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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Beer pick of the week: Dos Cocoas chocolate porter

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The fourth offering in the Terrapin Side Project series is a porter brewed with two kinds of Ecuadorean cocoa provided by Cacao Atlanta. Sixty pounds of cocoa powder are added after the boil. the finished beer is then aged on 60 pounds of cocoa nibs, lightly roasted cocoa beans crushed into coarse chunks.

Traditional porters often have some chocolate flavors from roasted specialty malts, so the addition of chocolate is a natural extension of the style. Terrapin thankfully avoids chocolate overload to create a subtle chocolate aroma and flavor complemented by dry, peaty malts. It tastes initially of powdery cocoa, just as advertised, with some smoky malts, raisin, caramel and earth. Bittersweet chocolate and coffee notes add to the complexity.

Hop flavor seems limited to some grassy, hay-like notes and a bit of citrusy tang that may also come from the yeast. Bitterness is subdued but more than adequate to counter the malts, which are pleasantly dry and toasty. The solid, consistent body lends a pleasing mouthfeel from beginning to end — smooth and mouth-coating, with a gentle carbonation. Alcohol becomes a bit more evident as it warms, but I would be surprised if it were more than 7 percent.

Dos Cocoas is a fantastic, easy-drinking porter in the English tradition. I could drink it all day. This is no Snickers bar, but it would certainly pair well with one.

(Photo by Jeff Holland)

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