Bringing a Group Hunt Home — KBS, King Henry, and more

Beer geeks talk. And beer geeks share. Every once in awhile, you realize that you and a few close friends end up with a serious score all at the same time — and a home tasting is almost mandatory. 

This month, my friend Kunal got ahold of a couple bottles of Founder’s Kentucky Bourbon Stout. No, he didn’t sleep in a tent overnight in Grand Rapids to get it — he’s a patient hunter. He just kept checking the traps at his local six-packs in River North, Chicago until one of them was full. 

And Doug, the master of the beer cellar I visit from time to time, and who pulled together the lion’s share of the Abyss 5-year vertical we put on last December, got ahold of a Goose Island King Henry he was dying to open.

Speaking of Abyss — I contributed a 2011 from my recent visit to Deschutes Brewpub in Portland, OR. And to break it up, we sourced a Three Floyds Zombie Dust (now in wide circulation) and a Hair of the Dog Blue Dot also from my Portland hunt. 

Kentucky Breakfast Stout — A strong stout with vanilla and coffee flavors that mellow out beautifully as it warms, making it perfect for a small pour. Solid bourbon notes come through, but don’t make it boozy. Flavors are clear and bright — this beer has an incredible constitution.  

Abyss — This stout is always amazing. When it’s relatively ”fresh” the cocoa nib, fruit and vanilla come through. This beer is aged in both oak and bourbon barrels, then mixed before bottling. The result is a particularly nuanced barrel profile with bourbon and charred oak flavors. The older it gets, the boozier it gets and the dark fruit flavors become more pronounced. For now, it’s more honest, less mysterious.

King Henry — The newest of these big beers, King Henry is a barleywine aged in barrels previously used to age Bourbon County Rare Stout (23-year-old Pappy Van Winkel barrels). Some great raisin, vanilla and almost coconut flavors in this one, but with that signature barleywine brightness and some light brown sugar. It was more subtle and surprising than any barleywine I’ve had to date.

Blue Dot — Hair of the Dog’s Imperial IPA. An incredible hop profile — all big and bitter, but mellow with organic pilsner and rye malts that provide a great balance. This does a great job of stripping your palate and opening you up to every note that passes. Beautiful lemon meringue color.

Zombie Dust — Go get some. The Chicago area is covered with this new Pale Ale from Three Floyds right now. Dark gold color, sharp bitterness and a sweet, refreshing finish. Dare I say sessionable?

Michael Kiser