13 July 2007

This ain't the the breakfast of champions

Last evening the Beer Geeks convened at Hot Shotz Ale & Grill, and were fortunate enough to get to sample Founders Kentucky Breakfast Bourbon Aged Stout. Our bartender Hans explained that the Breakfast Stout was a limited production beer, acquired on a road trip to the Founders Brewery - definitely a beer brought to Indy based on dedication to the craft, and right up our alley.

The KBBA Stout is 10% Alcohol by Volume (ABV), and ran $10 a bottle - a high enough price to scare me away from it if I were drinking without the rest of the geeks. But when we're doing a roundtable, we generally don't look at prices until afterwards.

The stout poured like cough syrup, and had the same dark color as motor oil. Despite having no head, it left a slight film on the glass when swirled. The nose gave off a smell of used coffee grounds, with a sweet sort of sting - no real "beer smell" at all, and a tiny hint of bourbon. Once in the mouth, the bourbon sting comes out a little bit more, but the overwhelming characteristic is the dark coffee taste - a taste that stays in your mouth long after you've swallowed your beer.

As the beer warmed up, the 10% ABV became more apparent - slowly at first. Given a minute or two more, the alcohol taste almost explosively jumped out to a level that was almost overwhelming. The coffee taste, which was so prevalent to begin, faded completely, leaving only the taste of bourbon.

Hans (our bartender) had warned us that this stout was unlike others in that it was better a little colder, and I'd agree with him. But then again, I much prefer the taste of coffee to bourbon. Because this was such an interesting and transformative beer, I'd give the Founders Kentucky Breakfast Bourbon Aged Stout a 3.5 mug rating. Was it worth $10? I'm not so sure. Luckily I had split the bottle with Gina.

As for Hot Shotz, I'd definitely recommend the place. They feature an extensive but not overwhelming beer menu, foods created with recipes based in beer, and a dedication to bringing unusual beers to Indy. In addition, they were showing the Tour de France when we arrived, which automatically earns them bonus points in my book. It's a prime location for Northside Beer-loving Colts fans - because as owner Brian Graham explained - you don't have to sacrifice on any detail of the experience at at Hot Shotz. They've got plenty of TVs, a great beer list, and a nice menu.

As much as I enjoy my experiences at Shallos on the southside, after 4 weekend visits I've pretty much explored the entire menu. Although Shallos offers 4 types of chicken sandwich, they're all just chicken sandwiches. Hot Shotz' does a better job by offering a menu has a lot of variety - everything from teriyaki kabobs to elephant ears. It's the type of restaurant any beer loving Hoosier should embrace, especially with ownership so dedicated to the cause.

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I often wonder if some of our readers read my reviews and think "what a waste of fantastic beer!". I know that the Breakfast Stout is highly rated by pretty much everyone... and I hate that I didn't find it to be the fantastic treat that most do. All I can say is that I know what I like; this wasn't it.

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