is an award winning
member of the North
American Guild of Beer
Writers. His column
Adventures in Beerland
is now a regular feature of
William Shakespeare doesn’t write for BeerNexus though I’m sure he would if he were around since the Bard of Avon
was known to quaff a flagon of hearty ale on more than a few occasions. If,by some strange StarTrek time warp
achieved by slingshoting around the sun he walked in the office door today the first thing I would do is ask for an
autograph. No, not because he’s my literary idol but because only 6 of his signatures exist. It obviously is one of the
rarest of all autographs and is valued somewhere around $4 million dollars.
If Willy couldn’t make it perhaps that warp could deliver a 1933 American Double Eagle coin. Supposedly there are
only three in existence. Back in 2002 the only one left in private hands (or so everybody thought) sold for $7.9
million dollars. If the coin couldn’t make it my next choice would be a rare wine. October 2018 saw the sale of two
bottles of 1945 Romanee-Conti, with one bottle selling for $558,000 and the other for $496,000. This vintage was
already a rare wine, with just 600 bottlings made at the time.
Sadly, none of those will ever come into my purview and most likely not anyone reading this. However they are not
as impressive as it seems simply because multiples of them do exist. When it comes to most rare, singular is the
operative word. So, what if you could experience the last known one of something that exists in the world? What if it
was a beer? I did just that at the Gaslight Brewery & Restaurant.
The Gaslight was going to feature a Founders triple play – a 2019 keg of Breakfast Stout, a 2013 Breakfast Stout,
and a 2018 Curmudgeon's Better Half. While that’s quite a nice group it doesn’t call for any ballyhoo since it’s what
you’d expect from a serious beer pub. Then, proprietors Dan and DJ Soboti decided to add one more Founders
beer to the mix. It was a keg they had cellared for over a decade. It was the 2010 Founders Kentucky Breakfast
Stout. According to Dan it was the last keg of 2010 KBS in existence. A bit hyperbolic you say? I thought so too until
I contacted the distributor who was astounded anyone had it. As far as he knew there were no other ones. However
considering it was a distributor, another source was needed.
As luck would have it our beer club was having a meeting that Sunday featuring, direct from the brewery in Michigan,
the Founders Northeast Representative. “Just call me Don …” he said as the meeting started. Before he could finish
I immediately raised my hand. A bit startled he said “no need to raise your hand you can go to the restroom
whenever you want.” The restroom could wait. I had to know. Did the Gaslight really have the last keg of 2010 KBS
in the known universe?
I was sure if anyone knew for sure it would be someone from the brewery itself. Maybe in their aging caves Founders
kept a keg of everything they ever made. Maybe the company’s Vice-President of Aging, Dorian Gray, had a secret
vault of old kegs to be opened the day before Armageddon. As a hundred more maybes crossed my mind Don
dismissed them all saying” we’re in business to sell beer not store it”. Then he paused deep in thought. “But let me
make sure, after all this could be something truly historic.” With that he immediately called the brewery. After a few
mumbled (I made out things like “yes”, “really” “they do”) he put his phone down. He had the definitive answer.
“It is the official position of the Founders Brewery that to our knowledge The Gaslight will be pouring the last keg of
2010 in the world!” Shakespeare’s signature, the Double Eagle, and Romanee-Conti were the stuff of fantasy and
dreams. This was real and we were going to be drinking it.
Don gave the club an entertaining and informative presentation. He brought a selection of current Founders beers
and a two year old Canadian Breakfast Stout for us to sample and discuss. It was all well and good but all I could
think of was that history was coming and I was going to be part of it.
Quietly Dan Soboti sent for a pitcher of each of the Founders beers that had just been put on tap. It was time for the
grand finale of the meeting – the tasting the Founders drafts. Up first was the 2013 Breakfast Stout, next came the
2018 Curmudgeon's Better Half, then the 2019 KBS. All were thoroughly enjoyed but I was getting restless. Would
THE pitcher be coming? And then it appeared. I was going to be the first to taste the last keg in the world.
You don’t need a fine tuned palate to appreciate any vintage of KBS. It’s a great beer. It’s luscious and luxurious. It
hits the palate with a massive amount of coffee and chocolate and oak and bourbon. When the last glass was
handed out the meeting came to a close. Some members choose to chat with Don, some simply left, and some sat
staring at the empty pitchers. Not me. Being a person of action (and great thirst) I rushed to the bar. A small taste at
the meeting is one thing but when it comes to KBS more is better.
You could order any of the Founders beers in one of three sizes, 5 oz. 8 oz and 12 oz. I really didn’t care about
drinking the two Breakfast Stouts and the Curmudgeon in any size. No, it was time for a final duel between the 2019
and the 2010 KBS beers. It was one thing to taste a small pour of both at the meeting but for a serious showdown a
serious size was needed. I ordered a 12 oz. pour of each. .
First I took a sip of one then the other; then a sip of the other and then the one. If Solomon was doing the tasting
maybe he would simply blend them together and call them both winners. Fortunately he wasn’t there. The 2019 was
very good but to me the contest wasn’t close. The 2010 was superior. It was mellower, smoother, more nuanced. I
ordered another glass of it to verify my opinion. Then I had a third to verify my verification. Hey there’s no such thing
as being too sure. It was at that point my abiding love of history and an deep concern for preserving endangered
things kicked in. For a second I worried that with each sip I was helping to make this great beer truly extinct. It was a
All of the Founders beers were dutifully listed on the Gaslight’s menu along with their other outstanding house made
beer. The Founders however were the only ones listed with the brewing date. I went to the Gaslight for the next 11
consecutive days. To make things easier and to sound incredibly cool, at least in my own mind, I got into the habit of
ordering by year. “Think I’ll have a 5 oz of the 13, an 8 of the 19, and a 12 of the 10”. Two tipsy guys at the end of
the bar yelled bingo. I laughed not because I suffer fools gladly, but because they were drinking Miller Lite.
Unfortunately I did get the numbers confused once or twice and had to drink a 7 & 7, French 75, a 90 minute IPA,
and a vodka martini because I was too embarrassed to admit my mistake. Ah, okay, I actually ordered the martini.
Shockingly the keg of KBS 2010 didn’t kick for over three weeks. I can only think that far too many people (I’m not
going to say they must be millennials) probably thought the bar was trying to get rid of some old stuff. It was either
that or they were all committed IPA drinkers who on principle won’t drink a beer older than 2 months. That’s a little
silly. I won’t drink an IPA older than a month.
My only other thought was that people were concerned about the calories in KBS. I,or rather my bulging waistline,
can appreciate that concern. Alcohol contains about 7 calories per gram. Those calories can add up . Consider that
a 12 oz. glass of a typical 5% ABV macro lager has about 150 calories. However when it comes to good craft beer
150 calories is not the general case. For example a 12-ounce glass of 9.6 % ABV Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine,
has roughly 300 calories, Dogfish Head's 120-Minute IPA with its 19% ABV has more than 500 calories a glass, and a
typical Imperial IPA around 300 calories. It’s the attack of the calorie behemoths. As for KBS, well, it boasts of 336
calories in a 12 oz. glass with 20 grams of carbs. Ouch.
To put that in perspective to work off the number of calories in one KBs you would have to run for 40 minutes or ride
a bicycle for an 57 minutes or lift a shaker pint filled with Bud for 7 hours and 3 minutes. You would have to add 9
minutes and 15 seconds if it was filled with Bud Light since it’s, well, lighter.
If the calorie burden is so big why didn’t I balk at drinking multiple glasses of KBS? The answer is simple. Like the
amount the bar charges, the calories are part of the price you pay for a drinking a world class beverage. It’s
unfortunate but I see a correlation between taste and a beer’s ABV; the higher the ABV the more flavor and the more
calories; the lower the ABV the less flavor. If you don’t believe me compare a glass of zero calorie water with a
Michelob Ultra, Budweiser Select 55, or Miller 64. The similarity is striking.
All good things come to an end and the keg of 2010 KBS finally kicked. It was only appropriate that I, its biggest fan,
was there to see it. Not only did I see it, I was the one who had the last glass from the last keg in the world.
I think that’s the definition of bittersweet.
click to contact vince