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On December 1, 2017, Founders Brewing Co. quenched the long-endured thirst of beer nerds internationally with the rerelease of CBS, otherwise known as Canadian Breakfast Stout. Originally released in 2011 on draft and in 22oz bottles, in 2014 in limited quantity as draft-only across the U.S., and quietly at random in their Grand Rapids taproom if you were in line at the right place at the right time, CBS’s reputation and allure have preceded it for years—and for good reason. I mean c’mon, its base beer is KBS, transformed and sweetened by being aged in bourbon barrels that also previously nestled maple syrup.  

In what has been a rather impressive display celebrating their 20 years with zero regrets, CBS was Founders’ climax to the six beers they released this year as part of their newly branded Barrel-Aged Series. They teased the rumors that had already been subtly circulating for months that this elusive 11.7% stout was making an official return. Founders activated a creative way to connect to the masses via a respectably labor intensive social media campaign, unveiled first only to members of the Cadre.

founders cbs

Founders’ philosophy : “We don’t brew beer for the masses. Our beers are crafted for a chosen few, a small cadre of renegades and rebels…”

Francesca Jasinski, Founders’ Communications Manager, says, “We decided to form the Cadre as a way to reward our biggest fans with exclusive content, early access to news, opportunities to attend events and more.” While their Mug Club serves the local fan base, the Cadre, Jasinski explains, “is meant to serve our fans who are all around the country (and world). We recognize that many of them do not have the benefit of visiting the Taproom frequently enough to justify our Mug Club membership.

founders cbs

In an email sent to the 5,800 Cadre members on October 21, Founders told them, “Keep an eye on your mailbox – 1,000 of you will be receiving a package that contains a clue to what our sixth and final Barrel-Aged Series beer of 2017 is. Because you are our most loyal followers, we thought it would be fun to get you involved in the announcement process.” Founders snail-mailed out sets of mini flags—one Founders, one Canadian, and asked Cadre members to post photos of both flags to Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #FoundersBarrelAgedSeries. And finally, the rumors were true. Or, at least we could assume.

Since the launch of the teaser campaign, the Cadre grew to over 7,900 strong. Founders invited us to attend the CBS release party at their taproom on December 1, where we got to meet a few of them who were either in line early to get one of the first draft pours of CBS 2017 or to claim their allocation of two 750ml bottles per person of this 100-point bucket list beer of capped goodness.

 

Doug McDowall, 65, Brampton, Ontario, Canada, @dougzone

MittenBrew: I’d be surprised if you got up this morning in order to make the drive from Canada to be the first guests in line for the Taproom.

McDowall: It’s not a bad drive, five hours. We got in last night, and got a hotel in town. And once Founders pulled everyone from this line—those who got here way early so they could join their Mug Club—we were the lucky Canadians left at the front of the line.

Did you make the drive solely for the chance to have CBS on draft, or were you one of the lucky ones to who secured bottles in advance online?

Both. But, we’re going to try it first on draft to make sure it’s any good. [McDowall laughs.]

founders cbs

What are your plans for the bottles?

They’re going back to Canada. I’ll share one with my sons and grandsons and their wives during Christmas. The other will be cellared until, hopefully, Founders releases it again.

Why did you join the Cadre?

I think I remember hearing about it before KBS was released in 2016, and wanted to make sure I got the early news about future bottle releases first. After Founders announced the Barrel-Aged Series, I was anticipating that they’d hopefully announce CBS as the final installment.

Have you ever had CBS before?

[Laughing…] I’ve been to Founders four times—today, plus three previous trips for the annual KBS release party. When I was here in ‘16, you happened to interview me while you were filming Modern Ahabs, and were kind enough to tip me off that I should probably get in line immediately because Founders might be getting ready to tap a “certain rare Canadian” beer. So yeah, I’ve had it once before today, thanks to you. [McDowall smiles.]

Wow. I remember you, Doug. That’s awesome.

By chance, are you a Founders Mug Club member?

No, but that’s only due to proximity. However,  getting the Cadre’s emails gives me the opportunity to decide whether or not I should make the trip. And, when it’s something like CBS, it’s worth the trip.

When are you heading home?

Right after lunch and a couple pours of CBS. We have to be back tonight for a concert in Windsor.

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Being a Cadre member from Canada, Founders surely sent you the two flags as part of their social media campaign, right?

Sadly, no, but I would’ve been proud to receive and display them appropriately.

Before we interviewed Doug, who was proudly donning a red hockey sweater with a prominent white maple leaf, he was making friends with others in line by giving out little Canadian flag pins. Once we wrapped this assignment and before we left Founders for the day, we swung by his table in the Taproom to say goodbye. Steph Harding, MittenBrew owner/publisher and photog badass, casually gifted her two Cadre flags to Doug. It was a spontaneous gesture for a really good guy. Standing adjacent to both of them, I watched Doug’s eyes nearly tear up in sincere appreciation, and give Steph one of the warmest hugs I’ve ever seen. Then he made good on his word, and displayed both flags with honor in the middle of his table.

 

Mike Walton, 35, Grand Rapids, MI, @mwalton82

MittenBrew: You responded to Founders’ outreach to the Cadre, asking if members who received the flags would be hip to telling us about their experience. Why’d you join?

Walton: I was tipped off either by something Founders or a friend posted on Facebook. I wanted to be the first to know what’s going on—when beers are coming out, what unique events they’re hosting, what’s happening in the Taproom that I might otherwise miss as a casual guest.

founders cbsWhat’d you do with the flags after you posted a photo to social media?

I actually displayed them at home during Thanksgiving. And, some of the Likes I got on the photo on Instagram were from people I didn’t know, which I thought was cool.

How else have you taken advantage of what Founders offers to the Cadre?

I love the recipes they share. I’ve made their beer cheese, their Dirty Bastard turkey recipe. I love learning how to use their beer creatively with food. There’s a lot of educational value that the Cadre provides.

Has your name been picked for access to other special events or promotions for the Cadre?

I’ve definitely applied, but haven’t had my name drawn for anything else yet, but that’s cool. I get it—Founders is in demand. Everything they do is good stuff.

You got your two bottle of CBS. What are you going to do with them?

Share one with friends who might not be able to get any, and store the other for something special. I’m not stopping at two though. I’ll keep my eyes peeled around town for a few more.

Have you had CBS before?

Fortunately, yes, a few times. I’ve been in GR for almost 20 years, so when you’re in the Taproom at the right place at the right time and you see them slap the sign up on the draft list chalkboard, you don’t hesitate. You just order it. It’s a no-brainer.

founders cbs

Are you also a Mug Club member?

Not currently, but I’ll be here in line early next year to sign up.

Update: Mike stopped us later that morning to tell us that he did, in fact, end up snagging a spot in Founders’ Mug Club for 2018. But, we’re not supposed to tell his wife, so “Shh!”

 

Jacob Zars, 31, Grand Rapids, MI, @jacobzars

MittenBrew: You’re drinking out of an Founders Mug Club mug. This must not be your first rodeo.

Zars: No, sir. I’ve already renewed for the fourth year in a row. This mug is dedicated to my oldest son, and I’ll get my next mug etched in honor of my second son. My plan is to bring both boys to Founders for their first beer when they each turn 21 so they can immediately drink out of their own personalized mug which I will have had for nearly their entire lives.

And you’re a member of the Cadre?

Absolutely. I wanted to get those inside tips directly from the source instead of waiting for the rest of the world to hear it before me.

founders cbs

You got the flags, too?

I did, but… Before I got a chance to take a proper photo of them and post it to social media, my son got ahold of them, and… well, the rest is history.

How else have you engaged with Founders as a member of the Cadre?

I love having access to some of their invite-only experiences. I just went to their recent beer and cheese pairing, which was awesome. I love going to anything in the Centennial Room [Founders’ private event space on the second floor of the Taproom]. I even had my college graduation party and the rehearsal dinner for my wedding there. It’s just a great thing to be a part of—getting a chance at something that sometimes might not happen anywhere else.

What’s been your experience with CBS before today?

I’ve been really fortunate to have it a number of times. Of course, I was first attracted to it because… well… KBS. It’s just a natural progression.

What are your plans with your bottles?

Sharing them with friends and family. I’m also going to make the rounds to some of my favorite bottle shops around the city to pick up bottles for friends, including some guys I know in Canada who are already scouting 12oz bottles for me.

Any parting words for what sounds like a brewery you hold in high regard?

Founders has been near and dear to my heart for years. When you visit, it’s just the coolest place to gather with your family and friends, and you’re always surrounded by the friendliest faces.

 

Anthony Reed, 33, Grand Rapids, MI,

MittenBrew: You seem pretty excited to have just joined Founders’ Mug Club.

Reed: I’ve been trying to sign up for years, but kept missing my opportunity because of weddings out of town and other stuff that just comes up. But today’s been great! I got my first coveted spot in the Club, got to try the new batch of CBS on draft, and picked up a few bottles.

As Ice Cube would say…

Looks like you snagged four bottles of CBS. Where are they going?

Both my wife and I got tickets just in case I couldn’t track down any bottles elsewhere. I’ve also got a couple other bottles at the ready from some of my local stores that I keep a solid relationship with. And, I’ve already got plans to crack open at least one bottle at a Christmas party beer exchange next week. I’ll save one for my brother-in-law who’s always on the move with the Air Force, and the rest are going in the cellar for some sweet days to come.

founders cbs

Have you had CBS before today?

A few times. Easily one of my top five favorite beers. The first time was a few years ago at Founders’ Black Party. It absolutely blew my mind. I was hooked.

Why’d you join the Cadre?

CBS. [Laughing]

We’re not exactly sure just how much CBS was brewed, kegged, and packaged this year (a lot more, it seems, than in years past, likely thanks to their recent barrelhouse expansion), but we’re okay with there still being some mystique surrounding how hard we’ll have to hustle to get our lips on some (more).

 

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 kbsweek.com.

Founders announced their 2017 availability calendar today, confirming several momentous changes to the brewery’s lineup. The year ahead also holds significant importance as the brewery’s 20th anniversary year.

Beginning in 2017, Founders will launch a brand new series that celebrates their highly regarded barrel-aging program, which is responsible for popular beers like KBS and Backwoods Bastard. Throughout the year, they will be releasing six different barred-aged beers, including KBS in April 2017 and Backwoods Bastard in November 2017.

Details about three of the additional beers in the series will come later in the year, but today the brewery announced the first release, Frootwood.

founders

Frootwood is a cherry ale aged in oak barrels that have previously held both bourbon and maple syrup. Frootwood will be available in some states as early as January, with remaining states seeing it by February. Founders plans to release it in the taproom on January 25, 2017 and it will have a suggested retail price of $14.99/4-pack and $11.99/750mL bottle. The entire Barrel-Aged Series lineup will be offered in both 750mL bottles and 4-packs of 12oz bottles.

foundersFounders will also release their entire seasonal lineup in 15-pack cans, in addition to 6-pack bottles, beginning with Azacca IPA in January 2017, though some regions may see it even sooner. Azacca IPA will be available January – March; PC Pils will be available April – August; Mosaic Promise will be available September – December.

foundersAll Day IPA will also be offered in a new package, a 19.2oz single-serve can, beginning in early 2017. All Day IPA has seen tremendous growth since it was first packaged back in 2012 and that momentum informed the brewery’s decision to begin canning it in 2013. Founders has since been the first in craft to release the 15-pack of cans with All Day IPA and looks to expand upon its success with the 19.2oz single-serve can format, which customers can expect to find at venues like convenience stores, ballparks and arenas.

“We are amazed at what 2017 looks like for the brewery,” says Co-Founder and President Dave Engbers. “Mike and I see the launch of the Barrel-Aged Series and the continued growth of All Day IPA as the culmination of years of hard work and sticking to our guns. We can’t think of a better way to kick-off our 20th anniversary.”

The 2017 calendar also reflects the departure of Pale Ale and Devil Dancer. Pale Ale Nitro will still be available on draft across the brewery’s distribution footprint.

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kbs weekFounders Brewing Co. is happy to announce the third annual KBS Week, in honor of the release of Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) this year. The beer will be available starting March 14 in Michigan and April 1 across the remainder of the brewery’s distribution footprint, but visitors and residents of Grand Rapids will be able to enjoy it March 7- March 12.

KBS is an imperial stout brewed with massive amounts of coffee and chocolate and then aged in oak bourbon barrels for a year in the caves beneath Grand Rapids. 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 3rd annual KBS Week and fifteen Founders-supporting bars and restaurants in the Grand Rapids area will each tap a keg of KBS on a day and time of their choosing between March 7 and 11. KBS Week will culminate with the Founders taproom release party, where KBS will be poured all day on Saturday, March 12.

“Mike and I look forward to this week every year,” said co-Founder and President Dave Engbers, “It is fantastic working with our wholesalers and retail partners to create a community-centric week centered around the release of KBS. We are so grateful to our West Michigan community for the support throughout the years and it makes sharing KBS with all of them that much more special.”

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 14 and throughout the rest of the Founders’ distribution footprint on April 1.

 

For full KBS Week details, head to kbsweek.com

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.

GRAND RAPIDS — Founders Brewing Company hosted visitors from near and far for a free event to celebrate the in-house draft release of the 2015 batch of its beloved KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) on Saturday.

Fans waited patiently in line up to an hour for their turn to enter the tap room and order a snifter or two.

Katie Hoadley flew in from Chapel Hill, N.C. almost exclusively to experience KBS on tap for the first time. Having previously enjoyed it from a bottle during a share with friends, she was excited to finally have a draft pour. She admits there was some work to be done in the area for her job, but she chose to stay in Grand Rapids for the weekend to enjoy the festivities. This was her first visit to the Founders taproom.

“It’s fantastic! I’ve had amazing food, I’ve had good beer, I’m watching amazing basketball (on the monitor behind the bar). You can’t go wrong with today!” Hoadley said.

She took the opportunity to taste several of the available beers, but still declares KBS as her favorite.

Kermie Wisner, a distant relative of Kermit the Frog, was in attendance as part of his mission to prove it actually IS easy being green. According to him, it is “awesome being green” when you have a handler who appreciates good beer and takes you to fun places.

Kermie visited with handler Amy Wisner and friends for a glass of KBS on draft. He started his craft beer journey in January and has already been to quite a few places in Colorado, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Kansas City and all over Michigan.

“He drinks a lot, don’t judge,” says Amy. “KBS is his favorite beer, so he’s very excited that he was able to be here today.”

All joking aside, apart from the KBS draft release at the taproom, the beer was coveted in bottle form as well.

Tickets that granted the opportunity to purchase up to 12 bottles of the popular beer sold out in a matter of minutes when they went on sale in February. For several days leading up to the main event, a special satellite store space was open to those lucky ticket holders. The walls inside it were decorated with posters signed by people who came to pick up their haul, some from as far away as Korea. They were among the first to get their hands on this year’s batch.

A few area venues were allowed advance kegs to serve during the areawide KBS Week that culminated in Saturday’s party at the source. Bottles will begin arriving in stores across the distribution footprint this week.

GRAND RAPIDS — Founders Brewing Co. was the hottest spot in Grand Rapids this past Saturday, as the brewery rounded out a week-long, city-wide party of the highly-acclaimed KBS.

From March 18-22, Grand Rapids played host to nearly 20 KBS tapping events across the city and at selected retailers throughout the area.

On Saturday, patrons lined up outside in the cold and waited patiently for entry into the Founders taproom, awaiting a taste of the sought-after KBS.

Inside the taproom, people buried their noses in snifters and inhaled deeply. They sipped slowly and their thirst for KBS, which had been building for over a year, was satisfied. 

“This entire week has been crazy. It has been jam packed,” said Mike Stevens, Co-Founder and CEO of Founders Brewing Co. “The cool part about it is, we turned it into this whole week-long celebration. It has been a city-wide celebration.”

Turning the KBS release into a multi-day event helped make it about more than just the beer, Stevens said.

“We love the feel and the vibe of it this year,” he said. “KBS this year wasn’t just about Founders, It was about Grand Rapids. It was about BeerCity USA.”

Emphasis was also put on getting the beer out to retail partners and having them get first-hand experience with KBS tappings.

“Virtually every single promo we’ve been to, there were lines out the door,” Stevens said. “It was really cool to watch retailers’ reactions to the events. They really got to see first-hand the impact that this beer has made on people. They were blowing through kegs anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes.”

In addition to the beer happenings across town, KBS bottle releases were held for those who were lucky enough to purchase tickets in advance online. Each day, 600 ticket holders were allowed to pick up their beer.

“All of the proceeds of the ticket costs all went to charity,” Stevens said. “We were able to get $12,000 to the river restoration project here in Grand Rapids.”

According to Stevens, he estimated the events throughout the week brought between 6,000 to 8,000 people to the city. But he still feels more can be done in future years.

“We put it out to Grand Rapids and the public and retail customers. And we want to see more of that,” Stevens said. “We brought in six to 8,000, but let’s bring in 30,000. I think it’s doable.

“It can really truly be a week-long celebration of beer in Grand Rapids. It would be a drinking man’s Disneyland.”

GRAND RAPIDS — Founders Brewing Co. is happy to announce that they’re doing something a bit different for their release of Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) this year. The beer will be available starting April 1 across the brewery’s distribution footprint, but visitors to and residents of Grand Rapids will be able to enjoy it March 18-22.

KBS is an imperial stout brewed with coffee and chocolates that ages in oak bourbon barrels for a year in the caves beneath Grand Rapids.

Bottles of KBS available for pickup in the Founders taproom will be released using a pre-ticketed reservation process on EventBrite. Bottles can be reserved beginning on March 1 at 11 a.m., and they will be available for pickup March 18-22. Ticket proceeds will go toward Grand Rapids Whitewater. 

What’s new this year is Founders has decided to open up the release so that people coming to Grand Rapids for KBS can enjoy all of BeerCity USA. Fifteen Founders-supporting craft-beer-centric bars and restaurants in the Grand Rapids area are each tapping a keg of KBS on a day and time of their choosing between March 18 and 21.

KBS Week will culminate with the Founders taproom release party, where KBS will be poured all day on  March 22.

“We’re excited to turn the release of KBS into something that extends beyond the walls of Founders,” said Co-Founder and Vice President of Brand Dave Engbers. “KBS Week allows beer enthusiasts to celebrate the release of this beer with some of the retailers that make the West Michigan beer community so special.”

Ten 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.

Bottles of KBS will be available in the greater Grand Rapids area starting on March 25. 

For full KBS Week details, head to kbsweek.com.


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