Tasting: Ken Schmidt/Maui/Stone Kona Coffee, Macadamia, Coconut Porter

I believe we can all agree that when a representative of one of the nation’s most popular and best know craft breweries emails to say that he has “a precious few samples” of an intriguing new collaborative beer to share and asks if you would like to be one of the recipients, there is but one way in which to respond politely. And that I am nothing if not polite.

Okay, even if you want to pass on committing to that latter, you know how I answered, right?

Ken Schmidt/Maui/Stone Kona Coffee, Macadamia, Coconut Porter (whew!) had me at the git-go, to be honest. I love coffee almost as much as I love beer, I consider coconut one of the world’s most enticing edibles, I am one of those bad people who surreptitiously pick at the Macadamia nuts out of the mixed bowl at a party and Hawaii is one of my favorite places on earth. Plus I am a big fan of Stone Brewing. Okay, I dunno this Ken Schmidt guy, but I’m willing to commit to liking him too and herewith acknowledge that my condescending attitude toward homebrewers is mere shtick.

The story of how this very good beer came to be can be read here. Go thou and become informed whilst I sort out my notes.

Ken Schmidt et al is exactly the sort of beer which I’d like to have stocked away to drink in front of the fire of a cold winter night. It is delicious, marvelous complex and full-bodied and designed for sipping and savoring. It’s big at 8.5% but not overwhelming, nor is that much of an issue because a single bottle is so satisfying that it’s difficult to imagine anyone who might want to go for an immediate second rather than wait for another night, another excellent experience.

Nothing is perfect, of course, and it should be noted that the coffee flavors are overwhelming at first, obscuring all others. This is surely the coffiest coffee beer ever. Those flavors are so real and recognizably high quality that I should also note that this is in no way a complaint, merely an observation. There were, not unexpectedly, chocolate notes throughout, especially in the nose. Nutty Macadamia-ness slowly emerged after a few more sips, while the coconut did not really manifest itself until near the end of the bottle. When it did, I was—how do the fancy reviewers put it?—enchanted, to say the least.

In retrospect, I suspect that I might have begun with the beer a bit too cold, even though it was moderately chilled at most. I intend to score another bottle when this one hits our market (or sooner, if I can find out where local sales rep  Lee Marrin parks and break into his trunk) and try it at room temp, because that finish, will all flavors present, was one of the better beer moments I’ve experience all year.

Heartfelt thanks to Matt Steele for the opportunity.



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