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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Info overload: Newport Craft Beer Festival, King of the Yahd, new Ballast Point brews, Hop Hunter arrives, and much more!

A whole lotta beer news has piled up in the last week or so. Let’s dig in:

The date for the 4th Newport Craft Beer Festival was finally announced: it will take place on Saturday, May 9 on the lawn at the Great Friends Meeting House [we guessed right about it moving to May, since the 9th Great International Spring Beer Festival usurped its last-Saturday-in-April slot]. Newport-Craft-Beer-FestivalThe fest is produced by Newport Storm and Pour Judgement Bar and Grill and features 30-plus breweries pouring during two sessions [12-3 and 4-7 pm]. And new this year: a VIB [Very Important Beers] Event on Friday, May 8 at Newport Storm HQ, with exclusive beers that won’t be poured at the Fest and the chance to chat with the brewers in an intimate setting. Tickets will be available soon; check the website and/or Facebook page for updates.

Speaking of Newport Storm and Pour Judgement, the former is releasing Rye of the Storm IPA. The 8%ABV brew is made with a huge helping of the spicy grain and a mix of Cascade, New Zealand Orbit, and German Tradition hops. Four-packs are in stores now…And Pour Judgement IPA, which is made for the bar on Broadway by the folks at Grey Sail, will be hitting the market in 12-ounce cans.

And King of the Yahd, Foolproof’s Imperial India Pale Ale [8.5%], has made its annual appearance. This year’s batch is made with Green Bullet and Southern Cross hops from New Zealand.

  Quick sips: Ballast Point’s Sculpin and Big Eye have been very well-received since their triumphant return, and more beers from the San Diego brewery will arrive next week: Even Keel, a seasonal session IPA [3.8%, in cans]; Victory At Sea, an exalted imperial porter [10%] made with coffee and vanilla beans; and Grapefruit Sculpin, brewed with grapefruit rind [if you see that one, don’t hesitate — the supply is very limited; we wrote, “The tartness of the title fruit adds another delightful component to the sumptuous Sculpin. You must try this beer”]…Sierra Nevada’s Hop Hunter has finally reached our tiny state. It’s a groundbreaking IPA made with steam-distilled hop oil. The aroma is a blast of hop manna, and it’s a piney taste treat. After 35 years in the better beer business, it’s even more impressive that SN continues to up its game…The latest offering in Heavy Seas’ Unchartered Waters series is Phantom Ship, a tripel aged in bourbon barrels [9.5%, in bombers]…The folks at Founders describe Blushing Monk [9.2%] as “essentially an ’Imperial Rübæus,’ [made with] four times the amount of raspberries as Rübæus and fermented with a Belgian yeast strain.” It’s the first 2015 release in their Backstage Series, which shares the Michigan brewery’s experimental brews in 750ml bottles…And mark your calendar [no foolin’]: Founders’ KBS [Kentucky Bourbon Stout] will hit stores on Wednesday, April 1…Three of Firestone Walker’s superb brews will soon be available in cans: Union Jack [IPA, 7.5%]; Easy Jack [Summer Session IPA, 4.5%], and Pivo Hoppy Pils [German Pilsener, 5.3%]…Stone’s next batch of Enjoy By4.20.15 — will be available in six-packs [!] for the first time…And CraftBeer.com, the Brewers Association’s website, has produced a Beer Styles Guide, with visual representations of the wide world of brews, a “concise and systematic” tasting sheet, a text guide with “an alphabetical list of triggers — from alcohol to yeast variety — to help describe possible characteristics of a specific beer style,” and more engaging Beer 101 info and fun.The BA folks note that “the list was pared down to 77 common US beer styles inside of 15 style families with unique information added specifically with the beer lover in mind.” Cheers!!