Friday is Founders’ KBS Day: where to find it on tap

Ready to go whale hunting? Friday is April Fools’ Day but, more importantly, it’s KBS Day. The arrival of Founders Brewing Co.’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout — made with chocolate and coffee and aged in oak bourbon barrels [11.2% ABV] — will set off the usual frenzy, with beer obsessives racing from store to store to snap up singles and hoping to stumble onto the Oh-So-Rare Yes,-We’re-Selling-It-In-Four-Packs Four-Pack. There will be a bit more package available ’round here than in 2015.

Want know where to get a taste of KBS straight from the barrel? These fine establishments will be tapping the liquid goodness on Friday [4.1]: the Malted Barley Providence [334 Westminster St; 5 pm]; Jacky Boy Publik House [27 Aborn St, Cranston]; Brass Monkey [800 Allens Ave, Providence]; Doherty’s Ale House [30 Jefferson Blvd, Warwick]; and Doherty’s Lakeside [446 Tiogue Ave, Coventry; 6 pm]. But keep your eyes glued to them social mediums: other places will be breaking out their KBS allotment in the days and weeks to come. [Plus: Doherty’s Lakeside is hosting a KBS Vertical Beer Dinner, with pours of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Tix are $100/person; click here for the menu and reservations.]

Bonus content: Robert Allen of The Detroit Free Press wrote an in-depth story on “how brewers age Founders KBS.” Some highlights:

“Founders brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki said KBS started as an experiment with a few bourbon barrels in the early 2000s, but people didn’t know they wanted it. ‘Those 4-packs sat in there, and nobody cared,’ Kosmicki said.” [Note: the KBS label honors Jeremy with the copy: “The Amazing Kosmicki’s Highly Acclaimed KBS,” plus the motto, “Is Good For Everything a Flavored Stout Ought To Be Good For.”]

“We recently took a trip with its makers about 3 miles from the brewery to Michigan Natural Storage to get a taste of the KBS aging process. To reach the caves, you take an elevator ride 85 feet below Grand Rapids. The former gypsum mines spread for about 6 miles of mostly narrow passages where the temperature and humidity are tightly controlled…Among the 7000 barrels on racks are future KBS and Backwoods Bastard, a Scotch ale. Heystek sprayed sanitizer on four of the barrels and popped out the bungs, removing samples with a turkey baster to give us tastes comparing Backwoods and KBS brews aging since as far back as 2011. The alcohol bite was more noticeable in the fresher samples, while the older ones had more velvety, dessert-wine flavors.”

“Craft-beer drinkers…will be watching for that brown and tan-colored KBS label…‘There’s something to the mystique of something special to find out in the stores, but it’s a lot to live up to,’ Kosmicki said. ‘Any time you get that much hype for something, it’s like, “Well, I hope people like it. I hope this isn’t a disappointing year or something.” ’ ”

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Read all about it: How ‘Gansett “became cool again”; why Americans have such bad taste in beer; hunting for “dusties”; and more

tall-boyOn Saturday, we search Google News for “beer” so you don’t have to. Here’s this week’s top five. And please take the time to scroll down and catch up on our posts re: what’s available at local breweries today, the America On Tap beer event at Roger Williams Park, and the “Get To Know Your Brewer” profile of Grey Sail’s Josh Letourneau.

How Narragansett Became Cool Again, by Rebecca Greenfield @ Bloomberg Business [“Apart from being cheap, Narragansett has hit its stride by making a play for young drinkers who like smaller craft breweries.”]

Why Americans have such bad taste in beer, by Roberto A. Ferdman @ The Washington Post [“Dismayed by the popularity of tasteless beers, economist Ranjit Dighe decided to figure out the origins of Americans’ preference for pilsners, lagers and other milder brews. What he found is that a taste for bland beer might as well run in Americans’ veins.”]

How to Hunt for “Dusties,” the Cheap Unicorns of the Beer World, by Jake Davis @ Eater [“Shops with knowledgeable clientele won’t keep desirable bottles long, but bargains abound in stores that try to sell the right beers to the wrong market.”]

Success pours from Buffalo Wild Wings’ beer program, by Nicole Troxell @ Fast Casual [“Now the company is jumping on the local products trend by encouraging stores to feature local and regional craft beers in their area.”]

And here’s a follow-up to a link from last week: House Overrides Hassan Veto of Bill Allowing Baby On Beer Label, from the Associated Press via New Hampshire Public Radio

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Recycled Bottles & Cans: Local pros pick their favorite IPAs

On Wednesday, Paste magazine posted the results of a truly Herculean and heroic undertaking. In “Blind Tasting 116 of the Best American IPAs: We Have a Winner,” Jim Vorel and his hardy group of judges dared to “bruise [their] palates over the course of weeks with a metric ton of hop bitterness.” The list [and Thursday’s notes on the Providence Phoenix] inspired us to dig into the Bottles & Cans archive for these words, which ran in the August 1, 2014 issue  in advance of the fourth annual IPA Day. We asked our beer industry pals to choose their current and all-time favorite IPAs [and double/imperial hop bomb] that are available in RI, and the best Rhody-made IPA [a few replies were slightly tweaked].  Bracketed numbers have been added to beers that made the Paste top 50. [And we didn’t ask our panel if any of their choices have changed in the past eight months; if so, they’ll let you know in the Comments section at the bottom of the post.]

Choosing your favorite IPA is like choosing your favorite child — it’s neither possible nor fair. For me, it always depends on the mood and the situation. Only have time for one, and looking for a bitter IPA? That one has to be Smuttynose’s Finestkind IPA. It just crushes your taste buds with great flavor and bitterness. For an all-night IPA, Firestone Walker’s Union Jack [#9] is hard to beat for a great-tasting, citrus-filled IPA. At 7.5% ABV, it will sneak up on you, but the flavor and balance is tough to beat.

For a double IPA, I like Deviant Dale’s from Oskar Blues — it’s not listed as a double, but I think it is. It comes in a big can — 16 ounces, it’s 8% ABV, it’s hoppy. What’s not to like?

Favorite RI IPA: I’m very impressed with Proclamation’s Tendril. I look forward to seeing that one in cans or bottles.

For an all-time fave in the straight IPA category, I have to say Smuttynose’s Finestkind. They recently tweaked their recipe and it is drinking better than ever.

burtonbatonIf I was going to pick a double or imperial IPA I would certainly say Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute or any of the Stone Enjoy By series…and though it is not technically an imperial IPA, Dogfish Head’s Burton Baton, which is a hybrid style that blends an imperial IPA and an English-style Old Ale and ages it on oak, is one of my absolute faves.

Keeping it local is awesome: I love Foolproof’s Backyahd, but nothing can taste better than Decadence when it is on at Trinity Brewhouse.

I’ve been doing “research” into IPAs for several years and decided to let my purchasing patterns do the voting. When I see Maine Beer Company’s Lunch [#2], I buy Maine Beer Company’s Lunch. Ballast Point’s Sculpin [#20] runs a close second. Victory’s Dirt Wolf also does some damage to my bank statements.

On the local front, I enjoy elements of all of the RI IPAs, but Proclamation’s Tendril is the one I order most.

ASHLEIGH: My favorite RI-made IPA is Trinity IPA. Not only is it the flavor of this beer, but it’s the experiences that go with it. It makes me think of the first time I tried it, hanging out at the Hot Club with some friends on a sultry summer afternoon. One of my go-to bottled IPAs.

My favorite IPA is Firestone Walker’s Union Jack [#9]. This is a West Coast-style IPA, and while it’s bursting with hints of citrus and pineapple-scented hops, it’s balanced by sweet malty goodness.

tendrilKRISTIE: My favorite RI-made IPA is Tendril from Proclamation Ale, with big tangerine and piney deliciousness, but kept in check by a solid malt backbone. As for an IPA that you can pick up in Rhode Island, though only on precious occasions, my favorite is Maine Beer Company’s Lunch [#2] — it’s like squeezing a fresh grapefruit. I’m in love with anything from MBC. All their beers are clean, fresh, and well-executed.

I love IPAs, they are by far my favorite type of beer! And how lucky we are to be living in the heyday of IPA! My all-time favorite is Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo [#43]. I love its big bold flavor, the citrus, the piney, herbal character, and it finishes with the right amount of bite. It’s just a gem of a IPA! My second pick is Smuttynose’s Finestkind — it’s hoppy, crisp, and just plain delicious! Third is Green Flash Brewing’s Green Bullet; it’s a more complex IPA with citrus flavors and undertones of pine and floral hops. There is also a very clean sweet malt flavor at the end.

My homegrown favorite is Foolproof’s Backyahd. I love its hoppy and citrusy taste. It’s a very easy-drinking IPA and my go-to recommendation for customers first trying an IPA.

IPAs are, without a doubt, my favorite style of craft beer. How could one not like the complexity of a great IPA with the notes of citrus, pine, or resin? A great IPA doesn’t have to have a huge ABV or IBU, but one with a well-rounded nose, flavor, and finish leaves you feeling refreshed, not feeling buzzed after two sips. Lagunitas IPA [#35] is my favorite beer. Its West Coast hops and nice malt backbone balance the beer and makes it a winner for anyone who tries it. At 6.2% ABV and only 42 IBUs, mixed with the right amount of citrus/resin, it’s a home run for me — just what you want from a well-rounded IPA.

Aaaarghh . . . hands down my favorite IPA is Heavy Seas’s Loose Cannon [#7]. On tap, in a 12-ounce bottle, or its cask version dispensed from a beer engine, nothing satisfies my craving for hops like Loose Cannon. Another great alternative for IPA lovers is Wachusett’s Celebration of IPA mix pack of 12-ounce cans: Wachusett Light; Larry, a heavyweight, packing 85 IBUs and 8.5% ABV; their original “purple” IPA; and the West Coast-inspired Green Monsta. It’s an outstanding collection of hoppy greatness!

IPA: Firestone Walker’s Union Jack [#9]. Imperial: Firestone Walker’s Double Jack. Both beers are balanced but have a great hop nose and flavor.

My favorite IPA is Stone IPA. This West Coast-style IPA packs a nice hop punch and has the perfect combination of great citrus flavors and bitterness. I find myself gravitating back to this even when there are a number of special release IPAs available in the market.

My recent go-to double IPA is Victory’s Dirt Wolf. Great aroma and perfectly balanced. I really enjoy the flavors of all of the hops in this beer (Citra, Simcoe, Chinook, and Mosaic) and at 8.7%, it drinks nicely at such a reasonable ABV.

Current favorite: Long Trail’s Limbo. It has a tropical nose, earthy hop profile, and a juicy, well-rounded flavor. It’s blazed a trail for new IPAs to follow. Limbo-ness is next to godliness.

Favorite local/double IPA: Revival’s Double Black IPA. How much flavor can you pack into a beer? Revival Double Black accepts the challenge and sets the bar. So dark. So malty. So delicious. This is one that never disappoints.

Strike out on KBS? “Settle” for these bourbon-barrel aged stouts

IMG_5465-920x613Beer geeks were in a frenzy the last coupla days, and it wasn’t just because of the Favorite Rhode Island Beer Bar Bracket [congrats again to Track 84]. The hysteria was set off by the annual release of Founders’ KBS  [Kentucky Brand Stout], the “highly acclaimed” [as it says on the label — and it’s true, sitting at #14 on Beer Advocate’s Top 250 Beers list] ale brewed with chocolate and coffee and aged in oak bourbon barrels. As always, the supply was super-limited — many stores received only one case [or even less]. Single bottles were priced between $5 and $10 [with a few unscrupulous stores charging even more] and ultra-scarce four-packs ran from $22-$30. The stock was snapped up a hour or two after “KBS is here!” posts were made; some obsessives desperately raced from store to store because of the one-per-customer limit and/or striking out along the way.

Taking another look at the BA Top 250, it’s easy to conclude that rare beer is the best beer. But with the overflow of fermented goodness, there is no shortage of readily-available brews that are just as good — or even better! — than the whales. Yes, KBS is a great ale [though we’re waiting to read the always-amusing “eh, it was better/worst last year” comments from beer geeks whose palates are graced with exceptional sensory recall], but if you didn’t track one down, you can head to a favorite better beer store and “settle” for other highly regarded barrel-aged stouts listed below. And if you were lucky [and/or obsessed] enough to score a KBS, do a blind taste test and see if the whale lives up to its lofty rep [and thanks to High Spirits and Nikki’s for research assistance].

17245442-mmmain Weyerbacher’s Sunday Morning Stout [with coffee, 11.3% ABV, four-packs]
North Coast’s Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin XVII [12.1%, corked 750ml]
Heavy Seas’s Siren Noire [imperial chocolate stout, 9.5%, bombers]
New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout [10%; bombers and four-packs]
And Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout [13.8%, #20 at BA] is still available here and there…And be on the lookout for Firestone Walker’s Parabola [14%, bombers]

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Last chance to vote in the Elite 8; plus, Derivative bottles and the Off-Centered Film Fest

Today’s the last chance to vote in the Favorite Rhode Island Beer Bar Bracket; the polls will close tonight around 10 pm. Two of the “games” are tightly contested, so your pick could be a buzzer-beater. The Final Four will be announced on Thursday and run through Sunday [3.29]. The two finalists will face off from Monday [3.30] till Thursday [4.2]. Rhode Island’s Favorite Beer Bar will cut down the nets and raise a triumphant glass on Friday, April 3.

OK, here are a couple of quick notes before we hop in the limo and head to Doherty’s Irish Pub to be first in line for the Founders’ CBS release party

Deriv A heads up from Dave at Proclamation Ale Co.: “Friday, March 27th 5-8 pm = bottle release night for Derivative! Come down to the brewery and grab some in bottles! (and just saying, this batch that got bottled is the best batch ever… )” If you can’t get to West Kingston, you’ll be able to snag bombers of the divine Galaxy-hopped pale ale at select beer stores in the next day or three.

Are you a beer-loving aspiring filmmaker? Then you should enter a short [three-minute-or-less] cinematic masterpiece in the 8th Annual Off-Centered Film Fest, presented by Dogfish Head and the Alamo [TX] Drafthouse Cinema. The theme: “Yacht Rockin’.” Combine water and weirdness and whatever else you can conjure to bring the concept to entertaining life. The sponsors promise the winner “a boatload of goodies, not to mention glory.” Head to the website to see last year’s winners and glom the guidelines [films must be submitted by March 31].

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Get in line for Founders’ CBS and Brian Oakley and Mike Iannazzi’s Dark Art

Remember: The Favorite Rhode Island Beer Bar Bracket voting closes on Wednesday! While you muse on your Final Four picks, here are two rare brews to line up for:

dark_rt Every year, Sierra Nevada presents Beer Camp, “the ultimate brewing experience.” Participants get special tours of the brewhouse, cellars, hop rooms, bottling line, and hop yard — and collaborate with SN’s “mad beer scientists” to produce unique and one-time brews [some of them get national distribution in the limited edition Beer Camp 12-packs]. Last summer, Brian Oakley of Julians and Mike Iannazzi of Nikki’s Liquors made the trek to Beer Camp and conjured a beer called Dark Art. Brian says it’s a “strong black ale dry hopped with an experimental hop related to Simcoe [and] dosed with almonds from the local almond farm right near the brewery.” The duo “haven’t even tasted it yet,” and you can share the first taste with them tonight at Julians. The keg will tapped at 6:30 pm. And if you want to enter to win a trip to the 2015 Beer Camps [in Chico, CA June 17-19 and Mills River, NC July 29-31], go to Sierra Beer Camp for all the details.

CBS Ready to chase a whale? Founders Brewing Co.’s Canadian Breakfast Stout [CBS], an imperial ale [10.6% ABV] made with chocolate and coffee and aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels, is making its first appearance since 2011 [draft only]. It’s at the top of the Rare Beer Charts [and has a 100 ranking on the beer sites]. The first batch to ever be tapped in Rhode Island [Founders entered our market in 2012] will start pouring at Doherty’s Irish Pub in Pawtucket on Wednesday [3.25] at 6 pm [the poster says the event runs through 9, but the CBS will likely disappear looooong before then]. They may want to borrow a take-a-number machine from a nearby bakery or deli to cut down on jostling and lend some order to the stout-spearing. And if you miss out tomorrow, plan waaay ahead: CBS will be at Doherty’s Ale House on October 15, aka Beervana Eve.