GRAND RAPIDS — Guests of the 14th Annual Black Party enjoyed the best of Founders’ usual black beers, plus a few new surprise brews.

One of the big stars of the tap list this year was Lizard of Koz, an 11.1% ABV stout brewed with chocolate, vanilla and blueberries, then aged in oak bourbon barrels. Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki co-created the non-barrel aged base beer as a birthday present for his sister, along with her husband who also works at Founders.

They were planning to surprise her with it, but the blueberry flavors were still coming through too tart when her birthday came along in December.

“I offered up the great solution of ‘throw it in a bourbon barrel, wait a couple months’ because that always works. So we did that and we were late for her birthday but the beer was much better for it. A good time to bring it out was for the Black Party here and everybody appreciated it,” Kosmicki said.

Kim Leshinski, beer blogger for Hail To The Ale, and her boyfriend Ken Getty stumbled upon the Black Party serendipitously.

“We were coming up for the weekend just to get away. We downloaded the Founders app to see what was on tap and saw the Black Party event and realized this was our lucky day!” Leshinski said.

Her favorite beer of the event? “KBS, fresh; hands down better than any I’ve had in bottles.”

People were also excited about Rye Death, a 10.8% ABV ryewine brewed with a lot of rye, and midnight wheat malt for color.

“I wanted to make a black wheatwine, but we were really short on wheat malt that week so we ended up going with rye instead.” Kosmicki said.

Live music began early in the evening and continued into the night featuring several acts. Perhaps the most notable was the annual black set performed by Oracle, starring Kosmicki, his wife Jamie, and Brewing Materials Manager “Diamond” Deschaine. Songs with “black” in the title or by artists such as Black Sabbath rocked the enthusiastic crowd.

No official word on if or when the legendary beer Black Biscuit (released several years ago) could make a return to the tap list. Plenty of conversations mentioning it were overheard throughout the day. Speculation abounds each year, and maybe it will eventually reappear, but no information has been publicly released at this time.