Enjoying a good beer is all about context. Where the beer is consumed, the music playing in the background and who is sitting across the table from you are often the X-factors of the drinking experience. Throwing back a pint of something subtle at last call can yield a very different impression than carefully critiquing that same beer in your living room.
The why of a beer is also important; as in, “Why am I drinking it?” I often find some of my most memorable drinking experiences occur with beers I actively sought out. This, of course, introduces a sort of bias being when drinking a beer that I actively want or know to be delicious. Food can also play an integral role in beer drinking. Not only pairing a drink with a specific cuisine, but also the timing of the drink around the meal.
One of my recent buys fits right in the wheelhouse of after dinner beers, when chocolatey notes balanced with some roastiness or coffee flavors can act as a delightful nightcap. Meet Oskar Blues’ Death by Coconut. Coming in at 6.5% ABV and 25 IBUs, this seasonal Irish Porter hits all the right notes for dessert.
If you are going to call a beer 'Death by Coconut,' it better bring a serious coconut punch. This beer delivers on that and then some.”
Straight from the can, the beer pours with a rich brown hue, but a full glass is opaque and nearly black. A tight brown head sits atop, though it doesn’t hang around for long. Immediately after pouring waves of coconut and chocolate fill the air. It feels a bit cliche to say it smells like a Mounds bar, though it does, so let’s call it German chocolate cake. The analogy actually fits a little better due to the caramel, vanilla and some nutty aromas peeking out from behind the chocolate and coconut.
If you are going to call a beer “Death by Coconut,” it better bring a serious coconut punch. This beer delivers on that and then some. Coconut is the first flavor on each sip and the note that lingers after. It is not the sickly sweet fake coconut—think about the cheap coconut rum you probably swigged during your college days—but more like toasted coconut flakes.
Big hits of dark chocolate play alongside the coconut, pairing with some of those hidden vanilla, caramel and nut qualities from the aroma. This gives Death by Coconut the flavor of a much bigger beer, while the medium body and 6.5% ABV keep it from drinking like a heavier porter. Some slight bitterness from the 25 IBUs and the signature drying finish allow the beer to remain mostly in balance, if leaning to the sweeter side of things.
Towards the end of this particular beer-drinking experience, the coconut aftertaste starts to stack on the palate, taking on some of the unpleasant perfumy characteristics of artificial coconut. For that reason, I prefer to split each can of Death by Coconut. Lucky for me I usually have a willing companion to accept that other half of the beer.