Some of the best coffee beers tend to be imperial stouts, but a good
alternative to those is a coffee porter. One of the best of the style I
can think of is Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter. A well-balanced,
full-flavored coffee porter that’s tasty and easy to drink.
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. It cost $2.50 ($0.21 per ounce).
Appearance: Opaque black body. Forms a small, tan, soapy head which
quickly fizzles away like a soda and doesn’t leave much lacing.
Smell: Distinct coffee aroma as soon as the cap on the bottle is popped. Medium roasty notes.
Taste: One thing I notice about non-imperial coffee porters and stouts
is that the coffee flavor seems to fade fast on them. The first swig of
Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter I got a lot of roasty coffee and
roasted barley flavors. But the coffee seemed 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, after all). More of the same through the middle with a burst of
bitterness on the finish.
What’s odd is I get a slight vegetal character in the aftertaste. It’s
easily overlooked and not distracting unless you concentrate on it.
Still, I enjoy the coffee and general sweet flavors of this beer. It’s a
bit of a simplistic palate, but the tastes it has going for it works
Drinkability: I was surprised by the mouthfeel and body of this beer. It
was on the thinner, flatter side, though this enabled it to be
comfortable in the mouth and lead to a smooth finish. I was also
surprised to find Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter is only 5% ABV, as
it seems quite robust for the weight. You could drink two of these for
dessert and not feel guilty about it.