Joe Latte Coffee Vanilla Stout – Craft Brewers

Let me preface this review by saying I think there might be something wrong with this bottle of beer. I notice no usual signs of it being past its prime, the date says 5/15/15 and it’s within that period, however something is just off about it. There is an overwhelming ‘bottle’ taste to it and it smells straight up like pennies.

Now I love coffee, I am one of those weirdos who actually grinds his own beans to ensure the freshest cup of joe I can get. I think it comes from my absolute hatred of mornings and love of sleep, I need a good strong cup to actually wake up and want to take over the world. So naturally I gravitate to coffee stouts as they give me the wonderful combination of beer and coffee, much like Drew Carey did back in the day. You can imagine I had high hopes for this beer, especially after the kind gentleman at Beers of The World recommended it to me as ‘one of the best coffee stouts’ he has ever had.

Joe Latte describes itself as a rich creamy milk stout, unfortunately I found it to be none of these things. The beer poured great, very aggressive head on it. The smell was just wrong, it literally smelled like someone had tossed a couple pennies in while I wasn’t looking. Science says this is due to oxidation or just metallic taste to the water they’re using, but with an above 85% rating on popular beer rating sites I can’t believe this is a common occurrence and assume the bottle I had went bad at some point.

Once I got past the smell I bravely took a sip; immediate thoughts were ‘that’s it?’ followed by ‘pennies literally in my nose’. This was not going as I had hoped, it was definitely a coffee stout as evidenced by the strong black coffee taste, but I was disappointed. The whole idea of the beer seemed to be making it taste like a latte and this tasted like a scoop of Folgers in my beer. There was no evidence of vanilla or lactose sugars in the beer at first sip or last. I wanted this to be coffee stout meets milk stout, but it just wasn’t. Given that the pennies smell was there I figured maybe that was messing with the flavor, I have a particularly strong sense of smell so I decided to pinch my nose and dive in to another taste.

Suddenly there was a whole different thing going on with this beer, I could taste vanilla, it was subtle but finally there. Still I couldn’t bring myself to keep pinching my nose to drink this beer, the logistics alone was just odd not to mention how I probably looked like a crazy person. I resigned myself to my fate of wanting to find something more positive about this beer and just not finding it. The more I drank the more I wished I had a new bottle or a glass of this on draft to compare my experience to, having neither of these things I finished it and took notes.

I would put this in the ‘decent’ category for beer. It was certainly not terrible, the pennies thing was a huge detractor for me, but I got past it about halfway through the glass. Still the beer was just very one dimensional, which would be fine if not for the advertising on the bottle telling me wonderful things, if it was just labeled a coffee stout I would have accepted it completely.

It’s a shame but I give this beer a C- under the hopes that I get another one at some point to review it again and have a way better experience. I was hoping for so much more from this and have grown to expect great things from NY state beers in general, sadly this was not what I expected.

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