9.5

Founders Lizard of Koz Review

Drink Reviews Founders Brewing Company
Share Tweet Submit Pin
Founders Lizard of Koz Review

Since 2011, Founders Brewing Company has been releasing 750ml bottles of some super limited and highly sought after brews under the Backstage Series label a few times a year. So far, only two beers — Blushing Monk and Mango Magnifico — have made an encore appearance, but the series continues to cover a range of styles and flavors. This year’s second release is Lizard of Koz: A bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout that’s brewed with blueberries, chocolate and vanilla. If you’re thinking that sounds like liquid dessert, I completely agree based on description alone.

Lizard of Koz is pitch black when it hits the glass with a thick mocha-colored head that takes several minutes to recede. It never fully disappears, instead leaving a decent bubbly ring around the edge of the glass. In the nose, all three of the aforementioned added ingredients are present, though the aromas of chocolate and vanilla dominate. I get a hint of blueberry fruitiness as well, but it’s a lot more subtle than the other two.

The first sip of Koz is loaded with blueberry sweetness and some oaky heat from the barrel-aging process. I was worried that this beer would be overly sweet, and while I’ve heard others make the comment, I don’t think that’s the case. Sure, Lizard of Koz is plenty sweet, but it’s best enjoyed in small amounts. I’d say if you can split a bottle four ways that would be a good place to start. I can see why people wouldn’t care for the sweetness if they tried to sip through a full 10- or 12-ounce pour.

As the beer warms up, flavors of fresh blueberries continue to dominate, but I get a smidge more vanilla than I did at first. A hint of bourbon remains, although it’s a little more subdued. I never really taste chocolate, but that might not be a bad thing as there’s plenty going on here already. This actually reminds me of a sweeter version of Olde Hickory’s Lindley Park — another barrel-aged Imperial Stout that doesn’t have the chocolate and vanilla additions and uses raspberries instead of blueberries. Let’s call those two distant cousins.

After a few ounces of Koz, my initial suspicion was correct: This is a great option for a dessert beer. There’s a ton of sweetness in the brew already, so I wouldn’t recommend pairing it with cake, pie or another sugary treat. A creamy goat cheese or something similar might be a better food pairing here. If you have to go for something sweet, plain cheesecake could be a solid choice. Of course, Lizard of Koz has the fruit, chocolate and vanilla you would normally get in a dessert item, so pouring yourself a glass and skipping the baked goods entirely would still provide a satisfying after-dinner treat.

Brewery: Founders Brewing Company
City: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Style: Stout – American Imperial / Double
ABV: 10.5%
Availability: Limited across Founder’s distribution footprint in 750ml bottles


Billy is the host of The Brewcast, a beer podcast that never records on a regular schedule. You can follow his drinking habit @beardbrews on Twitter.