Nick Carr on January 9, 2017 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery Founders Brewing Company Location Grand Rapids, MI Style Imperial Stout ABV 10.0% IBU 40 Hops ? Malts ? Other Ingredients Blue Berries, Vanilla, Chocolate Shelf Life A long time. Suggested Glass Snifter Serving Temp 50°F Availability Limited: December – Until It’s Gone Food Pairings Porterhouse steak, Triple cream brie, Blueberry cheesecake I have to say, Founders is one of my favorite breweries right now. Every one of their beers I’ve tried, I’ve loved. Give me a Dirty Bastard, Founder’s Porter or Rübæus, to say nothing of Devil Dancer, Breakfast Stout, Backwoods Bastard, or Curmudgeon, and I’m a happy man. So, when I get a chance to try something new, limited, and barrel-aged from them you can bet I’m all over it. So enters the Lizard of Koz, a 10.5% monster with blueberries, chocolate, and vanilla in its Imperial Stout belly. It was only the second beer from their Backstage Series released in 2016. The Backstage Series, started in 2011, is Founders ultra limited releases. It’s where the brewer’s can let loose and try things that seem extreme or just downright weird. If one of these experimental beer’s garner enough praise while on tap release, then it might get the chance at a wider audience through a limited 750mL bottle release. The other beer released in 2016 was Mango Magnifico, back in March, and it is only the second in the Backstage series to make an encore appearance… to give some idea of how much ground they cover in this series. Lizard of Koz was designed as a special birthday beer for Brewmaster, Jeremy Kosmicki’s little sister, Liz. It was first released as a tap-only special for Founder’s 2015 Black Party, a get-to-gather celebrating new dark experimental beers, some of which will never be distributed. Lizard of Koz was such a success at the party that the Founder’s crew decided to put it into wider distribution through the Backstage Series. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Founders Lizard of Koz. If you tasted this beer or you’re currently reading this review with a pint in hand, please share your thoughts, review or tasting notes with everyone in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: Pours like a dark starless night, opaque and mysterious. Even held up to good light you’ll see only the barest hint of amber edging around the boarder. Head rises in the thick and creamy way of stouts. Head color is a dark mocha, with just the slightest hint of purple. Maybe it’s just my imagination describing the color of blue berries. The head is long lasting. It drops slowly over several minutes, but never fades completely. Boy, the first thing that hits me in the aroma is huge rich chocolate from the dark malts. Underneath there’s a slight tobacco note. There are some sly whispers of vanilla and oak along with a backdrop of bourbon booziness. There’s a hint of dark fruit sweetness, but no real indication it’s blue berries interred within. Slight herbal notes flit here and there, signs of the hops. Mouthfeel and Taste: Body is full and pleasantly round, buoyed by the weight of alcohol and lots of malt. Mouthfeel is smooth as silk. Nicely warming. Flavors start with the same rich chocolate that carried the aroma; cocoa nibs, low roast. Following is sweet vanilla and oak, then a nice blueberry fruitiness mid-palate. It’s slightly sour toward the back with a medium-sweet finish. Aftertaste is a show of boozy vanilla bathed in light fruity sweetness. FINISHING THOUGHTS This is a sweet one. Many reviewers have said that it is too sweet, but I’m not sure I agree. Yes, it is way too sweet to drink a full 10 or 12 ounces, but this is an expensive beer (around $18 per bottle) and should be savored and enjoyed in small amounts, over several tastings, for what it is. Take down a tasting glass splash in 4 or 5 ounces and sip it slowly. The vanilla may overplay its hand slightly, but otherwise I think this is a well crafted sipper for the sweet-tooth. The low bourbon warmth help balance the vanilla, as does the chocolate. The blueberries are noticeable, but not overdone and the slight tart character they bring to the whole is different, but in a good way. This tartness, incidentally, is another thing some reviewers seemed to take issue with. A small glass of Lizard of Koz could easily take the place of a dessert after a meal, or go all out and pair it with your favorite dark sweet desserts. Yes, this may offer some things you’re not expecting; yes it is sweet, but come on, we don’t by beer like this to because we’re expecting the same old thing we always drink. Meet it on it’s on terms and you may be surprised how much you like it. Cheers!