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BEERFIGHT: Founders KBS versus Mala Vida Brandy-Aged Stout

Comparing a pair of five-star beer prospects.

These are two of the rarest, hardest-to-find beers out there. Founders KBS, or Kentucky Breakfast Stout, is the bourbon-barrel-aged version of their Breakfast Stout. That’s pretty awesome on its own, but the natural sweetness of the bourbon barrel pairs perfectly with the right coffee flavor. It’s a limited release that can be near impossible to find in stores — some places will raffle off chances to purchase it. Bars will get one keg at a time, usually for an entire year unless they have some outstanding connections.

The Bulldog in Baton Rouge did happen to have a keg a few weeks back, so I was able to try some of this year’s variation. While I was there, I tried another featured beer from overseas with a similar profile: the Mala Vida Brandy-aged stout, from Companyia Cervesera del Montseny, a brewery out of Spain. Likewise, not something you’re going to see too often.

They’re both rich, imperial stouts with an ABV over 11. So let’s compare notes:

Founders KBS (2017)

You really smell the bourbon on this one, and you get that sweet burn on the front end, balanced with those slightly bitter coffee and dark chocolate notes and a sweet finish. It’s filling — a pint or a snifter is perfect, but it’s practically dessert.

Mala Vida Brandy

This one is much more complex — the bouquet is almost licorice, but you get the roasted malts of a stout on the front end. But then you get a really interesting blend of flavors. Notes of vanilla, dark chocolate, with an earthy, nutmeg-like flavor, finished off with a boozy flourish that is sweet, but not overly so you might think with something aged in a brandy barrel.

Overall, the Spaniard takes this for general complexity and depth of flavor. There isn’t a bad choice here, but if you have the opportunity, pick up this Mala Vida brew.