Thursday, November 5, 2009

Papago Brewing's Coconut Joe milk stout

Sometimes you stumble on such a unique taste - such an original flavor, that you can not help but be impressed with the sheer balls it takes to put them together. Bacon Martinis. Chocolate covered bagels. Buttered Popcorn and Skittles. Coconut coffee Milk Stout.

Now, I love coffee, adore coconut and treasure my beer - but I never would have put them all together. That was what I found at the Great American Beer Fest from Papago Brewing Company out of Scottsdale, Arizona. They actually make two different flavored coffee beers - this Coconut Joe and an Irish Cream Coffee blend as well.

The name Papago refer a Native American Tribe in Arizona, known as one of the first brewers in the region. They brewed a "corn beer" called Tesquino in weaved baskets of which they are still famous for today. As for the decidedly non-local Coconut beer, you can find this in beer bars throughout all of Arizona.

To make this brew, Papago uses a cold filtered method on coffee beans that are used for wholesale and mass distribution. They brew their cream stout first, then add their 48 hour cold filtered coffee into the beer and let it steep for 4 days before calling it done.

While surrounded by coffee beers in every direction (there were over 45 coffee beers at the GABF) I was completely taken aback by this sample. Enough so I had to go back and try it again just to be sure what I was tasting was real. The beer was very thick -very good and deep. It was an opaque black and looked like it could suck up all the light in the room. When tasting, it was flavored like coffee and a coconut dessert, like a cream pie and dark beer mixed together.

While the milk stout was great, I wish they used a better process for the coconut coffee. I have seen some beers which use regular coconut in the brewing process, and I have heard tell of some actually making a coconut beer, then adding coffee. In this case, however, coconut flavored beans from California Coffee Roasters were used. It seems like a sloppy shortcut to use wholesale beans brewed for consumers- like going to the store and choosing the Mills Brothers Flavored Coffe blend.

The coconut flavor ended up tasting fake - like a coconut extract or a manufactured flavoring. I thought it still was pretty tasty and unique, but it was certainly not as good as it could have been. I just wish they took the time to really put in that extra effort to find the right way to make a much stronger richer coffee and a real coconut flavor to add to their already fantastic milk stout.

According to the genius researchers at, a pound of coffee has about 8½ grams of caffeine. Of course this would vary wildly depending on the kind of coffee and the brewing method. In this case, the brewing method is the one of choice for most coffee brews - the cold filtering method. This cuts down on the acidity while increasing the caffeine content. Because there are so many methods to make a flavored coffee, it would be hard to know for sure whether this roast is likely to produce a high caffeine or low caffeine yield, it is a good bet that a medium roast was used to make the California Coffee Roasters coconut coffee beans.

This means, since the brewmaster at Papago use 3/4 pound of coffee in a barrel of stout that one barrel, or 31 gallons of beer has 637.5mg of caffeine + an extra third stronger for the brewing method. This all equals around 24ish milligrams of caffeine per gallon, or about a whole 3 milligrams a pint... You would get more buzz out of a Hershey Bar than you ever would drinking this down.

Although, the stout itself has only 5.5% alcohol content, so maybe drinking a whole lot of this beer is not impossible. But if you are looking for a strong potent coffee beer, you won't find it here. And really, that's a real shame - because I could think of no better treat to go with my donuts.

1 comment:

  1. Hey I just discovered this brew tonight. I gottat agree that the coconut is pretty weak and the coffee could be better, especially since there is great coffee (third wave even!) within a few miles. I can attest to the drinkability, though; my growler disappeared in a couple hours.