Some of the best coffee beers tend to be Imperial stouts, but a good alternative is a coffee porter. One of the best of that style is Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter, a well-balanced, full-flavored coffee porter that’s tasty and easy to drink.
This beer has an opaque black body. It forms a small tan soapy head that quickly fizzles away like a soda and doesn’t leave much lacing. There is a distinct coffee aroma as soon as the cap on the bottle is popped. Medium roasty notes are quickly evident.
One thing you notice about non-Imperial coffee porters and stouts is that the coffee flavor seems to fade fast. The first swig of Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter provides a lot of roasty coffee and roasted barley flavors, but the coffee seems to homogenize with the rest of the palate rather quickly. It’s a lovely bittersweet taste of authentic coffee and vanilla creamer (the beer is brewed with vanilla beans). There is more of the same through the middle, with a burst of bitterness on the finish.
Oddly, there is a slight vegetal character in the aftertaste. It’s easily overlooked and not distracting unless you concentrate on it. You’ll enjoy the coffee and general sweet flavors of this beer. It’s got a straightforward palate, but the tastes work quite well in the end.
You’ll be surprised by the mouthfeel and body of this beer. It is on the thinner, less carbonated side, but that enables it to be comfortable in the mouth and leads to a smooth finish. You’ll also be surprised to find that Alta Gracia Coffee Porter is only 5% ABV, as it seems quite robust for the weight. You could drink two for dessert and not feel guilty about it.
CP Review originally printed in The Handbook of Porters and Stouts.
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