Beer Review 0466: Terrapin Dos Cocoas Chocolate Porter

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Terrapin Beer Company (Athens, Georgia) have put out a new volume of their “Side Project” series, which are a group of beers that are limited release, tend to be on the experimental side, and come in bomber bottles. Some of these beers eventually make their way into Terrapin’s seasonal releases in 12 oz. bottles, but that tends to be a rare thing. Usually, these bottles are one and done.

In late 2012, coinciding with the United States Presidential Election, Terrapin asked beer drinkers to vote which of their previous seventeen Side Projects they would like to see make a one-time return — and voted #1 was Volume #4 in the series, first released in 2008 — Dos Cocoas.

Back then, Dos Cocoas was a chocolate porter brewed with two different types of cocoa; cocoa powder was used in the whirlpool, then the beer was aged for one month on a bed of cocoa nibs, supplied by Cocoa Atlanta. The 2013 remake sees the exact same brewing process used, but the cocoa is now provided by Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Company, also featured in the Terrapin beers Moo Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout (90 points) and Liquid Bliss Peanut Butter Porter (87 points). Dos Cocoas comes in at just 5.6% ABV (alcohol by volume), making this a somewhat pricey offering for the potency.

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Dos Cocoas pours an average size, creamy head that is light tan and has some staying power. The color of the beer is pretty typical for a Porter; it looks pitch black out of light, but in even modest light reveals itself to actually be dark brown with some reddish tints. The body is crystal clear, free of particles and sediment, and the lacing is good, leaving some weepy clinging bits behind on the glass.

Not sure exactly what I was expecting, but when I see a beer that has ‘cocoa’ in the name, I’m anticipating chocolate. Well, there’s some here, but it is nowhere near as potent as you might imagine. From the glass, the aroma is much like that of a milk stout; a touch of dry chocolate, some moderate roast and lactose. While that lactose isn’t actually present, there is a lingering sweetness. Now, if you take a whiff from the bottle, you get a bit of a different (and more appealing picture): creamy chocolate milk. Interesting and not what I expected. As the beer warmed, a mild note of vanilla showed itself, and the chocolate became more creamy and less dry.

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Unfortunately, the taste follows the nose in terms of intensity. The chocolate flavors are very mild and quite dry, nearly chalky; think of cocoa powder that didn’t get totally mixed up in your chocolate milk. There’s a nice layer of general roast, and I’ll say it again: this reminds me much more of a milk stout than a chocolate-flavored Porter. The finish is very clean with just a dash of dark chocolate; as the brew reaches room temperature, those chocolate notes linger and mix nicely with the roast, contributing some actual flavor to this otherwise dull beer. Dos Cocoas is light-bodied with a thin, fairly foamy texture.

This beer didn’t do it for me. Yes, this is a Porter, so the intensity of chocolate flavors that one would normally find in, say, a Stout, aren’t expected, I didn’t believe this beer would be lacking so much flavor. If you like only a dash of chocolate and a good amount of roasted notes in your beer, then this is for you; however, I don’t think this is for anyone at the price point — I can happily suggest beers on both ends of those particular flavor spectrums that not only more flavorful, but are cheaper.

You know what they say when a lot of people get together to vote for something… [rimshot!]

Terrapin Dos Cocoas Chocolate Porter, 77 points. Price: $8.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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