Unpopular Opinion: KBS is Overhyped

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Overhyped, overrated, overpriced; yes you are reading that right. I am using all of those words to describe Kentucky Breakfast Stout by Founders Brewing Co. Sorry not sorry, it is true. Maybe, just maybe, at one point in a lot of peoples eyes this was the best Bourbon Barrel Aged stout in the game. It never was for me, I certainly held it in higher regard back between 2012-2014 when less breweries were doing BBA Stouts really well.

So why the article? No I am not bashing Founders, I actually really like Founders and despite writing this article there is a good chance I will buy a KBS at some point this year (I have a few in my cellar from past years). I just have had this feeling toward KBS for a few years now and have talked and ranted about it to friends of mine in the community and while some agree off the bat, some don’t and I feel like my opinion toward this beer is important and not one people always want to explore. So we are exploring it!

Overrated seems harsh. Yeah, maybe it comes off as harsh. Don’t think I am saying KBS is a bad beer, that would be harsh and also not true. KBS is a great beer, but people hold it in such high regard and hence I find overrated to be the right word. Like I mentioned above, just think of all the breweries doing great BBA Stouts. Even just regionally here in Chicago so many breweries are doing amazing things with barrel aging beers. Here are some easy quick examples of barrel aged beers I rank higher than KBS in the Chicagoland area; Pipeworks The Jones/Hyper Dog, Transient Kentuckley, Revolution Deth’s Tar, Half Acre BA Big Hugs. I could make a really long list, but that seems unnecessary and overkill. You get the point, I guarantee you can do the same for whatever region you are in. Every year KBS just becomes a little less special and less unique. So many other breweries are cracking the code and making top tier BBA Stouts. Even Founders makes a better BBA beer in my opinion and I will get to that later. What I am saying is that I do not think in the year 2018 KBS is worthy of garnering the attention it gets as one of the biggest beer releases of the year.

KBS represents a lot of what is wrong with beer releases on a national scale. Founders is the largest independent craft brewery in the US. They can’t and don’t do anything on a small scale anymore. Every year they release Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS), the beer this article is about, an imperial stout aged in Bourbon Barrels. Despite it’s name it is not just a barrel aged version of Founder’s Breakfast Stout (a beer I actually love), the base beer for KBS is allegedly similar to FBS but has differences. The release of KBS every year marks a frenzy for everyone from beer snobs to casual beer drinkers to snatch up as much as they can. Hitting multiple stores in a day to grab each stores bottle limit and hoarding as much of it as possible. That sucks. I get why people do it and I am sure I have done something similar in the past but stockpiling a beer just because you can is dumb. That seems like a topic for another article. The release of KBS is just a larger scale version of a beer release at a brewery. Some people are able to get there, stand in line and walk out with the beer they desperately want to try while others are not. If you are not able to get to your local store the day they receive KBS within hours of them receiving it you are not going to get it. Walking in to a store and finding a readily available beer that you are excited to drink is awesome and that seems to rarely be the norm these days. Beer releases are now stressful by nature.

Founders are the masters of building hype. Founders rides the KBS hype train every year and now more than ever the hype can grow and extend to people who are even just getting into craft beer or are more casual beer drinkers because of how big they are. Their marketing and advertising team kill it, they make all their beers seem like you need to get them and if you don’t you are a craft beer leper. When hype is dying for a certain brand of theirs they stash it away a while and let it build back up until people are begging for those beers to return to the lineup (Double Trouble and CBS). I mean I was on the CBS hype train for sure, I was at the brewery picking up my bottle allotment. KBS has never not been in demand, every single year that beer sells out without a doubt. Sure you can argue that it is because the beer is so good that missing it if you are a craft beer fan is the end of the world. It is more that we are all almost conditioned every year that we are doing something wrong if we consider ourselves craft beer fans/nerds and we aren’t going out and trying to get KBS. As Founders has grown they have continued to make more and more KBS and it continues to still sellout every single year. Can’t knock them for building that kind of hype and maintaining it.

Is KBS worth buying? Short answer, no not really. You are going to pay probably $20-$25/4 pack best case scenario or anywhere from $7-$10 for a single bottle. KBS is one of the most price gouged beers. Don’t overpay for it, if it is more than $25/4 pack go somewhere else, that place obviously sucks and you should not support them. If you want a great barrel aged beer from Founders buy Backwoods Bastard. That beer is ALWAYS readily available, cheaper ($15/4pack) and is far superior in my opinion. It just isn’t KBS and doesn’t have the hype behind it so people don’t line up to buy it. I am pretty sure they announced it is available year round now as well so there you go. I will say for new craft beer drinkers I think drinking KBS is an important step in the process of building your craft beer resume. You need to check the classics off your list and KBS isn’t a must have in my opinion but it is certainly an important beer in the grand scheme of craft beer history. If you want to drink KBS do it at a bottle share, they pop up pretty regularly at those or grab it on draft somewhere, it is always popping up places on draft in Chicago.

-HPMSNS

Beer Review: Half Acre Double Daisy Cutter Pale Ale

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Half Acre, in my opinion, is the best brewery in Chicago and possibly the Midwest right now. Their year round lineup is incredible and their limited releases are equally as great. Double Daisy Cutter is the bigger version of their year round pale ale Daisy Cutter. Same basic malt bill but the hop additions are increased quite a bit. This beer drops only a few times a year and I look forward to it every time. Double Daisy Cutter comes in at 8% ABV.

Appearance: Hazy, golden copper with a 1 finger head. Frothy and nice sticky lacing down the glass. Always great artwork on these releases.

Nose: Dank resin, pine, some citrus, passionfruit, sweet candy notes and some pineapple. It is huge dank and citrusy with some juicy notes as well. It is like a beefy Zombie Dust.

Taste/Mouth: Tropical and citrus fruit notes, passionfruit, pineapple, grapefruit and orange. Nice dry bite of bitterness. It is really balanced nicely considering the huge amount of hop flavors. Good cereal and caramel malt notes as well. It is super balanced but full of such great hop flavors.

Price/Availability: $10 for a bomber at the brewery.

Overall: This is another bomb Double IPA from Half Acre. They continue to impress as Chicago’s best brewery in my opinion and this is a must have from them. There distribution foot print becomes bigger and bigger so it becomes easier to get, if you see it around definitely grab it.

Grade: A

Beer Review: Other Half & Holy Mountain By and By

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Managed to get some more stuff from Other Half from my friend back East in one of our recent trades. This is Other Half’s collab with Holy Mountain out of Seattle called By and By, it is a Brett IPA and comes in at 6.5% ABV.

Appearance: Huge fluffy 3 finger head. Milky, hazy golden orange color with lots of active carbonation. It retains the head for a while and then settles in to a thick layer with sticky lacing.

Nose: Fruity, yeasty aroma with pear and green apple. Smells a little Belgian-esque at first but the Brett is definitely present and you can pick it up as you dive deeper into it. Peach, pineapple and fruit punch aromas are very present as well.

Taste/Mouth: Just slightly tart with some pineapple, lemon, orange zest and lots of floral hop aromas. Some bready and yeasty flavors as well. It feels very carbonated. The mouthfeel is kind of harsh and the amount of carbonation kind of takes away from the flavor of the beer. You get some heat and it finishes really super clean.

Price/Availability: As far as I know this beer has only beer brewed one time, I got it in a trade.

Overall: This beer kind of locked in my feelings toward Brett IPAs, I am just not a huge fan. I had heard only great things about this beer and was obviously super excited to try it. Even with my doubts after having some Brett IPAs in the past that I didn’t love, I went in with an open mind. I found parts of this beer I really loved but it felt slightly overcarbonated and despite having some really nice pineapple and floral flavors it was harsh on the palate and felt hard to drink at times. I am glad I had it but I don’t think I need it again.

Grade: B-

Beer Review: Rushing Duck 4th Anniversary Brux IPA

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More beer from one of my favorite NY breweries and home of the infamous James the Brewery Cat, this is Brux IPA, the 4th Anniversary beer from Rushing Duck. Brux is a celebration of Rushing Duck turning 4 and a platform to show off their beloved brewery cat. Named after the unique strand of yeast Saccharomyces Bruxellensis, RD added pink peppercorn to give it an even more unique twist. Brux comes in at 7.2% ABV.

Appearance: Very hazy deep orange color with a nice 1 finger head, really great lacing. James is popping out of a birthday cake on the anniversary bottle and is also featured on the canned version, what more could you ask for.

Nose: Nice floral, tropical fruit, musty, white grape, some pine resin, lime, lemon, earthy, mango, pineapple and spicy hop notes. It features Azacca, El Dorado, Mosaic, Meridian hops.

Taste/Mouth: Floral, earthy, spicy and some lemon flavors initially. There are some nice tropical and pineapple flavors as well. You get an interesting spicy peppery flavor through the middle from the pink peppercorns. It is nice and easy to drink for 7.2% ABV and feels medium with a nice bite of carbonation. Finishes pretty clean and slightly bitter.

Price/Availability: This was a one time only bottle for the breweries 4th anniversary but they have since brought it back as a canned beer which comes around every once and a while.

Overall: James!!! Cheers to 4 years of Rushing Duck beers, 4 years of some damn good beers I might add. This was an interesting one, but one I enjoyed it quite a bit. Definitely great depth of flavor that kept me interested all the way through. The Saccharomyces Bruxellensis strain of yeast the beer was named after, along with the pink peppercorn addition and a hop bill full of some of my favorites (El Dorado & Mosaic, hello!) this was a great way to celebrate. They have since brought this one back in cans and made it a bit more accessible by lowering the ABV to 6%. Here’s to 4 more years RD!

Grade: B+

Beer Review: Carton 077-10014 (Motueka) East Coast Double IPA

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An east coast double IPA from my home state of New Jersey, this is Carton’s 077-10014 Double IPA featuring the Motueka hop. This series of beers are referred to as “dubviants” as they are all single dry hopped versions of Carton’s 077XX DIPA. This particular Dubviant displays the New Zealand hop Motueka. 077-10014 comes in at 7.8% ABV.

Appearance: Very hazy golden yellow 1/2 finger head with decent lacing. I’m a fan of Carton’s branding, their cans are very eye catching. Really nice looking beer.

Nose: Tropical fruit, lime, orange zest, grapefruit with some pine and resin notes as well. I was expecting a more dank nose honestly but it is pleasant.

Taste/Mouth: Nice tropical, pineapple and lime hop flavors. Pine and resin comes through from the nose as well. You need to dig kind of deep to really grab the Motueka elements of this beer I feel like mostly your just getting elements of the normal 077XX. There is some nice honey and caramel malt backing up the hop bitterness. Some floral notes as well and it finishes bitter and resiny. Semi thin to medium mouth, it feels light and crisp for being an 8%er.

Price/Availability: It is a rotating beer with hop availability I believe and is a brewery release if I am not mistaken. I got it in a trade.

Overall: It is a good beer, I honestly think I prefer the regular 077XX to this particular Dubviant though. The tropical and lime notes are very pleasant and it is an easy drinking beer for being 7.8%. 077-10014 also feels a lot more like a regular IPA to me than a double. This is the third Dubviant I have had and I preferred the others I had to this one. They are all good beers that I certainly would drink but don’t know if I would go out of my way to have this one again.

Grade: B

Beer Review: Pipeworks Grungeist Imperial IPA

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New ninja alert! Grungeist comes in at 9.5% ABV.

Appearance: Cloudy copper orange color with a 1 finger head. Sticky lacing and a head that dissipates to a thin layer. Typical ninja art.

Nose: Fruity and somewhat musty. White peach, stone fruit, white grapes, apricot, kiwi and some pineapple. Lemon and a malt backbone as well.

Taste/Mouth: Wow very unique flavors. White peach big time all the way through like a peach gummy flavored candy. Grapefruit, mango, apricot and grapes. Very juicy, flavorful and unique. You can pick up some heat but barely, it’s hidden well by the big juice and hop flavors. Keeps you interested.

Price/Availability: $10 a bomber in Chicago and pretty easy to find. Rotating as all the Ninjas are.

Overall: One of the most unique, if not the most unique Ninja to date. Grungeist is a new German hop and certainly has incredible depths of flavor. I am obviously a huge fan of this series (seeing as I have reviewed just about all of them) and I love they are pushing the boundaries of these single hop beers and using some new and different hops. This is an awesome and unique beer showcasing a hop I am sure we will start to see pop up more and more.

Grade: A-

Beer Review: Other Half Baby Diamonds Session IPA

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It seems like my readers wanna see more hype. Ask and you shall receive, here is another beer from Other Half out of Brooklyn. This is Baby Diamonds, the session version of their Green Diamonds IPA brewed with Galaxy and Amarillo. Baby Diamonds comes in at 4.8% ABV.

Appearance: 1/2 finger head which dissipates quickly, some good lacing and super hazy light golden yellow/orange color.

Nose: Tropical, lemon, pineapple, grapefruit, piney, floral and earthy hop aromas. You can pick up some biscuit malt as well. Covers most of what you would expect from Galaxy and Amarillo, not a huge dank nose.

Taste/Mouth: Good hop presence in the flavor for a session IPA with lemon, grapefruit, earthy and some pine/resin notes. Pretty big dose of bitterness for a session IPA. which I didn’t mind. Finishes dry and bitter but also crisp and slightly chewy. Medium carbonation and easy to drink while staying rather complex for a session IPA.

Price/Availability: Rotating brewery release got in a trade.

Overall: This is a pretty great session IPA. Galaxy and Amarillo always make for a nice flavor profile. It is more complex and has more depth than most of the session beers out there today. That being said I like my “session beers” to be easy to get and something I can just grab at the grocery store or liquor store. Not sure it is worth waiting in lines at the brewery but if it came my way again I would certainly drink it and enjoy it.

Grade: B