Coffee Bear | Hop Butcher
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When you hear the name Hop Butcher, you immediately think IPAs. And you’d be right to think that. A vast majority of their output comes in that form, whether a milkshake, double, triple, single, or pale ale. But yes, Hop Butcher does make other styles and the most frequent of those is the stout like Coffee Bear.
We’ve featured multiple stouts from Hop Butcher over the years on the podcast but it pales in comparison to their hoppy output. Typically their stouts run towards the sweeter end of the spectrum. In one of the last face-to-face recordings we did on the podcast, Fat Bear came out on top of our blind Peanut Butter Cup Stout rankings (and subsequently showed up on my year-end rankings). Fat Bear featured tons of peanut butter and a nice dose of chocolate backing things up. So when Hop Butcher kicked off 2022 with Coffee Bear, I kept my eyes peeled. Thankfully I acquired one.
Coffee Bear pours black with about a finger and a half of creamy brown head. The head behaved like whipped cream while visible, with portions in the middle maintaining their form atop the beer. That head stays around for some time and never really vanishes, situating to a thin layer when petered out. Very little in the way of highlights along the rim, but some brown highlights may show up.
Yes, Hop Butcher really knows how to impart adjunct flavors on the nose. They’re typically big and bold and Coffee Bear is no exception. A blast of peanut butter. Some lovely milk chocolate. Some coffee roast. It’s all there. Smelling as a whole, it reminds me of a Reese’s peanut butter cup – if the Resse’s had some coffee in it! I’m surprised there hasn’t been a coffee Reese’s yet. Digging a little deeper reveals some nice fruit notes (cherries and berries) emanating from the coffee used. But seriously, what it says on the can is what you get.
Going into a Hop Butcher stout, I kind of expected sweetness. Not Coffee Bear. Coffee reigns supreme, as the bitter roast used really dominates the palate. That coffee bitterness also keeps any sweetness in absolute check, even turning the entire experience bitter. Some nuttiness from the peanut butter peeks out a little during the bitter surge, but I wouldn’t call this a peanut butter-foward beer. Chocolate plays third fiddle, dropping some sweetness nuggets along the way but not asserting itself in the beer at all.
Coffee Bear drinks below its 10.5% ABV, mostly due to that coffee bitterness. The peanut butter also assists in the mouthfeel as it helps coat the tongue along the sip. It also deceives you in terms of carbonation; Coffee Bear really sits at a medium, but the peanut butter gives off the feel of a low and slow carbonation. But things generally move across the tongue, with a hearty amount of bitterness left behind.
So where does all this leave Coffee Bear? It’s easy to drink, butter and does feature some peanut butter and chocolate. I do have a sweet tooth, so many I just prefer the less bitter and more in-your-face peanut butter of the original Fat Bear. If you’re a huge fan of coffee beers, definitely scoop this up. If Hop Butcher can nail a better balance between the coffee, peanut butter, and chocolate, this one would be right up there – and possibly better than – Fat Bear.