Every year Off Color Brewing collaborates with a local specialty coffee roaster to create a coffee-infused variant of their popular DinoSmores Imperial Marshmallow Stout. In 2016 they teamed up with Metric Coffee, and last year they worked with Passion House Coffee Roasters; this year, Off Color Brewing collaborated with the delightfully demented folks at Dark Matter Coffee Company.
The goal of this year’s release was to find a floral, earthy coffee to complement the dominant chocolate mousse notes of the base DinoSmores stout. After tasting over a dozen coffees, Off Color were blown away by a natural Pacas from Federico Pacas’s Finca Las Marias in El Salavador. The Pacas variety was discovered as a natural dwarf mutation of the Bourbon cultivar. This genetic mutation makes the Pacas coffee plant more susceptible to Roya (coffee rust). To protect the plants from winds that carry Roya, Pacas is grown in valleys lined by the resilient and stalky San Pacho coffee plants.*
I cupped that coffee the other day in preparation for today’s review and was blown away by its complexity and uniqueness; I remarked that it was one of the most interesting and unique coffees I’ve ever had from a roaster that is known for their interesting and unique coffees.. I’m not sure how those notes are going to play out in such a full-bodied and boozy beer such as this, but I’m excited to find out!
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping Coffee DinoSmores, from Off Color Brewing in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
style: Imperial Stout
stemware: Brandy Snifter
Coffee DinoSmores slowly rolls out of the bottle and into my snifter a deep, obsidian black; just observing the way it pours I can tell this beer is thick and viscous—it’s a slow, lazy pour that rolls out of the bottle like molasses. It completely fills my snifter with blackness—there are no red or brown hues around the edges when held up to the light—and it is topped by thick tan head that has moderate retention and yields some nice lacing.
The aroma is sweet, as I suspected it would be. Rich and slightly roasty, bittersweet dark chocolate, graham cracker, vanilla… The coffee comes through but in a surprising way; rather than a generic “roasted coffee” note I’m picking up tropical fruit nuances.
The flavors are great—this is a fantastic beer. It has a heavy mouthfeel, a full presence, and a creamy mouthfeel. It has a pleasant carbonation and a slightly dry finish. It’s very sweet up front—decadent, even. Big flavors of milk chocolate, vanilla, graham cracker, and vanilla up front. The graham cracker is a bit more pronounced flavor-wise, and the vanilla adds a nice sugary touch to the beer, though it feels more like cream to the coffee rather than a marshmallow to the s’more. As the beer warms, superbly expressed coffee emerges—super flavorful with a light acidity that brings out some nice tropical fruit flavors that layer so well with the cacao and inherent graininess of the beer. Somehow, these tropical fruit flavors coupled with the high ABV burn and chocolate and vanilla notes makes for a flavor not unlike dark rum.
I’m not one to get super hyped for new beer releases. Sure, I get excited when I hear about a new beer from a reputable brewery; but I’m not usually the type of guy to pre-order it, or buy tickets to a release party, or stand in a long line in the dead of winter hours before a liquor store opens for a chance to nab a bottle. I’m just not one of those people. But when Off-Color Brewing announced that Coffee Dinosmores was returning, I became one of them. And I’m glad I did—it was totally the worth the effort involved in getting my hands on it.
What I appreciated most about this coffee was how superbly expressed the coffee component was. After cupping the cupping on its own the other day, I had no idea how it was going to play out in a beer like this; but all of its bright tropical fruit flavors came through and, best of all, complemented the base beer flavors so well. That alone made this one of the best coffee-infused stouts I’ve tasted here at the Table.
*content courtesy of Off Color Brewing
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.