Dark Horse Brewing Perkulator Coffee Dopplebock

November 07 2011 - 12:50 PM

Michigan brewing leaders Dark Horse Brewing can't make up their mind regarding their branding.  Oddly, they have flipped from packaging their beers with bright tan backgrounds that contrasted nicely with dark lettering, to dark, murky backgrounds which muddle all of the nearly-as-dark lettering.  I have no idea what's fueling this.  Survey data?  The desire to appear mysterious?  A pact with the man down below?   Perhaps a reflection on Michigan's soured economy?   I'm not sure.   But if you need some mental stimulation for pondering this or other issues, start with their coffee dopplebock, The Perkulator.

Bocks are traditional German lagers with very little hopping.  Dopplebocks are even higher in alcohol and sweeter.   Bored by convention, Dark Horse added an element to their take on Dopplebocks to make it memorable and challenging: a boatload of coffee.  Many beers taste like coffee.   A number of them smell like coffee blended with other stuff.  Perkulator may be the first that smells like straight up coffee; one whiff and I'm at Dunkin' Donuts beneath the Brown Line on Wells at 8 am.  The level to which coffee dominates the odor is almost alarming since it looks nothing like java.  Perkolator's a light brown and very translucent.  You can tell right away you're not in for some vicscous brew, but a lighter, easy drinking body.

If Dark Horse had declined to load this up with coffee, it would be just another easy drinking bock and y0u'd be looking at your watch right now.  This is rescued from the ordinary by a pleasant roasted flavor and coffee acidity that secures your attention and delivers a pick-me-up.  A moderate amount of carbonation and a layer of sweeter malts keep you focused on the fact that, yes, it is indeed a beer.  Strangely enough, even the mouth feel is very coffee-like, similar to a decent cup at a chain restaurant sans cream. 

Perkulator is highly enjoyable.   It's a beer I'd want only one of since it will saturate your tongue with coffee and limit your enjoyment of many other types of beers such as fruity, floral IPA's or beers with more subtle flavors.   Give it a shot with your breakfast on St. Patty's Day.  Just be sure to cue the appropriate music

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