This week’s installment of Tasting Notes has us fending off the midweek malaise with a very special bottle of Aloha! Berlin Imperial Coconut Porter from Stone Brewing (Escondido, California) and Maui Brewing Co. (Kihei, Hawaii).
Originally released back in late 2016 as the first of fourteen Stone Groundbreaking Collaborations brewed to commemorate the opening of Stone Berlin, Aloha! Berlin is an Imperial Coconut Porter that carries on a long history of collaboration between Stone Brewing and Maui Brewing Co. Filled with “the welcoming spirit of the Aloha State”, Aloha! Berlin echoes past collaborations between the two breweries as it showcases “ingredients familiar to the islands – rich coffee and pounds of hand-toasted coconut – and introduces hazelnuts into the mix.” Clocking in at 9.3% ABV, Aloha! Berlin boasts an experience “deeply rooted in Hawaii, San Diego, Europe and friendship, capturing the true essence of the word ‘aloha,’ which also means on a deeper level ‘joyfully sharing life.'”
Although Aloha! Berlin was originally released in 2016 via a special-order campaign, a limited amount of it and six other Stone Groundbreaking Collaborations were re-released back in December of 2017. It may be a bit more difficult to track them down these days, but a few of these 750ml and 1.5L bottles might still be tucked away on shelves at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Virginia and throughout the rest of Stone Brewing’s distribution footprint.
That should just about wrap up this beer’s background info, so let’s properly introduce Aloha! Berlin to a glass and get into these Tasting Notes!
Tasting Notes for Aloha! Berlin Imperial Coconut Porter from Stone Brewing & Maui Brewing Co.
Appearance: Aloha! Berlin pours a seemingly black in color and wears right at a finger of almond colored foam. When held to direct light, the color opens – especially at the edges – to reveal that this Imperial Porter is actually a rich, dark brown. The beer is opaque, but a pulse of carbonation can be seen near the edges of the glass. Head retention is decent, but it does eventually fall to a lasting ring that leaves behind chunky lace patterns after each pull.
Aroma: Toasted coconut leads the aromatics with a supporting cast of mixed nuts – mostly hazelnuts and cashews. Coffee rises up to establish a bit of earthiness and a whole lot of roasty goodness. That roast then draws your attention to the underlying malts that also offer notes of indulgent caramel and bittersweet chocolate.
Taste: A firm Porter base establishes itself first with really nice layers of dark chocolate, caramel and toffee. A toasted coconut presence that is both sweet and booze soaked then emerges alongside a dollop of cream. Just before the entire experience becomes awash with a closing flood of roasted coffee, a European influence settles in as hazelnuts ride in on another layer of rich chocolate. There is a lot at work here, but it is all nuanced and ridiculously tasty.
Mouthfeel: Sitting on the fuller side of medium in body with a moderate carbonation level, this beer has a great weight that maintains a smooth, easy sippin’ experience. Although it is mostly sweet on the palate, the roast from the coffee brings out a nice bitterness that assists with balance and keeps this thing from getting cloying. The ABV does bring a touch of heat to the throat and further promotes this beer’s intention to be a sipper. The aftertaste leaves behind some dark chocolate and coffee.
Final Thoughts: Aloha! Berlin comes together as a wonderful mashup of a solid but larger representation of Maui Brewing’s respected Coconut Hiwa Porter and Stone Brewing’s love of everything that is unapologetically big and bold. That combo on its own is more than enough to result in an amazing beer, but they took this experience to the next level by recognizing the establishment of Stone Berlin with the addition of hazelnuts – an ingredient that is often used in German treats and chocolates. All of these layers result in a sip that simultaneously possesses plenty of tropical goodness, a European quality that has a comforting familiarity, a robust coffee character that serves as some middle ground, and a careful mix of the three that translates as a slightly scaled back, not-so-sweet German chocolate cake note. It is everything you could possible want when you see a beer label that reads “Aloha! Berlin Imperial Coconut Porter“. It is all things Maui Brewing Co. . . . It is all things Stone Brewing . . . and it is abundantly clear why this offering served as the first of the fourteen beers in this series. If you are lucky enough to run across this beer out in the wild, you owe it to yourself to try it. Prost!