BeerQuestABV: What do you know about Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout?

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CINCINNATI -- Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) is no secret in
the world these days. Most folks in the Midwest know the acronym as a
delicious, bourbon barrel-aged beer, not as the oldest Korean
broadcasting network.

The search for this beer is fraught with red herrings, as collectors
make a mad dash from bottle shop to bottle shop seeking to purchase
singular bottles of the silky, syrupy nectar, only to be told "We just
ran out."

But wait a minute -- just how did this beer get so popular, and what
does that mean for beer fanatics? KBS all started as an experiment.

As we know today, barrel aging is extremely popular. Our local brewers
are already rolling out barrel-aged beers in spades, what with
MadTree's extremely sought after bourbon barrel-aged Axis Mundi, and
Fifty West's frequent experiments with barrels, like their barrel-aged
version of 10 & 2.

In 2003, when Founders Brewing's, well, founders, decided to put their
already phenomenal Breakfast Stout in Jack Daniel's barrels, it was
the beginning of something beautiful.

After changing up the batch a bit to match the bourbon flavors in the
beer, a star was born, and the first 4-packs of KBS were sold. By
"sold," I mean they were put on shelves with price tags.

This was not quite the era of craft beer insanity we live in now. $20
for a 4-pack of any beer was a hard sell. Sometimes things are still
like this.

Distributors don't want to take on a beer they don't think will sell
well enough to make a profit. Beer is a great business, but it's still
that: A business.

Once Founders took KBS to the Great American Beer Festival in late
2005, things changed. The Great American Beer Festival used to be a
much smaller event than the sprawling mass of beers and bodies it is

Most of the attendees were brewery operators or lucky beer collectors,
but the vast majority of festivalgoers were from the retail space.
These retailers got one taste of KBS and knew they needed it all
around. Requests came far and wide, and the rest, as they say, is

Only several short years ago, in the distant memories of 2011, one in
the Cincinnati area could buy multiple packs of KBS due to the lack of
knowledge in the craft beer area.

As word has spread, craft beer love has grown and the legend has
exploded, the KBS supply has had to reach more people with a modest
increase in supply. This means bottle limits, lines and the inevitable
"We just ran out."

In 2012, Founders had 1000 people waiting in line for their KBS
release at their Grand Rapids brewery. The year before, there had
barely been 100.

Now for the release, they use a ticketing system. That's right --
people who want to buy KBS from the Founders brewery have to get
tickets (Sometimes I wonder how well that would work for the
beer-loving masses in Cincinnati), just to wait in line.

Founders has expanded their barrel-aging program and their output
every year since 2012, but their supply will never be able to match
the frothing demand this beer carries.

As a brewery, Founders purchases more than 3000 bourbon barrels yearly
to age KBS, Backwoods Bastard (a personal favorite) and many other
limited releases, like most of their Backstage Series. They age all
these fantastic brews in a huge former gypsum mine. So many barrels,
they had to buy out space in a cave!

It's no coincidence these barrel-aged delights are all somewhat
difficult to obtain. When it comes to barrel-aging, Founders seems to
be a few steps ahead of everyone else. Maybe it's because they've been
doing it for so long, or maybe it's just because they make absurdly
good beer.

So if you manage to get a bottle or two of KBS this year, count
yourself among the lucky. While you're at it, make someone else lucky
too! Share it. You might make a believer out of someone else. Just
like that, the legend spreads.

For more on barrel-aged beer, beer recipes, homebrewing and all things
beer, go to:

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