KBS vs Sunday Morning Stout
In what is to be the first of many "Versus" segments, I pit two heavyweights of the Bourbon Barrel Aged Division against each other. It is in fact this discussion in the last few months which led me to wanting to do this. Founder's KBS versus Weyerbacher's Sunday Morning Stout has been the comparison done within our area of New Jersey for the past few years. Both are available throughout the state and I believe this was the first year in which I didn't have to go around chasing leads to find them.
What some consider the undisputed heavyweight champion for a few years, Founder's "highly acclaimed" Kentucky Bourbon Stout is brewed with chocolate and coffee and aged in oak bourbon barrels. I've had this for the last 4 - 5 years, I believe and every year, the batches seem just a bit different from the last one. This year's seemed to be a bit heavier on the chocolate and not so much on the coffee, which is fine. I don't lean either way as far as the taste is concerned. The nose on this beer is definite bourbon and chocolate and the taste leans towards bourbon with some bitterness from the coffee. All in all, it is a great beer, but with other breweries making "similar", it has its work cut out for it in future years. Still, I don't want to underestimate the importance of this beer and what it means within the craft beer world. With that said, I found 2017 to be a bit underwhelming compared to 2016.
Weyerbacher's Sunday Morning Stout. I've visited their brewery in the past and am a fan of their darker offerings. I'm no stranger to Sunday Morning Stout, but this is the first year I was able to just walk into a liquor store and walk out with a 4-pack. Priced at around $16 - $18, you're getting about a $4.5 value per bottle which is outstanding. The first difference between this and KBS is it seems to be heavier on the coffee aspect. Upon opening the bottle, huge notes of bourbon and coffee. Thin lacing, color is perfect. Halfway through this, I realized why some people have an issue comparing SMS vs KBS, as they are both similar and yet so very different at the same time. I do have to say, this most reason offering of SMS has been my favorite so far.
KBS seems to be heavier on the chocolate while SMS relies more on the coffee. The bourbon flavor is a bit more overwhelming with the KBS than it was with the SMS, and this is coming from a huge fan of "oaky" bourbon. I still have to say, KBS is rather good and is still considered to be the very top tier of its class, but SMS is proving that there are others not far behind willing to come fight for the throne.
Founder's KBS: 4.5 / 5
Weyerbacher's SMS: 4.75 / 5
To clarify, three things made me more inclined towards SMS than KBS. The first thing was the heavy reliance of SMS' coffee presence and how it worked with the barrel aging. The second factor is KBS tasted a bit thin to me this year, still better than most barrel aged beers in the past year I've had, but a bit lacking versus their own previous version. The third shouldn't count, but to me, it does - pricing. SMS was widely available and with a pricing that should help those trying to get a BBA stout on the lower end of the spectrum, I choose SMS over KBS. Salud!