Grand Rapids, Mich. – Founders Brewing Co. is happy to announce the fourth annual KBS Week, in honor of the release of KBS this year. The beer will be available starting March 13 in Michigan and April 1 across the remainder of the brewery’s distribution footprint, which includes 42 states. Visitors and residents of Grand Rapids will be able to enjoy it March 6-11 when it is tapped at various local establishments as well as the taproom release party.

KBS Week

KBS is an imperial stout brewed with massive amounts of coffee and chocolate and then aged in oak bourbon barrels in the caves beneath Grand Rapids. KBS is the second installment in the brewery’s Barrel-Aged Series, a lineup of 6 different barrel-aged beers released throughout the year. It is consistently ranked as one of the highest rated beers in the world, according to Ratebeer.

KBS Week began in response to the overwhelming notoriety KBS has developed over the years and a desire to share that with the West Michigan beer-loving community on a broader scale. This year will mark the 4th annual KBS Week and fifteen Founders-supporting bars and restaurants in the Grand Rapids area will each tap a keg of KBS during a designated timeslot between March 6 and 10. KBS Week will culminate with the Founders taproom release party, where KBS will be poured all day on Saturday, March 11.

“Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) is a quintessential representation of who Founders is as a company and the legacy we’ve established in the industry,” said Co-Founder and President Dave Engbers. “Fifteen years ago it debuted as an experiment with no agenda; a beer that no one asked for and, at first, no one wanted. The outcome was and is magical and we think it’s a perfect example of the innovation that is central to craft beer culture. We love the chance to celebrate the phenomenon of KBS each year and to share it with the West Michigan community first in gratitude for their support. ”

Bottles of KBS available for pickup in the Founders taproom will be released using a pre-ticketed reservation process via Ticketfly. Bottles can be reserved beginning on Saturday, February 18, at 11am EST, and they will be available for pickup March 7-12, 2017.

A handful of area hotels will be offering KBS week packages—including discounted room rates, limited edition gear in rooms and more—with information available on the Experience Grand Rapids website.

KBS will be available throughout Michigan on Monday, March 13 and throughout the rest of the Founders’ distribution footprint on April 1.

For full KBS Week details, head to

GRAND RAPIDS — Sunshine, a brisk breeze, good beer and the smell of grill smoke are the makings of the perfect winter festival. All of the above were present at Saturday’s second annual Founders Firkin Freezeout, which featured grilled kielbasa kebabs, ice sculpting and up to 42 available varieties of firkin-conditioned beer.

“It’s a celebration of real beer and another great excuse to enjoy the splendors of winter in Michigan,” said Dave Engbers, Vice President/Director of Marketing of Founders Brewing Co.

Attendees from around the region milled around the Founders outdoor beer garden, socializing and sipping uniquely flavored takes on favorite standards.

“[Having events] reinforces the beer culture, not only here in Grand Rapids, but really regionally,” said Engbers. “If we can use the energy that the craft beer category has right now, and we can bring people from all over the region into Grand Rapids and introduce them to our city, then that’s awesome.”

Jamie Dublin traveled to the festival with her boyfriend from East Lansing.

“My boyfriend and I love craft beers, and we’ve always been fans of Founders,” she said. “I love firkins. We’ve come [to Founders] a few times when they’ve had firkins on and they’re really cool.”

Dublin said she enjoyed the beers from firkins because they add a unique twist to some of her favorite beers. She said she favored the All Day IPA with Bloody Mary ingredients, but she was looking forward to the tapping of the Dirty Bastard with cinnamon, vanilla beans and maple syrup.

“Obviously we like the standard, but it’s really cool to switch it up,” Dublin said.

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For the most part, however, attendees of the Freezeout were locals and mug club members who are regulars at Founders. Grand Rapids citizen Mary Mitus came to the festival with her family.

“We live in Grand Rapids, and we’re members of the mug club,” said Mitus. “Our daughter’s visiting from Brooklyn, and she loves Founders too. It’s just something to do — be outside. It’s a beautiful day.”

At a balmy 36 degrees and sunny, this year’s festival was much warmer than last year’s. The weather isn’t the only thing about the festival that has improved since last year.

“Last year being our first year, it was a learning process,” said John Merizon, Retail Beer Supply Coordinator for Founders.

This year, the team organizing the event decided to start an hour earlier and have more firkins on at a time in an effort to avoid heavily concentrated lines. The changes made for a more even distribution of attendees, making the environment in the beer garden much more relaxed.

Ultimately, the festival was an opportunity for brewers and Founders fans alike to try takes on their favorite beers that they won’t experience anywhere else.

“We really let our brewing team get experimental and work with different flavors and spices. We always have a few tricks up our sleeves,” said Engbers.

“We give our cellar team a lot of freedom in deciding what they want to experiment with. And that’s what our firkin program is. It’s just an outlet for us to experiment with flavor,” said Merizon.

“Some of the firkins have names taped on the sides of the barrels because there’s a little bit of an internal contest between the cellarmen to see whose is the most popular,” Merizon said. “There’s a smattering of cellarmen in the crowd kind of eyeballing to see whose is whose and what’s getting drank the most. They’re all asking me, ‘When’s mine going to get tapped?'”

For the second straight year, Founders has collaborated with ArtPrize to produce a beer specific to the world’s largest art event. The beer, Mosaic Promise, was highlighted during ArtPrize on Tap on Wednesday night at Founders.

The brew will be released in bottles at Meijer stores throughout Michigan on Sept. 14, and released elsewhere on Sept. 15. It will also be available on tap at Founders throughout the art competition.

The beer will be available throughout Michigan, but also in New York, Illinois and Wisconsin. It features a single type of hop — the Mosaic hop — and a single type of malt — Golden Promise.

ArtPrize on Tap is free for Art Club members, and will be held next on Sept. 17 and Oct. 15.

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GRAND RAPIDS — Class is in session. Everyone find a seat. Take out a pen. Please don’t drink any of the beer in front of you just yet.

This is no back-to-school dream. This is reality, thanks to the new Founders University courses, now enrolling for the fall.

Last Tuesday, Founders held its first “Sensory Perception” class — the graduate-level complement, if you will — to the Beer 101 course that also opened this August. A handful of paying students (and one lucky scholarshipped reporter) sniffed, swirled and tasted their way through a series of beer samples with the goal of refining palettes and broadening beer knowledge.

The classroom was Founders’ Centennial Room, the private area accessible only by elevator in the new addition.

The professor was the jovial John Gautraud, Founders’ Education Ambassador, joined on this occasion by Dave Engbers, bona fide Founders’ co-founder.

The “desks” for the evening were tables scattered around the upstairs bar, each holding two placemats, which themselves held eight specialized beer tasting glasses, each filled with two inches of identical golden ale. A water glass and a pint of Founders Solid Gold flanked the placemat, and a bowl of crusty bread (for palette cleansing) occupied the middle of each table.

Though Gautraud offered a few good-natured jokes as the class filtered in — “Don’t worry, this isn’t a prison diet” — it was clear this would be a fairly sober class. The pint glass was a “control” beer, meant for reference more than enjoyment. The samples were all tainted beer, each corrupted by a common “off flavor” produced by a common error in brewing or storage.

Over two and a half hours, the class gradually worked through the eight mistakes. Gautraud would give students a few minutes to smell and taste the profile of a sample, asking everyone to compare notes and compare against the control beer, and then would reveal the error, describe its flavors and explain its causes.

A bite of bread and a swig of water, and then on to the next sample. Sniff, sip, ponder. Eat, rinse, repeat. This was no wine-tasting waltz through the countryside.

The emphasis on what can go wrong with a beer, instead of what can go right, and the large chemical words — acetaldehyde, dimethyl sulfide, isovaleric acid — characterize the class as something homebrewers might appreciate best. When a basement batch tastes like movie theater popcorn, it might be helpful to know what causes it (diacetyl) and how to fix it (let the beer mature longer). For most consumers, however, sniffing for rancid butter before imbibing probably won’t add much to the beer experience.

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But both Gautraud and Engbers agreed the course isn’t just meant for homebrewers. Engbers said he hopes the class will engender a “better beer consumer,” one who can hold breweries, bars and restaurants accountable and thus help improve quality across the craft beer industry.

“As a consumer, it’s your choice to say, ‘This isn’t right,’” said Engbers — and if you can explain, say, that dirty tap lines corrupted your beer with acetic acid, you might be convincing.

The class “does have a great benefit for homebrewers,” added Gautraud, “but it’s not necessarily just for them.” Ideally, he said, the sensory perception course will help participants “enjoy [good] beer, enjoy the quality a bit more and have a bit more appreciation afterwards.”

This proved true at least in the immediate context of the class: the free pint of good beer offered at the end certainly was appreciated after all the bad.

And even if no one in the class graduated a beer genius, Gautraud was still generous with his grades. “It being the first one, I’ll probably be more lenient,” he joked. “I think everybody’s getting A’s so far.”