Lizard of Koz (Founders Brewing Company)

Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout brewed with Blueberries, Chocolate, and Vanilla

10.5% ABV

From: Grand Rapids, MI

Brewery’s Note; “This one is near and dear to our hearts. Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki wanted to make the birthday of his little sister, Liz, a special one. So he did what he does best and brewed a stout using a few of her favorite ingredients: fresh Michigan blueberries, rich chocolate, and vanilla aged in bourbon barrels to round out those beautiful flavors. Liz was floored and we think you will be too.”

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The Lizard pours out a deep, dark chocolate color. It pours out a rich, cappuccino and toffee head of airier bubbles. As the head fades, a drizzly, spotty lacing leaves an archipelago of bubbles across the glass, and when you splash the beer against the glass, thick sheets of distortion run syrupy curtains up the sides. The beer is opaque in body, and definitely hefty, yet thinner than I would expect from this decadent adjunct stout. On the nose, the beer smells of rich chocolate stout laced with a tart, dark berry tang. Soft, caramelized brown bread soaked in sweet bourbon sits in the background and suggests KBS on the nose, while a smooth vanilla syrup moves around everything else. It’s sweet, and offers everything the bottle promised, though I wish the barrel was a little more integrated into the nose. As it warms, the floral sweet nature of the berries starts to come out more. It sort of smells like a Dunkin Donut’s coffee with a lot of blueberry syrup added in. It’s nice, sweet, and opulent, if not a little excessive. On the tongue, the beer’s tastes is sticky, blueberry-syrup sweet. There is a rounded berry acidity that still manages to be slightly sour while pulling the berry sweetness ever forward on the tongue. Let there be no doubt, this is a ‘beatus beer. In small amounts, it’s a decadent berry-syrup sip with chocolate stout nuance and a slight vanilla close and finish. Bitter barrel and booze are complete after-thoughts, with the bitter barrel showing weakly on the finish, and the booze hiding beneath the cloying waves of berry opulence. The sweetness lingers on the tongue in thick, noxious waves that really slow down the drink, and make it hard. In the mouth, the beer is fat and flabby, with a middling syrupiness that manages to cling in sticky waves on the finish, leaving the mouth sweet and cloying with a light sticky spittle wetting everything on the tongue. Overall: beatus, cloying, unbalanced, no nuance, none of the balanced deliciousness of Founder’s other stouts. Founders does good stouts. They’re big, they sold out, yadda yadda, they’re always solid and delicious, but this is a miss from the Backstage Series. Too sweet, too muddled, too much without remembering the beer underneath.

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[Side Note: The beer does make a wonderful ingredient for dessert breads, though, and is definitely a delicious addition to baking.]

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