A damn fine cup of coffee (porter)

Dale Cooper would approve.

Special Agent Dale Cooper would approve.

The Specs: Tofino Brewing Co.’s Dawn Patrol Coffee Porter
6.5 per cent ABV, 650 mL, Winter seasonal

Yup, To-fine-o Brewing again. I can’t help it, guys. I’m a sucker for porters. Also, I was too lazy to make coffee on the morning of the day I tested this and by 5:30 p.m. was hurting for a cup of the black stuff in the worst way.

Lucky for me, Dawn Patrol delivers. This isn’t some run-of-the-mill ‘notes of chocolate and coffee’ beer. This is coffee as beer. My poor, under-caffeinated soul could not have asked for a purer fusion of the two.

First, it nails the scent. Imagine taking a whiff off a good bag of corse-ground beans, about a medium roast. There’s a bit of a beery background as well, but it’s predominantly coffee on the nose.

If you’ve ever had a really good cup of cold-brewed iced coffee, you’ll recognize a lot of the notes in this beer — which plays a bit like a sharp, fruity espresso, but with the rounder, mellower tones that come from a long, cold steep. Even the bitterness here is characteristic of coffee rather than beer.

If I didn’t know it’d actually be vile, I might assume this was cold brew with beer in it, rather than beer brewed with coffee. I think the darn thing even fixed my caffeine-withdrawal headache.

That’s not to say there’s nothing beery here. You’ve got a light carbonation, and a little bit of maltiness you’d be hard pressed to get from anything on offer at your average Starbucks. There are some background tones of vanilla as well, though they’re easy to miss in all the coffeecoffeecoffee excitement.

It should go without saying that this is not a beer for you if you don’t like coffee, but I’ll say it anyway. Don’t drink coffee? Don’t drink this… leave more of it for me.


Dat label though.

Dat label though.

The Specs: Tofino Brewing Tuff Session Ale
5 per cent ABV, 650mL, regular series

I don’t pretend to know anything about the ins and outs of craft beer marketing, so I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason that Tofino Brewing only sells this session ale in 650mL bombers (in looking at their website, perhaps because this brewery only sells beers in bombers, period?)

But, just because it likely makes more financial sense doesn’t mean I can’t be sad about it, because Tuff session ale would be a beautiful six-pack beer.

The criticism I hear over and over from non-craft drinkers is that there aren’t a lot of craft beers you want to drink more than two pints of in a go.

Depending on your drinking habits, that may be an argument for your dark, bitter, challenging brews, but it’s the reason why even now I’m as likely to take something brewed on a macro scale to any house party lasting more than three hours. In some instances, beer isn’t meant to be the star of the show.

If you’ve been at the well of the craft brew too long and find yourself a little disappointed every time you have go back to the big guys, Tuff is a great choice. After all, session ale is just a fancy term for “beer you drink all night.”

This one in particular has a malty sweetness to it, followed up by just the littlest kick of hoppy bitterness, to remind you what kind of beverage you’re imbibing. The finish is clean, the carbonation not too heavy, the mouth feel smooth.

In other words, it’s exactly as chill a beer as you’d expect from a bottle with a surfboard on its label.

One quick note: The brewery’s website tells me this beer isn’t a particularly common find outside the Lower Mainland, though pretty much the full line of Tofino brews are available here in Kamloops at the Lansdowne Liquor Store, which is kicking some serious ass at the craft game lately.

(I’m so sorry about that pun  —A.)