Wolaver's Alta Gracia Coffee Porter | Otter Creek Brewing

very good
253 Reviews
Wolaver's Alta Gracia Coffee PorterWolaver's Alta Gracia Coffee Porter

Brewed by:
Otter Creek Brewing
Vermont, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
Unfiltered and unpasteurized porter brewed with Vermont grown organic coffee and aged on organic vanilla beans.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-30-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 253 | Ratings: 780
Photo of biglite351
3.43/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - a tiny red strip around the edges. Medium tan thick foam that leaves no lacing.

S - coffee with some chocolate and malt. There is also a bitter bad scent buried in there.

T - nice coffee scent with mild malts. Overall good, but too light beyond the coffee.

M - mild coating a hint of tingle on the back sides of the tongue.

D - as a coffee drinker, I could drink this brew all night.

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Photo of mothman
4.34/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

As I twist the cap off I get an instant dose of hershey's syrup. Yummmm

Poured into Bells tulip

Pours a copper brown, but settles nearly black. Pours about 1 finer of light tan head. Settles down and leaves a slight amount of thin lace.

Aroma: Y-E-S! The hershey's chocolate syrup is still here. Brings some coffee flavors and roasted malts. Honestly, a porter can not get any better than this. Rich, silky chocolate with fresh coffee. WOW! This is in your face awesomeness!

Taste: Crossing my fingers that the taste is just like the aroma. Here we go. It's there, but a just a tad lighter than I was expecting. Starts out with a huge dose of the same hershey's chocolate syrup instantly followed by rich, sharp coffee. It has some roasted malts as well. Has some vanilla in the taste as well. For a porter, this is pretty legit, but it doesn't live up to the aroma.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends with an overly roasted aftertaste with some coffee showing.

Overall, this porter really surprised me. The aroma is unbelievable and I just wish the taste packed a huge punch that the aroma did. It is really good and I am glad I had a chance to try it. I won't have a problem finishing this one.

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Photo of billab914
4.04/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Portsmouth snifter glass. Poured black in color with a thin tan foam ring for a head that clung to the edges of the glass.

It has a fantastic roasted coffee aroma to it. It smells pretty much like a fresh pot of good coffee. I can't say it's an incredibly complex flavor since I'm not getting much else through the coffee, but the the coffee flavor is very good.

The taste is not surprisingly coffee focused. I have to say, this beer damn near is coffee. it finishes with a long lasting roasted coffee bitterness with just a hint of some cocoa. If this was less carbonated and hot it might actually pass for coffee. Again I can't say that it has a complex beer flavor to it but the coffee flavor is pretty good.

Mouthfeel is a little on the thin side with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is decent, but you really have to be in the mood for coffee for it to be drinkable. I really enjoyed it after dinner tonight and it was very drinkable in this setting. Overall however it was pretty one dimensional, a very good coffee flavor but nothing that made me really say wow like say Speedway did. Some beer flavors could have been a bit more pronounced.

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Photo of cbutova
3.65/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours out black but some light shines through the edges. A fairly creamy two finger head builds up but dies down fairly quickly to a thick cloud atop the beer. Leaves a small bit of lacing.

S- Fairly faint. Coffee hints come through the most. Some brown sugar and caramel roast malts are behind the coffee. Definitely needs some strength because I can hardly pick it up.

T- Pure coffee, wow. Some roasty malt notes and caramel malt in the background but mostly pure coffee. The coffee taste is not as good as Peche Mortel or Breakfast stout but it is one of the strongest ones there is. There is some bitterness from the coffee.

MF- Fairly creamy but the body is pretty light, needs some more thickness for the flavors that the beer contains. The carbonation is moderate and appropriate. A coat of coffee stays on the palate. No alcohol effects.

DB- Good taste, decent everything else. The price is good as with most Wolaver's stuff. No huge off flavors but the coffee gets to be too strong for me after a bit, but it is a coffee porter. Would like to try it again on tap sometime.

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Photo of Pencible
4.07/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This poured a nearly opaque dark mahogany with some tan head. It smelled like delicious roasted coffee and cream, with some dark chocolate and hazel nut. It tasted like fresh roasted coffee with dry dark chocolate, and some sugar and cream. It was watery with a little carbonation, and had a bitter aftertaste. Overall this had a great coffee scent with a nice clean taste. The body was a bit weak, and there wasn't much depth to it - basically like drinking a chilled coffee. But it was very enjoyable and definitely worth trying once.

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Photo of Sammy
3.65/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I have found organic beers to be a bit watery and thin. Similarly here, however the mildness of the coffee was preferable to me than another thick coffee beer. It was more pleasant to drink at lunchtime, sessionable. Poured black, with roasted coffee aromas.

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Photo of younger35
4.92/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This brew has been sitting in the fridge since my main man BeerTruth sent this awhile back. Not sure why it's sat so long, especially after my first sip. Drank from my Surly nonic pint glass.

Appearance- Pours a nice deep dark black with a beautiful one finger light tan head that seems to stick around forever. A decently spotty cap and thin collar remain leaving behind some freckles of lacing.
Smell- Nice milky cream smell with plenty of rich roasted coffee to back it up. Slightly sweet smelling with a touch of vanilla and a touch of chocolate. Absolutely what a coffee brew should smell like as the coffee is dominate but plenty else going on.
Taste- Starts much the same as the nose. A nice light milky sweetness slowly gives way to loads of rich roasted coffee that is at the perfect strength. A bit of milk chocolate peaks through in the finish as does a bit of roasted bitterness.
Mouthfeel- Maybe just a touch lighter than I'd like but the carbonation is spot on as its light and tingly.
Drinkability- What a great freaking beer. It's no secret I love coffee beers but this was a hidden gem. So drinkable and smooth and the coffee aspect is EXACTLY where it should be. Potent and even somewhat balanced with the rest of the beer. Thanks much Adam, awesome shit!!

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.88/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Pour out the darkness and watch the ecru head guillotine itself down to almost nothing, a tropical shoreline in the Atoll of the Damned. Frankly, it's not as bad a place as it sounds. Give it a chance and leave your preconceived notions (and inhibitions, YOW!) at home. Nearly nothing but, and, I know, I'm shocked, coffee up front: roasted and dark. My kind of chicken. Hell, it may just be my sad excuse for a nose, but I'm gettin' nothin' but the roasted dark. Na ja. This coffee-ness is nicely subdued a bit once the mouth is involved. Don't get me wrong, it's still there in all its bean-founded glory. It's just that now its solitude is shattered by visits from bitter chocolate and almond. The Hersheys, though, don't stay long, and the coffe once again finds itself alone in that big ol' house. It'd be sad if it weren't tasty. A medim-sized body and thickness will help ease this guy back into the arms of a waiting, sociable public. Trust me, if you'd met him, you'd like him. Ask around.

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Photo of ispeakfree
4.3/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

My first experience with Wolaver's- will not be my last!

Appearance- Pours black like coffee, with a creamy white head that's only a finger and does not retain that long.

Smell- Coffee, coffee, some vanilla, and more coffee- in the best way possible

Taste- Strong hints of vanilla and fancy brewed coffee in the beginning, very smooth with little hop follow through or typical beer bitterness- especially delicious

Mouthfeel- Smooth to drink, with the creamy head helping to smooth out the bitter coffee notes and molasses flavor. Slightly thick, but nothing unpleasant.

Drinkability- Loses points here mainly because I can't imagine having more than one or two in a sitting. Strong buzz of caffeine and alcohol, and it certainly feels like you are enjoying a mug of coffee.

Highly recommended, unique coffee porter. The organic certification and sustainable and fair farming practices for the products add another neat and inspiring dimension, as well. A beer I would love to have laying around at all times, to be enjoyed in moderation.

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Photo of scottbrew4u
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear and black with a one finger, tan head. Good lacing as you drink.

S: Strong coffee, burnt and roasted malt and a touch of vanilla. Coffee dominates so no hop aroma.

T: Coffee is the main flavor and heavy roasted and burnt malt give a heavy hit. Some acrid flavors. A vanilla taste in the background is welcome and a touch of black cherry and currants too. Some hops ad to bittering but not to flavor much.

M: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation.

D: A nice porter that is hit with a heavy dose of coffee. Coffee lovers will cheer this one. The coffee is delicious in this beer which is the best coffee porter I have tried. It is a great blend but I would have a hard time having more than one of these in a row.

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Photo of dudecandle
3.81/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Black, subtly brown body with light colored, thin head, good retention and lacing.

S: This is the dirtiest, over-roasted coffee I have ever smelled, as it has created a bastard child with smoke to make the smell here. Vanilla is detectable in the background. I'm not sure I've ever smelled a porter so potent, but it's not necessarily in the best of ways.

T: Dark fruit shows up quite prominent up front, paired with the coffee. The smoke is moved to the background along with some sweet chocolate, but the smoke is still definitely potent. There seems to be a subtle herbal hop on the finish, as well.

M: Quite crisp, with a good, smooth body, and a nice, long smokey finish.

D: What to say? If you can't appreciate an over-roasted coffee, this is probably not the beer for you. The smell is a bit too forward, but the flavors are big and quite balanced. If you can get past the dirt, it's a pretty good porter.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: In the glass was your standard midnight black coloring topped off by a 1 finger, weakly retaining, fizzy tan head that left a poor lacing.

S: A beautiful aromatic sense of freshly cracked dark coffee beans is first encountered on the nose. Most coffee beers smell like brewed coffee, this is truly freshly cracked and grounded giving you a sense of smelling a bag full of roasted delight straight from the coffee specialty shop. Dry, earthy with a good sense of strength and lingering retention.

T: The coffee comes through nicely with a freshly roasted nature, very smooth with just the faintest hint of dry creamer and dark sweetness. The vanilla beans adds a nice experience along with the fresh roastiness offering a gentle lacing of soft residual coffee grounds lingering about on the tongue after the swallow.

M: A nice edginess for texture is first experienced in the beginning with a slight creamy nature. The body is medium, while the finish finds a touch of French vanilla sweetness on the fade.

D: A very nice and smooth drinking experience. Definitly one of their better beers. You cant go wrong with a six pack here, and probably be disappointed that you didn't get more.

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Photo of shoude
4.54/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured from bottle into a sam adams beer glass

pours very dark brown/black, nice foamy caramel colored head, the smell is divine like very good strong coffee, the taste is coffee with a hint of sweetness, the finish fades quickly and dry, you just want to keep on sipping to get the taste back

I'm a big fan of this beer and will be picking up more of it to share

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Photo of mullenite
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glassware - Oversized brandy snifter

Appearance - Pours a pitch black with almost no head. What little head there was fell very quickly and was a nice light brown color. Not really any lacing of note that stuck.

Nose - Very coffee forward in the aroma. There is some vanilla in there as well but it's not the typical vanilla you get from beans or extract, it is much closer to the vanilla that comes from oak.

Taste - VERY coffee dominant. Very dark roasted, almost to the point of being burnt. Nothing else really comes through except the coffee. I have to give them credit for being able to pull off such a dark roasted coffee without getting any of the catty/ammonia flavor that can come with it.

Mouthfeel - Medium body, a little thinner than I like but the carbonation is perfect.

Overall - I enjoyed it but would probably not seek it out again. It was very similar to Swamp Head's Midnight Oil but with a little less body. I would rather drink the one brewed less than 3 miles from my house.

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Photo of VenaCarva
4.57/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Keeping everything in mind, I am not a fan of coffee.I picked this up in a "make your own six pack" deal, but I am giving a fair review based off someone who does drink and enjoy coffee.

A- It looked very impressive. It had a nice dark, thick look to it. While pouring it down the side of the glass, it created an almost marble look before evening out, but I'm strange, so whatever.

S- Smells exactly like coffee. Nothing more, nothing less.

T- Again, tastes 100% like coffee, only... it's beer. Awesome.

M- Pleasant. It was thick, but not syrup like. Very smooth.

D- Again, for someone who doesn't like coffee, I found myself at the end saying "I could drink another."

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Photo of fastpass17
4.13/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Rich brown, frothy foam rich head.

S: Roasted espresso bean, light sweetness in the end.

T: Bitter coffee start, dark chocolate in the middle, no apparent hoppiness, and a round maltiness.

M: Coats the mouth completely, leaves coffee in the back of the throat.

D: Has session ability, nice and enjoyable.

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Photo of MaltistLupulist
2.93/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

On tap at Pizzeria Paradiso (Dupont Circle) in Washington, D.C.; served in a nonic glass.

Appearance is pretty dark, considerably more so than a standard porter, but nonetheless a shade shy of what you'd a expect a stout to look like. A good amount of short-lived head resembling raw umber yields feeble lacing.

The nose is an assorted mix of predictable and unexpected, even random and whimsical, aromas: dark-roasted coffee, some dark fruits, some ham (smokiness), some vinosity, and some sharp funk/rancidity. While I'm normally quite keen on sour ales, I'm concerned as to the presence of aromatics characteristic of that style in something as different as a coffee porter. I suspect the vanilla component plays some role in this olfactory confusion, in particular its interplay with the coffee component, which may work well in a caffe latte but not when fermented grains become a variable, at least not in this case.

My concerns are confirmed as I take my first sip: all the aromatic components have their counterparts in the flavor, but, surprisingly, the vinosity and sourness, while unusual, are far less offensive than the coffee component, which is harsh, astringent, and grimace-inducing. Some roastiness in terms of the malt itself, rather than the coffee, is detectable but obscured by that of the java (hispaniola, actually). I'm ambivalent as to the sourness--one moment I like it, the next I don't--but the peculiar combination of fruit and funk is an intriguing and not inharmonious one. The coffee element, however, is uniformly offensive (although it mellows a bit in the finish), and, as this is the primary flavor, spoils what may otherwise have been a tasty beer. The burnt coffee flavor in this porter is enough of a repellent on its own, but its incompatability with the sourness of the beer renders this a near-drainpour.

Medium-bodied, lightly-to-moderately carbonated. Mouthfeel could be described as silky, but I'm too busy scowling to pay much attention. Drinkability is poor not because of any alcohol detection but because of the reasons described above; if you can tolerate the harshness, I imagine you can have a few of these without exceeding "tipsy" on the inebriation scale.

In summary, I'm glad I tried this at a half-price happy hour rather than committing to a sixer--I'd ogled this beer many times on the shelves of my local Whole Foods--but I'm extremely unlikely to ever try it again. I suppose I should never say never, though; my review of Founders Breakfast Stout was likewise damning, but I have come to realize it can be quite toothsome with a few months or even weeks on it. Perhaps the same is true of Alta Gracia, but even if this is the case, I doubt a compromise can be reached between the disparate coffee and lambic/sour ale traits of this beer--it's almost as if it has a split personality.

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Photo of runner72
3.41/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark, ruby red, creamy head, laces the glass

S - Coffee, vanilla, burnt... something a little off on the smell

T - coffee, a little burnt/smoked taste. malty. coffee on the after taste

M - malty, a little tingly with the amount of carbonation

D - A little off to my tastes. The mix of coffee and vanilla seems to be missing something plus the smokey taste

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Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

a - Pours a dark brown/black, where the brown is only apparent in the light. Small amount of light brown head, little rentention and carbonation.

s - Coffee coffee coffee. Also small hints of chocolate, roasted malts, and maybe a little cream.

t - Tastes strong of coffee and lighter of cream and roasted malts. Nice creamy/smooth taste to it.

m - Medium body with little carbonation, this felt good and was both smooth and creamy.

d - Overall this was a very solid coffee porter. I have had a few coffee stouts I would prefer, but the smoothness and creamy flavor this has makes me think I could drink a couple of these, and I would definitely go for this again.

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Photo of u2carew
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz Long neck. Consumed 1/14/10

A) Pours with a beige head about a finger thick. Opaque body. Lacing is thin and semi-sticky.
S) Coffee. Roasted grain. Light vanilla aroma. Bread.
T) Coffee, but more like vanilla espresso bean all the way through. Bread in liquid form. Finishes with an earthy grit and smokiness.
M) Lightly fizzy. Smooth. Full body.
D) A delicious porter. Well crafted with great flavor.

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Photo of turnstile
4.02/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Jet black with a light brown head which quickly fades into a sparse film. Sticky lacing clings to the glass till the end.

Smell: A strong aroma of dark-roasted coffee beans, hickory, and smoky malts. Dark fruits also present but nothing specific comes to mind immediately. Second time around after agitation, grassy aromas come to the front. Maple/brown sugar notes after warming a little.

Taste: Again, dark roasted coffee with some hints of ginger. Sweet malts with a slight residual bitterness. A little bit of dark chocolate comes through as the brew warms. The taste fits the porter style well.

Mouthfeel: Medium-heavy body with moderatel carbonation. Makes for a decent chewy winter beer without the residual syrupy-ness.

Drinkability: I think that coffee porters are the type of dark beer where you can enjoy a few, but the coffee aromas/flavors here are pretty strong and leave me content with just one. It's fairly heavy body makes it filling, too.

Compared to other coffee porters, the coffee content is exceptionally strong but unfortunately overpowers the vanilla - it failed to make itself present. Overall, this brew was well balanced and accomplished what it set out to do. Certainly one of the better coffee beers out there. Extra points for its certified-organic status.

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Photo of Overlord
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not a big fan of coffee brews, per se, but this hit the spot!

Pours a rich creamy black with a surprisingly thin head, given its viscous appearance. What little foam there is a deep tan color.

Smells like roasted coffee with a hint of vanilla-y chocolate. Just a hint. Mostly it's coffee. But, it's pleasant, roasty coffee, rather than bitter or acrid.

Taste is nicely pleasant coffee melded with a creamy, velvety mouthfeel and a bit of balancing roasted malt and vanilla. The chocolate of the aroma has vanished into a coffee flavor.

Really quite pleasant. I was surprised I liked it as much as I did.

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Photo of indiapaleale
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pour - pretty much pitch black. When held to the light you can make it some brown but this is some dark stuff. The head is relatively thin and coffee/tan color. Beer this dark makes for a nice reflection in the glass.

Aroma - very strong coffee aroma. This is the smell you get when you stick your face in a bag of fresh roasted coffee beans. I love it! It makes me think of the morning and breakfast and nice hot dark roast coffee. Other than the coffee smell I can't say much else stands out, maybe a tad bit of the vanilla. This is dark beer and dark roasted coffee lovers dream as far as the smell goes.

Taste - roasted malt, dark roast coffee, bitter coffee grounds, bitter chocolate, cocoa and a bit of burnt toast. Along with dominating coffee flavor is the nice subtle vanilla flavor that this beer has. Its nothing too overwhelming but adds another element to this dark brew. There is also a charcoal or carbon flavor to it that is hard to shake its almost acidic. If you think hard this could just be some seriously dark roasted coffee. I could drink this as an iced coffee in the morning, that would make time go by nicely.

Overall - if you like dark roasted anything than this is the beer for you. Its got a lot of toasty/roasty malt flavors that are bitter on the tongue and combine nicely with some serious coffee flavor.

Would I buy more of it? - I'd love to try this on tap or cask (does anyone ever stick some coffee beans in a cask with their beer?). Very solid coffee beer.

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Photo of Bung
4.18/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. Solid dark brown pour with a whisp of cream colored bubbles that maintained for a while.
Aroma is pretty much a light cold coffee with some french vanilla creamer.
Taste is similar with some roast malt to go along with the coffee and vanilla creamer. This is a simple but quality coffee taste. Faint hints of caramel and cocoa, but mostly vanilla.
It is a little sweet, but not quite too much. Lighter medium body, definetely not real filling and very drinkable. Abv must be at a reasonable level.
I could see this being a frequent night cap if readily available. Probably wouldn't want to drink 3 or 4 though, but who knows.
Otter Creek makes some solid drinkable brews and this is another. A must try for the coffee inclined brew drinker.

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Photo of Billolick
3.82/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle, twist off cap, no freshness info offered. Pours darn near black, dark tan head, shows lengthy retention, tight and long lasting, leaves the expected tongues of sticky lace. Bright nose of black coffee and bitter chocolate. MOre strong coffee notes, light vanilla and again ample dark and bitter chocolate notes. Decent mouthfeel, give em points for the organic purity, but a bit too much of a java flavor jolt here, unlikely I'd ever go for much more of this full flavor cofee infused brew, hence the lowered and rare (for me) lowered dinkability score.

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Wolaver's Alta Gracia Coffee Porter from Otter Creek Brewing
3.92 out of 5 based on 780 ratings.
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