Founders Brewing Company

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Stout - American Imperial
Ranked #12
Ranked #29
4.65 | pDev: 8.39%
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
Notes: 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.

KBS stands for "Kentucky Breakfast Stout"

ABV varies by batch.
Reviews: 3,572 | Ratings: 14,004 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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HopHunterCL from Ohio

4.33/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours deep brown almost black with two fingers of rocky tan head.
Aroma is heavy on bourbon with coffee and vanilla as well.
Flavor of dark roasted almost burnt coffee. Bittersweet chocolate with some vanilla come through with pretty heavy alcohol heat. Little bit of barrel character as well.
Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Mouthfeel is a little bit thinner than I expected.
I had very high expectations for this but unfortunately I did not enjoy it quite as much as other barrel aged stouts I have tried. That being said this is a delicious, well made beverage.

Jun 14, 2021
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blazerkor from Nevada

5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

It smells like coffee and bourbon.  There is the sweet woody smell of the bourbon backed up by the bold coffee stout.

It tastes sweet up front with a punch of liquor and then it's like a bitter bold chocolaty coffee.  It's so much like Founders Breakfast Stout but just stronger in every way.

It's got a medium body and is smooth in every way. The bubbles are smooth the liquid itself is smooth and then the finish is smooth bitterness and a little bit of wood.

Wow that's delicious.  It's better than the Mackinac Fudge and the Espresso varieties that I thoroughly enjoyed before ever having the real thing.  It's my favorite stout so far. 6 out of 6.

May 11, 2021
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cbuzz24 from Mississippi

4.67/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Chocolate, coffee, and bourbon all in one. The smoothness and ease with which it goes down is detrimental to your mental health with the 12% ABV. I am an IPA fanatic, but this one beats any IPA I have tried, hands down. Thank you Brewniverse in Shreveport, LA for carrying this.

May 08, 2021
Photo of Micaljoel82

1.75/5  rDev -62.4%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

The worst tasting beer I have ever had. A mix between cheap whisky and vomit. 6 hours after drinking one I can still taste it. The absolute worst tasting anything I've ever had. This is trash

Apr 25, 2021
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Hereforbeer92 from Illinois

5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Reviews are subjective, and based on opinion. But in this case there's no reason to get ticky tacky – this beer is a 5/5. It's not a 4.5/5, or a 4.7/5, or a 4.9/5, it's a 5/5.

I'm no beer expert, but I do know happiness when I feel it.

Of all of the things I love about KBS, happiness is the thing I notice the most. KBS excels in nearly every conceivable metric from a stout lovers' perspective, and while I don't advocate for using alcohol to influence your emotions on a regular basis, Founders KBS truly has made me happy every. single. time. I have consumed it. Every bottle – at least once, causes me to stop and appreciate how good it really is.

If you live in the midwest United States, and have this available to you on a regular basis, take a moment to appreciate that some of the best stouts of all time are available to you at a moments notice, and go purchase some immediately.

Apr 15, 2021
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detgfrsh from Texas

4.66/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

From a bottle produced 11/12/20. Pours black with a half inch of dark brown head. Smells of vanilla and roasted malt. Thick feel. Tastes of coffee, bourbon, and chocolate with some lingering bitterness. Excellent!

Apr 11, 2021
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trevormajor from Ohio

4.72/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

12 oz bottle, born on 3/6/20, poured into a snifter:
L - dark with a hazelnut head that lingered around the edges
S - malt, bourbon, a hint of coffee
T - wonderful blend of bourbon, malt and coffee with a touch of oak and chocolate on the finish
F - thick mouthfeel with minimal carbonation, very nice
O - a great beer that is just as good one year in

Mar 27, 2021
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Sigmund from Norway

4.18/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Shared 355 ml bottle at local tasting. Pitch black colour, no head. Strong and intense aroma of bourbon / oak / vanilla, nearly hiding the roasty, chocolate and coffee notes in the background. Low carbonation. Sweet and rich flavour, notes of bourbon, vanilla, oak, chocolate and coffee.

Mar 18, 2021
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GentleKnight1 from Illinois

4.16/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at local Meijer store for about $16 for a 4 pack. Pricey, but as of this writing, it is rated 100, while my fav Dragon's Milk is 91. Wish I could do this live, but here it unfolds as it happens. Taken from frig, very small pfftt as I pop the cap. Pours into glass...very dark color...head and legs like Marilyn Monroe...nice but getting old. Aroma a bit malty, but my sniffer pretty much got snuffed decades ago. Carbonation tingles the tongue, chocolate is there but not a Willy Wonka dream. One reviewer claims it improves as it warms, so I'll try to resist guzzling for now, but it's good stuff. Definitely smoother as it warms, and more bourbon and coffee flavors. Getting frothy as I swirl it in mouth. Given it's a "breakfast Stout", would probably be good with pancakes. Definitely better as it heats to room temperature ( or at 12% ABV, maybe it's me). Feed the cats (they love it when I sit on the floor). Beer warms some more. Chocolate seems more pronounced now. Only a few swigs left...will be sorry to see it go.

Overall: Definitely an experience. Great brew, although questionable if it beats my fav quaff. Certainly leaves you with a buzz. A once yearly indulgence ( on my budget). Worth doing again.

Mar 06, 2021
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BigIronH from Michigan

4.18/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This beer sets my expectations for barrel aged stouts. It’s all there. The bourbon, the wood, the chocolate, the coffee, and the vanilla all mingle together wonderfully. I love this beer and all it’s variations.

Mar 01, 2021
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MaxHops from California

4.94/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Surprisingly dry and non-heady for a 12% beer. The very present bourbon hit on the smell was pleasantly tamed in taste. Oh my my my, this..is a mouthful. Roasted malts and coffee but in a semi-sweet German/Swiss chocolate bar. The burnt and bourbon flavors match perfectly. I waited until 59 degrees and got a 3/4" head. I appreciate the lack of simple sugars giving this a dryer taste than one would expect. Alcohol is actually well hidden here in my opinion in taste though it is very present in the nose from the bourbon. Big difference. Big body, Curvacious and complex to the 9th. Do this.

Feb 21, 2021
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backblast from Alaska

4.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle aged 2 years - 2/2019 drank 2-2021. Dark roasted malt, boozy barrel, mellow coffee, dark chocolate and a nice mouth coating that lingers. Everything about this one comes together even more after it ages.

Feb 10, 2021
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spectru from Florida

4.04/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2/8/21 - Opaque coffee, tan head, not big, recedes to a cap; An intriguing aroma, rich, sweet; Mouthfeel: smooth, mild carbonation; Rich robust flavor, alcohol; I think I prefer Founder's Breakfast Stout. I guess I need to do a taste test.

Feb 08, 2021
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Guppy314 from District of Columbia

4.46/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a bottle, pours as an opaque deep brown with a two-finger dense khaki-colored head. Aromas of sweet-malt like molasses, cocoa, dark roasted coffee, toasted/burnt bread. Taste is very malt-forward (so rich coffee roasted barley and cocoa flavors - but also - an oppressive sugar load). Nicely, this brew, clocking in at 12.3% alcohol, manages to NOT taste "boozy" (the totally sugar masking that). Mouth-feel is creamy and full. Overall, this (for me) is a one-and-done beer; nice for once a week, but not as a regular go-to.

Feb 07, 2021
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psycHOPathy from Georgia

4.51/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 9/17/20

Pours dark brown with almost no head
Smells of wine, oak, chocolate, bourbon, roasted coffee beans, cherry pit, leather
Chocolate, coffee, vanilla, booze. Aftertaste of wine
A little viscous, not much carbonation

Can't help but feel my first try of this was affected by getting an older bottle and/or maybe from not serving it correctly based on the other reviews. But still a great beer

Jan 16, 2021
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Andrew_NYC from New York

4.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours opaque black with a dark brown head. Not as much lacing as you might expect.

Chocolate and booze on the nose. Malt and coffee in the background. That "barrel aged" smell is prevalent but really pretty well balanced. It just smells delicious.

Huge flavor. It's big and boozy, but also a nice bitter, malty backbone. There is a hint of sweetness but I certainly wouldn't call this beer sweet. I don't get much of the coffee flavor personally. I'd say the chocolate flavor is the stronger one. But bittersweet chocolate. The barrel flavor is there in the start and the finish but not overwhelming. It just gives the whole thing a nice edge and a long, warming finish.

It's full bodied and just a tiny bit viscous, but not at all syrupy. Just right for washing around your mouth for maximum flavor.

There are other exciting barrel-aged stouts out there but for balance and just perfect execution, this has to be one of the absolute best.

Jan 10, 2021
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WoodBrew from Ohio

4.35/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

I got a couple of bottles of this beer from my brother-in-law. It poured an opaque dark with an ecru ring head that is not leaving much lace. The scent had coffee flare with bourbon highlights. The taste was nicely balanced and easy to drink with espresso and roast base with subtle chocolate and bourbon presence. The mouthfeel was fuller in body and had good carbonation. Overall it is an excellent beer.

Jan 08, 2021
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Devin2424 from Connecticut

4.39/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter glass from a bottle.

Aroma- Limited coffee, mostly bourbon

Look- Black in color, medium brown head with some foam retention

Taste- Roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate, bourbon

Feel- Full body, somewhat sticky texture with decent carbonation

Overall, really well made stout, smooth, and well balanced with awesome flavor

Jan 04, 2021
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janubio from Spain

4.54/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Etre Gourmet, served at home in a snifter glass.
Black colour, medium brown head with short retention. Tiny lacing.
Aroma of chocolate, some coffee and bourbon, molasses, licorice, some vanilla.
Full body, sticky texture, normal carbonation. Finish is alcoholic, but sweet.
Taste floows the aroma. Very good.

Jan 02, 2021
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IBU_Hunter from California

4.32/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

*Aroma: limited coffee, roasted malt, no bourbon
*Looks: Beautiful, dark coffee/dark chocolate, good head with solid foam retention
*Taste: Very balanced, beautiful stout that hides 12% really well! Not too bitter but gives sufficient enough dark stout flavor that’s delicious. Bourbon taste too subtle.
*Final Verdict*: This is a real smooth stout that’s less complex than what I was expecting. The alcohol is well hidden but I really could not smell Bourbon and it was very subtle/hidden on tongue. That is both a plus & minus! Memorable but I won’t pay high $$ again to buy this.

Jan 01, 2021
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cyclonece09 from Wisconsin

4.41/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a snifter. Pours pitch black with a small light brown head. Smells of bourbon and coffee malt, very slight grape and other fruit. Tastes of coffee and chocolate malt with bourbon and slight fruit. Beer is full bodied and easy drinking, good carbonation. Overall, a very good beer.

Jan 01, 2021
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AccipiterofBeer from New York

4.92/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured into a stemless wine glass.

L: 4 Thin tan head. Body as black as night.
S: 5. Incredibly enticing. Bourbon. Vanilla. Oak. Molasses. Baker's chocolate
T: 5. Scrumptious. Chocolate. Coffee. Barrel characteristics.
F: 4.75. Tick bodied but smooth. Slight alcohol warmth not unexpected or overwhelming.
O: 5. World class, and becoming more accessible.

Dec 30, 2020
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twage04 from North Carolina

4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark black with medium carbonation. Licorice and molasses on the nose and taste is much the same with a subtle roastiness. Overall a pleasant beer to sip through, although the booze and molasses overwhelms much of the roastniness but alas it is still delicious

Dec 28, 2020
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PrinceAltoid from Illinois

5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I would be insanely skeptical of someone's opinion on beer, or any beverage at that, if they were to tell me that they legitimately didn't like KBS. I try my hardest to be open-minded and understanding of differing opinions, while also trying to not be pretentious, but I do genuinely find KBS to be THAT good. It's hard to understand a person not liking it.

I first had KBS about two years ago, not far outside of Charlotte, NC. As a fan of the chocolatey coffee flavor of Guinness, I was told the following: "dump that crap down the drain, you need to try KBS." Afterwards, directed to a store that stocked it (surprisingly, there were many around where I lived at the time).

Before I even finished pouring it, the strong, boozy smell of bourbon mixed with coffee hit my nose. Absolutely divine, I knew I was in for a treat. Poured it into a tulip, filled the lower portion with the liquid and let the head stay at the top. Talk about head; you don't get a ton with KBS, but it stays. First sip, and I knew that this was an instant favorite for me.

But that was 2018, and tastes change. I actually just learned today that I like broccoli, after absolutely hating it for the last 12 or so years of my life. I had to have KBS again.

Luckily, while taking a 5-week trip away from home, one of the biggest Chicagoland liquor stores opened up a location near where I live. And lo and behold, they had KBS in stock. It took me 3 days to make my way down there, but boy did I not at all hesitate.

So, here comes my real, modern-day review of KBS:

First off, as someone who's had it in the past (in 2018, two bottles, purchased a 4-pack but gave two away), I was a lot more aware of how to drink it. Refrigerated overnight, taken out roughly 20 minutes before drinking and left on the counter. Unfortunately no longer having a tulip after a moving mishap, I drank it out of a whiskey glass; worked quite well, actually. Poured slowly but not slow enough to not get a bit of head; the head is meant to be thin because it lingers a very long time no matter what.

The ideal temperature for a majority of your KBS drinking experience should be room temperature, but it's significantly better to ease yourself into that. As KBS is best enjoyed fresh, the boozy bite of the bourbon comes out best at cooler temperatures, but isn't something that's depended on for the quality of the brew. Instead, leaving it to sit out a while before pouring (typically reaches around cellar temperature, around 50-55 degrees) allows for the drink to be just cold enough that the boozy bite isn't horrible, but it's still there. The reason for this? KBS is best sipped in extremely small amounts, with one 12oz bottle lasting you about two hours in an ideal situation (mine usually end in about an hour though).

With this in mind, there comes stages to drinking KBS. The first is you get the strong boozy bite of the bourbon at first, it's not overpowering but it may burn just a little. The second is, as it hits around 60 degrees, you slowly start to taste all the good stuff: the coffee, dark chocolate, roasted toffee, and malted barley really start to come out, alongside being finished off with the bourbon, not nearly as strong anymore. The third is, as it reaches room temperature, being an absolutely majestic, fragrant, heavy but not strong beer full of everything you could ever ask for. The bourbon no longer bites hard, the feeling down the throat no longer burns. Every single sip gives you an explosion of every good flavor: starts with a bit of fading chocolate and strong espresso, malted barley and caramel with a little toffee mixed in to capitalize on the coffee, finishes with bitter hops and oakiness with a little bourbon that linger in the mouth the entire time until the next sip. Every aspect of it is near perfection in those regards; the coffee is in no way the acidic, burnt crap most people have come to expect from mass-produced coffee, it tastes like fresh espresso from coffee beans that were just roasted the day before. The barley doesn't stand out and is just hinted at slightly in very small waves, with the caramel and toffee mostly serving a "cherry on top" purpose. The bitter hops and oakiness, however, fill the mouth and complement the bourbon perfectly, which no longer tastes or feels boozy (partially due to the temperature, partially due to you having gotten used to it by now after having it at a much colder temperature in the beginning).

There is literally nothing to possibly fault this brew for; if perfection in beer has ever existed, this is it. Even at 4 12oz bottles for $17.99, it's still worth every penny and then some. By far the best beer I've ever had, but may very well be the best thing I've ever drank period.

But don't drink it everyday, even if money is no object to you. I can imagine this perfection losing its charm rather quickly if over-utilized.

Dec 26, 2020
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Rapscullion from Massachusetts

4.52/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a 2020 4 pack on release. Tried one immediatly and found the bourbon too be too assertive, so put the rest in the basement to mellow.
In December 2020 this is a vastly improved stout. The spirit has integrated but is still a little too assertive and the coffee is a touch too bitter on the finish.
A very nice stout and fairly easy to find but not quite in the highest rank.

Dec 21, 2020
KBS from Founders Brewing Company
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 14004 ratings