Like most rewarding things in life, KBS was born out of risk.
Back in 2001, few breweries were barrel-aging beers, and even fewer craft beer fans were aware of the process. So, when we tossed a batch of Breakfast Stout—our highly decorated, double-chocolate coffee oatmeal stout—into bourbon barrels for a full year, we didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into. The first batch was below our personal standards (and that’s putting it nicely), so we went back to the drawing board. After imperializing the base beer and tossing it back into barrels, it transformed into a bold, decadent, and velvety stout with powerful notes of vanilla, cocoa, and charred oak—we were in love at first sip.
We launched KBS from our original Grand Rapids taproom back in 2003, and over time it developed quite the cult following. Hundreds of people lined the sidewalks of our brewery on release day in hopes of snagging a case. As our brewery grew, so did the demand for KBS, and our ticketed-release approach to selling this craft beer “unicorn” eventually became untenable. As a result, our barrel program expanded to one of the largest in the nation, and KBS became a year-round sensation.
This barrel-aged behemoth soon became synonymous with Founders, and we saw a great opportunity to turn its popularity into a line of unique yet equally delicious varietals. February 2020 saw the release of the first KBS variant, KBS Espresso—followed by KBS Maple Mackinac Fudge later in the year. The third KBS varietal, KBS Cinnamon Vanilla Cocoa, is set for a nationwide release this October.
Born out of curiosity, risk, and—let’s face it—a little luck, KBS has become one of the premiere barrel-aged stouts in the world. Brewed and barrel-aged throughout the year, it’s the perfect beer to unwind with after a long day, and it’s an ideal nightcap or warmer for those crisp, cool autumn nights. KBS emanates sophistication, style, and class while remaining accessible for the craft-beer curious. Best of all? Now that it’s offered year-round, you’ll never have to worry about running out ever again.