Beer launches in Edinburgh are coming thick and fast at the moment – last week BrewDog Abstrakt AB:05 was premiered at Holyrood 9A, and this week it was the turn of Stewart Brewing’s new Coconut Porter (4.5%), unveiled last night at the Guildford Arms. Two very different producers and very different beers – although with AB:05 being aged on coconut there was some degree of connection between the two. Is coconut the new Citra?
Talking of which, there was also another new cask beer on offer from Stewart – Hopped Up IPA (3.9%), a version of their best-selling Pentland IPA with added Citra – we presume at the dry-hopping stage. Only the night before we had been drinking massively Citra-tastic beers as we tasted BrewDog’s IPA is Dead version alongside the Kernel Brewery India Pale Ale Citra (7.2%). As others have noted, very much the hop du jour [check back next week for our IPA is Dead podcast].
A direct comparison between Hopped Up and the BrewDog and Kernel versions isn’t really fair of course, as a 3.9% cask beer is fundamentally different from a 7%+ bottled version – Stewart’s had a subtle touch of lemon peel rather than a battering ram of sharp citrus. As a quaffable session beer, it was pretty good – the Citra making things a bit more interesting. Also on offer was a kegged version of the tremendous Hefeweizen (5.5%), which was gorgeous – ripe bananas and a long yeasty finish.
But the Coconut Porter was the reason for the crowds – and it certainly was crowded – once Steve Stewart announced the new beer was being served there was something of a charge to the bar, and the new arrival sold out within a couple of hours. Very dark and with a decent white head, the aromas were mostly chocolate-based, but some coconut came through on the nose. Also a touch of eggyness, but that was probably down to the short resting time and the frantic speed with which the bar staff were piling them out.
The million-dollar question with any beer advertising itself as an x-porter, or a y-infused stout is how much of the x or y you actually get. I didn’t get much coconut from the AB:05 – but I did from the Coconut Porter. They trialled four different versions, each with a heftier addition than the last – in the end they went for the third out of four (toasted coconut having been added while the porter was conditioning). Roasty porter flavours come first, with plenty of bitter chocolate tastes, before the coconut appears midway through. There is certainly more than a hint of the Bounty bar about it, before the finish fades a little into cocoa nib bitterness.
The consensus of the BeerCasters present at the launch (and Scottish RateBeer king Craig Garvie – who liveblogged the event) was that Coconut Porter is very good – having been aired a bit longer the cask would be even better. At 4.5% the finish does thin out a touch, so a bit extra in the abv department might have complemented the coconut – but these are minor issues, overall it was very impressive. Hopefully the success of the launch might persuade Stewart Brewing to make it a regular brew, or even bottle it…