Karbach F.U.N. 013 Kentucky Habit

Karbach F.U.N. 013, aka Kentucky Habit, is delicious and you should absolutely drink it. But it’s only half the beer you’re expecting.

Let’s back up. The latest release in Karbach’s F.U.N. series — their limited, occasional, barrel-aged line — is a bourbon-barrel aged Belgian quadrupel. Here’s a description Karbach marketing manager David Graham gave

“Kentucky Habit is brewed with a blend of specialty malts and cane sugar. We used a Trappist yeast for fermentation which lends some spicy, phenolic notes to hints of fig, caramel and raisin. This brew was aged in 72% Old Fitzgerald barrels and 28% Four Roses barrels. The aging process imparts some great toasted, vanilla oak character as well as a discernible bourbon flavor.”

Photo courtesy of Karbach Brewing via Twitter.

He’s about half right. There’s a lot of flavor here. Toasted, vanilla oak? Check. Sugary sweetness? Check. Discernible bourbon flavor? For days. This really is quite delicious. It’s undoubtedly a must-try for anyone who likes bourbon-barrel-aged beers. I do, and I had a hard time putting it down, even despite the hefty (and noticeable) 11.9% abv.

But where’s the quad? There’s nothing spicy/phenolic to be found. Dark fruit? Maybe — but not in the typical, estery quad/Belgian Strong Dark Ale kinda way. In fact, it’s very one-note. Now, it’s hard to complain when that one note tastes so good, but still: there’s nothing complex about this beer. It’s a dark, sweet, boozy bourbon bomb.

I don’t think I’m asking too much of Kentucky Habit. After all, a spectacular BBA quad, Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad, sits on Houston shelves year-round. (It also ages quite interestingly, for the record — the cherries gain prominence after a couple of years, giving it a really nice “imperial oud bruin” twist. I know I’m the #DrinkNow guy, but this one’s worth a shot.) And if you ever see Deschutes Not The Stoic return, buy it all — it’s one of my favorite releases from the last couple of years, and it absolutely nails the bourbon/quad mix.

Back to Karbach’s version. It reminds me a lot of their prior F.U.N. release, 012, aka Trigave. That was a Belgian-style tripel brewed with agave and aged in tequila barrels. It, too, was very tasty — with tons of tequila and barrel flavors, but no sign at all of the tripel. I enjoyed the beer and drank it more than once, but still found myself annoyed by it. If they’d called it a “tequila-barrel-aged agave golden ale”, I would’ve had no complaints. But I adore the classic Belgian styles, and if you call something a tripel, I want at least a hint of a tripel. Trigave had none.

Same goes for Kentucky Habit — I never found any quad. I easily and happily drank the whole bomber, too. So, go buy this. I know it’s limited, but I’m guessing there’s enough out there that you’ll be able to find it with a little bit of effort. I can just about guarantee that you’ll like it — as long as you’re OK with a delicious bourbon-barrel-aged dark ale, and you’re not expecting a quad.



Beer nerd. Erstwhile beer blogger. Mexican Houstonian.

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