Granville Island Brewing is continuing to pump out some neat beers at their local small batch brewery on Vancouver’s own Granville Island. For this release, they were kind enough once again to invite me out to interview Mike (their beer merchant) about the beer, to try it out and to ask a few fun questions along the way to keep it interesting and fun. They were also kind enough to toss a few samples my way to enjoy at home, which I consumed in order to provided some tasting notes on at the bottom of this article as well as simply for my own enjoyment of course!
This newly release beer is the result of the evolution of their small batch winter release Imperial Chocolate Stout, which became Cocoa Loco Porter and has now turned into the new 6% abv Mocha Porter after a series of recipe modifications, name changes and the overall evolution of the market. It features Ghanaian cocoa nibs, combined with specialty dark malts and a custom dark roast JJ Bean single origin Peruvian coffee that is roasted specifically for this beer. Both JJ Bean and Granville Island Brewery got their starts on Granville Island itself, so it’s only fitting that they collaborated on this release. Word is that they have a long history of exchanging uppers for downers (and vice versa) over the years.
Here’s what Mike had to say about this year’s release:
Q – How did this collaboration start?
A – Our winter porter has always had some coffee flavours in it from the darker specialty malts we use in the brewing process, however we wanted to amp those up a little bit this time. The opportunity to collaborate with a company that our staff frequents daily came up as an idea to evolve the winter release into something new that combined two of our favourite things to drink: coffee and beer.
Q – Spill the beans! What’s unique about this beer and how was it made?
A – JJ Bean did up a custom, very dark roast for us to put into this beer using a single origin Peruvian grown bean and we added cocoa nibs from Ghana to give it that classic Mocha chocolate flavour. We spent some time blending it with a porter to perfect the right mix of beans to brew and then made the beer based on those tests. The beans themselves were coarse ground and then added in a way that was similar to the cold brew coffee process, all bundled up in a giant hop bag and steeped for about 24 hours in the beer (kind of like you would dry hop a beer late in the fermentation). Since there were some concerns about combining stimulants (caffeine) and depressants (alcohol), we used a decaffeinated coffee bean as opposed to a caffeinated one.
Q – What flavours were you trying to hit in the coffee to combine with the beer?
A – We were looking to really build on the coffee flavours from the malt and produce a beer that showcased a balance of all flavours, from the cocoa nibs, to the malts and the dark roast coffee beans in a way that complemented each other in a balanced fashion.
Q – What’s the most ideal place to drink this beer, in your opinion?
A – Up in a cozy snow covered mountain cabin by a fire
Q – What kind of music would be playing while you drink it?
A – After Mike contemplated the question for a little but, I kindly suggested “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate and after some laughter Mike said he was cool with that.
Q – Any suggestions on how to cook with this beer or what to pair it with?
A – It makes a great beer float and would pair well with any rich chocolaty food or even something with a bit of chili spice to get that delightful chili and chocolate combo. For cooking it would be excellent for braising meat or as an ingredient in say bacon jam or a substitute liquid in a coffee cake recipe.
Check out this quick video from their Facebook Page for more information on the beer:
My Tasting Notes:
Aroma and Appearance: It pours a dark brown colour with a small layer of foam, hints of visible carbonation on the side of the glass and just a touch of lacing foam remain in the glass as it goes down. The aroma is pungent dark coffee beans, fresh smelling cocoa nibs and nuances of toasted oats.
Flavour: Up front there’s a big cocoa nib presence flaunting all the chocolaty goodness you need before transitioning into a dark coffee centric middle. It has a fairly smooth creamy texture, mimicking a true mocha coffee before it finishes with some dry cocoa powder and just a touch of dark chocolate bitterness.
Overall Impression: I was left with a pretty good impression of this beer when it was all said and done. There was a good sense of balance between the coffee and chocolate flavours that didn’t overwhelm my palate, yet allowed each flavour to exist in its own right.
Food Pairing: As mentioned above, any rich chocolaty food will work or any treat that pairs well with coffee like biscotti would work too.
Where To Find It: It’s available at their tasting room on Granville Island, many private stores that carry their small batch products and even some government liquor stores.