manner. I know that very acidic coffees do not agree very well with me so that could be it.

Different brews but pricing, hype and quality considered I´d take Goose Island Bourbon Stout ahead of this any day, or even some underrated brews like say Schlafly Reserve Bourbon Imperial Stout... Sorry KBS, it's me not you.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
3.46/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: motor oil black. opaque. a hint of tan head head that barely lasts. looks nice and heavy

Smell: smells more like a plan imperial stout. roasted malts, some bitterness. some times the bourbon comes through

Taste: strong coffee taste. a bit too strong for me. some smaller hints of roasted malts. bourbon comes through occasionally. more so when it warms. but overall the taste it too much coffee not enough bourbon for me

Mouthfeel: thick and heavy. the bitterness in pretty good.

Overall: This beer just isn't my style of bourbon imperial stout. too much coffee not enough bourbon. the bitter level is pretty good, but i'd like to feel more kick. i'd take black note any day over this.

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Photo of alexipa
3.47/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 Bottle.

A: Black, completely opaque with a nice brown head.

S: Very much so coffee, some bourbon in there along with slight vanilla.

T: A ton of alcohol. I search for some coffee and malty notes, but really its a stretch. Tastes like bourbon.

M: Holy carbonation. An imperial stout should be heavier and more full bodied.

O: Pretty good. I would take their standard breakfast stout over this any day. In fact, I would take most barrel aged stouts over this. Not enough complexity for me.

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Photo of ABCJiugui
3.5/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Edit- second bottle
No date on bottle, but aged at least 3 months (according to the store I bought it from).

A- same as below- head is minimal, even if the pour is hard, dissipates quickly with no lacing to speak of. Then again, what are you expecting with an RIS of this kind? For what it is, it is pleasant to look at.

S- milder coffee (this is a big difference), vanilla is more present. Bourbon is still a bit lacking (again, my experience is limited). Alcohol tingle is milder upon exhale than a fresh bottle.

T- MUCH milder coffee bitterness. Still present, just not overpoweringly acrid and out of balance as in a fresh bottle. Sweetness is more obvious as a result and flavors are more in balance- not particularly chocolate as some might think, but there is a roasted malt sweetness that comes thru. Bitterness is more reserved due to age (drank with smoked fish and fatty foods).

M- mild carbonation at this point, smooth, full bodied, but not chewy- still a little slick.

Overall, an AGED bottle, even one as few as a couple months, makes a world of difference for me. If you enjoy the coffee flavor, drink it fresh by all means. As for the bourbon/wood flavors, it's still muted, but a bit more pronounced with age as things are more in balance without the coffee overpowering everything. I also drank mine with smoked salmon and eggs, so it was more fitting as a literal "breakfast" stout, and the fat perhaps blunted the coffee onslaught. I still don't think this warrants anything near its price, and fresh, I was tempted to toss it outright.

NOTE: I can only recommend a few months of aging- accounts from beer buyers at wine shops I frequent have mentioned the flavor being quite bad when past 1 year or close to it. As I have yet to have this experience, I'd limit my recommendation for aging to a few months.

First review 3/23/08
bottle from a fresh 4 pack, poured into small tulip, no date.

A- opaque dark brown with lighter brown edges against light. head is espresso foam colored, dissipates quickly into thin rim around that leaves surprisingly good initial lace.

S- Coffee outright (not espresso, but black coffee). Oak wood/woody smell is also strong (perhaps this is the bourbon wood smell, I'm not that familiar with bourbon). Vanilla was apparent when I ATE something with vanilla extract in it (in this case, homemade biscotti), otherwise I can't smell it over the coffee and oakiness. Finishes very coffee in the nose upon exhale, and almost smoky (I assume due to the oak aging).

T- Slightly sweet, quickly goes to sharp coffee finish, first sips reveal refreshing hop bitterness- citric in nature, leaving the impression that the beer is drier than it actually is. Both coffee and hops linger to tickle/tingle the mouth a good bit. Really reminds me of a cup of black coffee with a couple sugars in it. I don't know think that's a good thing- more malt and sweetness would have given a better balance, as well as more muted coffee bitterness.

M- Smooth, light but sharp carbonation. Surprisingly light in feel in the mouth- not nearly as viscous as one might expect from 10abv.

Overall, a nice american double imperial stout, but not the greatest. It has its own particular coffee forward character, but for me, it doesn't warrant such high praise- my own taste leans towards sweeter chocolate stouts (I tasted/smelled very little chocolate in this, despite what others wrote). I do feel the coffee and woody flavor is quite overpowering in comparison to other components- again, more malt and sweetness would offer more balance to this beer. I fear labeling this beer overrated, but on a personal subjective basis, this is not an all timer for me. I do have 4 more bottles to try, so perhaps my view will change, as I think my expectation for something thicker and more sweet may have colored my judgment. In the end, a nice (particularly if you love coffee), but not great beer.

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Photo of radioscooter
3.5/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Late to the party on this one but happy to be here. And hey - the bros. haven't done a review yet either!

Poured into my new little "Dry Dock" taster glass I got in my first ever BIF trade.

Thought I did an aggressive pour but got zero head. Pitch black. When I swirl it, I get a mollasses syrupy coating on the glass and a teensy bit of cafe brown foam that dissipates very quickly.

Smells bourbony, coffee-ish. Maybe too much coffee for me. We'll see. Not getting much, if any vanilla or oak.

Too cold. Aaaand way too much coffee grounds taste for me. Guess that's why it's a breakfast stout. I get it now. Not going to drainpour but not lovin' it. Maybe it will sweeten as it warms up.

Nope. Sorry, not my style but I can see why some folks love it.

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Photo of Luk13
3.51/5  rDev -23%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Bottle. Pitch black pour, almost no head. Aroma is really strong I could already smell the coffee while it was pouring. Strong coffee notes, bourbon, booze and tobacco. Taste is a potent mix of espresso coffee and bourbon. Palate is actually dissapointingly thin with huge bourbon/alcohol burn on the end. Good, but still, generally dissapointing. Very hard to drink.

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Photo of mnstorm99
3.51/5  rDev -23%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Pours a nice black color, but I really have to work to get a quick fading decent head (which is somewhat common for Impy Stouts).
Aroma is very nice with an in your face bourbon barrel punch to the face and a rounded coffee and malt background.
OK...they have lost me now, the taste is ok, but this is a muddled mess. Complex? Or...just too much going on? I'll go with the latter. I get the bourbon, I get the coffee, I get the great malt, and I get a good bitterness. These this didn't seem to marry very well here for me.
Mouthfeel is almost perfect, carb. levels are spot on and this one isn't too thick (like many impy stouts). But, again the drinkability of this one (especially for the price) is pretty low compared to others.
I think I'll stick to Breakfast stouts and Bourbon barrel stouts seperatly. More for all of you :)

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.52/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance - opaque black, not even a little color on the edge. A thin layer of mocha bubbles on top. Some spotty lacing, rather random.

Aroma - very dark roasted malt, with definite scents of chocolate, espresso, and charred oak.

Taste - an intense play of the oak barrel with the chocolate. At times the char almost tastes peppery like chipotle. Not much else gets through besides the alcohol on the swallow. The burnt, charred flavor is more intense at first and mellows with temperature. It's basically a chocolate and bourbon experience, but it is so over the top that it's a bit of a chore to enjoy. Some intensities of flavor I like, but this bourbon influence tends to take over the profile making it hard to pick out and enjoy any other flavors.

Mouthfeel - not as heavy as I expected but still silky smooth. Good amount of carbonation and still lays down a serious layer on the palate.

Drinkability - this is a very intense beer, and while I like some of the bourbon barrel styles, this one is a little too wound up for me.

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Photo of DovGibor
3.55/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

8 oz. pour at On Tap in Whole Foods Columbus circle. (Founders did a tap takeover the day before and 9 of their beers were still pouring.)

Pitch black with a hair of head that lingered nicely. Very minimal aroma, just a touch of roast but not much else. Mouthfeel is full with light carbonation on the tongue.

Rich and smooth flavor. Well balance of roasted malt and bourbon barrel. No noticeable alcohol in the flavor; well integrated for 11%.

Overall it's an enjoyable stout, but didn't live up to the reputation.

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Photo of Trifecta1
3.58/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Bottles on mulitple occasions; both absolutely fresh and up to 2 years old.

A - Deep brown/black, decent head retention for the ABV.

S - Coffee, chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, not much else, not very complex, but it does smell good.

T - Ashy chocolate, malt, light coffee, slight bourbon and vanilla.

M - Creamy, full-bodied, sticky. Coats the tongue in a single sip. Decent carbonation, not over or underwhelming.

O - Does not live up to the hype, plain and simple, partly because there IS so much hype. It is, however, a good stout, but as far as bourbon barrel stouts go, there are countless better examples.

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Photo of ottovon
3.58/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

got this in a trade with stoutfiend27. thanks!

A: Pours a jet black, with a brown head that fell quickly.

S: huge coffee smell, with a hint out bourbon and vanilla.

T: dominating taste is coffee. there is some roastyness. bourbon and vanilla is in the background. as it warms the bourbon, vanilla, and some chocolate come through more. and you can taste some alcohol.

M: medium with low carbonation. warming of alcohol.

D: it is a good beer, but could probably only drink 1 or 2 in a sitting, and not because of the abv.

bottled on: 02.16.09
drank on: 04.24.09

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Photo of bulletrain76
3.58/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle thanks to bret27. Black with a tan head. The aroma has dominating coffee, mixed with plenty of oak and alcohol. Hot flavor with a little bourbon, wood, and coffee. Medium-full body with some tannic, woody astringency and alcohol burn in the finish. A blast of flavor, with a cool mix of coffee and bourbon that works a little better than in the aroma. The mouthfeel definitely brings it down though, with too much astringency and alcohol. This is one that I can see liking a lot better with a good deal of age on it to soften things.

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Photo of NiceTaps
3.59/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle (from 2/17/12) in a snifter glass.

A- pours opaque black, no head or lacing, thin mocha film that does not last. It kinda looks like flat cola.

S- Chocolate right up front which I thought to be a sign of good thins to come, I was wrong. There's some roasted malt, coffee, molassses, vanilla. The aromas come and go as the beer warms. The predominent stench of booze hides any certain identity.

T- The aromas try to show themselves in the form of flavors but the booziness sets up a roadblock.

M- Slick ,heavy, and boozey.

O- I don't get it...all the hype and not even close to FBS for me. I don't like all the booze here. An IPA and a snifter of B&B would please me much more. I feel that my ratings could be even lower, but the rest of BA can't be wrong. I gave it every chance, oh, well.

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Photo of byronic
3.61/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

On draft and poured into a snifter, looks delicious and smells inviting. There are hints of cocoa and a nice dark roast along with some heavy barrel presence. Unfortunately after the hype and the appealing pour the disappointment started settling in. The flavour definitely backs up the smell along with a few other notes such as vanilla; however the barrel aging and alcohol presence is at best overwhelming. There is no subtlety as this is very much brute force. It very much diminished the enjoyment of this brew.

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Photo of TheFlern
3.61/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks Robwestcott!

Appearance: Black with a little brown tint to it. Head is mud brown that dissipates to a thin layer, decent lacing.

Smell: Bourbon, oak, malty sweetness behind that. Light coffee and chocolate in the background.

Taste: Far more balanced than the nose. Bourbon, coffee, chocolate, roasty malts. This stout has it all and in very complementary proportions.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly light and smooth. Not very much roasted bitterness, of course no hop bitterness. Light carbonation. Drinkable for the abv.

Overall: This is just a great beer. I highly recommend it.

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Photo of Sarlacc83
3.62/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in Lost Abbey tulip. 2010 vintage. Courtesy of TPatuto.

Appearance: Pitch black, but very little lacing.

Smell: Caramel and vanilla from the bourbon. Brown sugar and dark chocolate dominate, but I'm surprised by the lack of coffee. I suppose it's because it's almost 2 years old at this point.

Taste: The nose knows. Caramel, vanilla, bourbon, and dark chocolate. There's still some alcohol left over in this, and not in a pleasant way; it's far too sharp. Though the sharpness dissipates some as the beer warms. However, the alcohol presence overwhelms the aforementioned flavors as I don't find them particularly strong in any aspect.

Mouthfeel: This is where the beer loses me. KBS is heavily carbonated and comes off surprisingly thin. More importantly, it feels like it's keeping the flavors off my tongue. I figured with the lack of lacing and bubbles, this might have sat down a bit further in the glass.

Overall: Good, but not great. This is the second bottle I've had and I haven't been impressed either time. (I wanted to give this a second chance since I first had it when my palate was a bit less far along.) I suppose it's fair to mention I don't much like FBS for the same reasons as mentioned above, and I can see how people would like both of these for their their balance. But I would search for Founders Imperial Stout instead.

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Photo of Goalcam
3.62/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Love stouts and had high expectations for this one. The smell of coffee is very overpowering on this one. For me this is a little too bitter and the taste tends to linger longer than I'd like. Also, seems like very little if carbonation if any. I hope the coffee stouts are just a trend, there seems to be too much focus on this niche.

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Photo of RappAttack
3.63/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: black like sucks in all light black with a thin brown head that fades quickly
S: in descending order: of bourbon, vanilla, alcohol, a small hint of chocolate
T: bourbon really comes through in the taste along with heavy vanilla some chocolate and coffee, a nice sweetness to it
M: full bodied, viscous,velvety carbonation
O: I have never been a huge fan of bourbon barrel stouts but this one is very drinkable. the flavor of the vanilla and chocolate really come out as it warms making me like it even more. the bourbon is still there but just adds to the warming.

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Photo of MaxxDaddy
3.63/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours stout black with a little tan head. Aroma is big on coffee and what smells a little bit like rye. Some bourbon traces in there as well. Taste brings much more strong coffee and roasted malts, with some vanilla interlaced. Decently thick on the palate with a bitter coffee finish. While I do enjoy this beer, I think the original Breakfast is better.

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Photo of phishdaly
3.65/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark chocolate brown with a faint tan head

S - chocolate syrup, sweet bourbon

T - dark chocolate, sweet bourbon, raisins. Immediately taste the chocolate notes, followed by a sweet bourbon, and a little overwhelming alcohol warmth. Not picking up any coffee.

M - full bodied. A little syrupy. Would prefer a little more carbonation.

Overall - I feel these big beers win ratings for alcohol content. The alcohol is a bit too much. Though it may mellow out with aging. I've been getting into single malts and small batch bourbons/whiskeys. Barrel aged beers tend to be too reminiscent of sweeter low quality whiskeys. I was attracted to this beer for the time and care listed in it's preparation. I would try it again, but am glad I only got a bottle for now at $6/bottle in NYC. Would like to age one and see how it matures.

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Photo of jeffthecheff
3.65/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Thanks Joe for splitting the bottle. 2009 edition. Pours into my tulip glass completely black with the slightest bit of red on the top edge. A nice dark brown head forms as mostly lace until a swirl livens it up.

The aroma is strong and boozy, with a slight alcoholic burn. Chocolate and vanilla comes through very clearly. A bit of cinnamon rounds out a boozy, dessert like nose. Bourbon is thankfully in the background.

KBS is very thick, so the first thing I thought of was chocolate syrup. Some burnt sugar, bourbon, vanilla, and ice cream round out a thick, boozy tasting beer. The carbonation is really low, accentuating the creamy mouthfeel of this huge beer. It's not something I would like to have very often, and a half bottle was more than enough. I remember having this fresh last year and was not impressed. This needs a year at least for my tastes, as I'm not a huge bourbon fan.

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Photo of Chris_Burton
3.67/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Deep black body and a large, fluffy, beige head from an aggressive pour, which soon died down. Unsurprisingly, the nose is dominated by bourbon. Lots of coffee and chocolate flavour as to be expected from the style, but with a boozy, bourbon finish. Mouthfeel is as smooth as silk.

KBS is a beer with a huge reputation, but I have to admit I'm somewhat disappointed with it. I've had many imperial stouts I'd rate higher than this. I guess I'm not a fan of the bourbon flavour (if I have a whisky, I'll make it a scotch). I'm grateful I got to try it, but unlike some other hard to find imperial stouts I've had the pleasure of trying, I won't be too sad if I never have another one.

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Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) from Founders Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,807 ratings.