Beer Review: Toms River Brewing’s Top O’ the Morning Coffee Stout

Name: Top O’ the Morning Coffee Stout
Brewing Company: Toms River Brewing
Location: Toms River, NJ
Style: Stout – Coffee
ABV: 5.1%

“A smooth, extremely drinkable and balanced Coffee Stout – one of the better I’ve had, especially of the non-barrel-aged variety.”

From Tom River Brewing’s beer list/untappd description:

Coffee before beer or sometimes (if it’s that kind of day) beer before coffee. In that spirit, we collaborated with Bubby’s Beanery right here in Toms River to create Top O’ The Morning. This beer was brewed with Bubby’s blend of Honduran roasts, lending flavors of sweet milk chocolate, cashew and caramel. We then added lactose to carry the acidity of the coffee and to provide heft and mouthfeel. The infusion of robust coffee flavors provides a jump start to your day…morning, noon or night.

Toms River Brewing is a NJ brewery I’ve touched upon briefly here at the Tap Takeover and will again in the future. (Hint: I’ll be posting one of my “brewery spotlight” posts later in the week.) I’ve been seeing cans of their beer in some of my local stores over the better part of the last year and I finally stopped at their brewery recently, during a rainy day on the way back from Chegg’s in Beach Haven. The second beer I had that day is what asserted itself in my taste buds with a pint of deliciousness and has me here writing about it.

On to the beer…

I knew I wanted something a little darker, I saw what Toms River had available via untappd before we even left our trip and the description above really had me intrigued.

The beer I was given in the very interesting glass is dark as dark can be. Only if you look very closely can you see the black Toms River Brewing logo on glass. In other words, the beer looked the part of coffee stout. The aroma of roasted malts that wafted from the glass to my nose was another good sign.

Sometimes you can tell from the first sip of beer everything you need to know about it. That’s exactly what happened with Top O’ the Morning, I got the full flavor of stout and coffee in that first sip and it was delightful. The lactose brings a very welcome sweetness to the beer, adding to the sweetness from the roasted malts and balancing the coffee’s natural bitter elements. There’s also a pleasant lacing of chocolate throughout each sip of beer.  All these flavors blend very well together.

Image courtesy of Toms River Brewing’s Facebook

I’ve had plenty of coffee stouts where the bitterness from the coffee, or overly roasted beans and malts are very off-putting. Toms River skirted that issue completely. The finish on this beer was so good, I found it a little difficult not to consume it in one quick gulp. If I can really level any criticism at the beer (and it is very minor at that), a smidge more bitterness would have been welcome. However, I tend to drink my coffee fairly sweet, so the sweetness in this beer from the lactose is a nice mirror to how I typically drink my coffee.

The beer has the perfect density and feel for the style, too. That element, coupled with the balanced taste, make this one of the more enjoyable coffee stouts I’ve had in quite a while. The craftsmanship and quality of this beer have me eager to try more beers from Toms River Brewing in the future

Beer and coffee are two of my favorite beverages, which is why I love a good coffee stout. With Top O’ the Morning, Toms River Brewing blended the flavors of these two beverages together in great harmony.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4.25-bottle cap rating.

 

Beer Review: 2SP’s Wawa Winter Reserve Coffee Stout

Name: Wawa Winter Reserve Coffee Stout
Brewing Company: 2SP Brewing Company in collaboration with Wawa
Location: Aston, PA
Style: Stout – Oatmeal / Coffee Stout
ABV: 6.5%

A Pennsylvania Icon and a great Pennsylvania brewery come together to make a tasty stout. 

From the 2SP’s page for the beer:

Working with Wawa’s own coffee wizard, Michael McLaughlin, we brewed a oatmeal stout and steeped it with Wawa’s Reserve Winter Blend Coffee, an exclusive handpicked roast that has flavors of sweet clove, dark chocolate, and graham crackers. Our brewer, Bob Barrar who, like Wawa, is a Delaware County native, and has won over 30 Great American Beer Fest Medals and 11 World Beer Cups, chose to brew an oatmeal stout because of its balanced sweetness that will showcase the full range of flavors from the Reserve Blend.

Just about everybody in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region (PA/NJ/DE/VA specifically) of the United States knows Wawa. The store is a cultural icon and staple of the greater Philadelphia region, South Jersey and even Central Jersey. For those not in the know, nationally, think 7-11, but much, much better. I grew up in North Jersey where there weren’t many Wawas but once I moved a little south to Middlesex, then Somerset County, there were plenty of Wawas near me and I’ve been getting their doughnuts, breakfast sandwiches, and most importantly and relevant to this review, their coffee since. So when 2SP announced they were brewing a Coffee Stout with Wawa coffee last year, I wanted some. Demand was high and I didn’t get any. Well, they saw how popular the beer was and brewed more (and different varieties) for Winter 2019, which brings me to this beer.

So…the beer. Pop of the can and it pours a nice black into the glass. There’s a thin khaki/tan head to the beer that dissipates fairly quickly. In terms of aroma, I’m introduced to a beer with mild hints of coffee, but it mostly smells like I’d expect a stout to smell. No complaints there.

My second introduction to the beer, the taste, is quite pleasing. I get ample stout flavors – roasted malts, smoothness from the oatmeal. There’s definite coffee flavors, too, but not overpowering. Mild spiciness akin to the cloves mentioned in the description, maybe a little bit of nutmeg? The short of it – I like what I’m tasting.

Image courtesy of MyBeerBuzz via untappd

First things first, this is tasty, well-made beer. Nothing else about the beer would work unless the base beer – a smooth and tasty Oatmeal Stout – wasn’t well-crafted. I typically have strayed away from flavored coffee over the past few years, aside from throwing a few dashes of cinnamon in the coffee I brew at home, so I was a tad nervous that flavored coffee could potentially sway my experience. Well….the coffee element, and the flavored elements in that coffee, of the beer is really nice, not overpowering and the beer has a good finish. I suspect the oatmeal and graham cracker flavors of the coffee help to give the overall profile of the beer a harmonious balance of flavors.

Wawa has such a loyal customer base and beer drinkers and coffee drinkers overlap quite strongly, that this beer could be seen as a novelty beer that would sell regardless of quality. Fortunately, the beer is pretty damned tasty. Bob Barrar, the head brewer at 2SP has a great reputation, has won several awards and that quality of craftsmanship shows in every drop of this beer. Put simply, this is very good beer.

Highly recommended, link to 3.75 bottle-cap Untappd check in.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Oat of this World (Level 7)

This velvety smooth, roasty style will take your taste buds to another planet. Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast anymore. That’s 35 different beers with the style of Stout – Oatmeal or Stout – Imperial Oatmeal. Try 5 more for Level 8!

Beer Review: Two Evil Saigon Scooter Selfie

Name: Twin Evil Saigon Scooter Selfie
Brewing Company: Two Roads Brewing Company / Evil Twin Brewing Company
Location: Stratford, CT / Copenhagen, Denmark
Style: Stout – Coffee
ABV: 9.5%

From Two Roads Brewing’sWeb site:

For our latest Two Evil collaborative brew, Two Roads’ Phil and Evil Twin’s Jeppe sampled and became enamored with a popular Vietnamese coffee drink called “Ca Phe Sua Da” (cah-fe sah dah). Thick & decadent, like a coffee milkshake, it was the inspiration for this Vietnamese-style Coffee Stout. They then traveled to the chaotic, scooter packed streets of Saigon to meet up with good friends at Heart Of Darkness Brewery. It was there that the brewers created the first batch of this collaborative beer.

So raise a glass (or can), snap a selfie and enjoy a taste of Vietnam!

Two Roads is one of the most consistent breweries in the Northeast, maybe in the United States. Of the nearly 20 distinct beers I’ve had from them, the lowest untappd rating from me was 3.5 bottle caps and that was only one beer, while the vast majority are 4 bottle caps and above. Evil Twin is just as respectable in the beer world and the two companies (mainly Phil Markowski from Two Roads and Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø from Evil Twin) have collaborated multiple times under the “Two Evil” banner to brew some great beers. This coffee stout; however, might be their best collaboration yet. At least it is my favorite.

Coffee stouts are a popular style and one of my favorites so knowing what I stated above, I had to get my hands on this one. On the other hand, sometimes a coffee stout can be far too bitter, largely from the over-roasted coffee. So what about this beer?

As you’d expect from a stout made with coffee, the beer pours very black and I appreciate the thick body from the beer as it filled up my Two Roads pint glass. The head is a little creamy looking, too. Or, to put it another way, on quick glance and in a different glass, one might think this is coffee. There’s a nice sweet coffee aroma coming off the beer and I settle into the couch and take a sip. This. Is. Good.

This beer is everything a stout, specifically a coffee stout, should be. For my palette, it hits all the pleasing notes a coffee stout ought to hit, while managing to strum a few new chords and notes. The coffee flavor doesn’t overtake the beer, it is a harmonious marriage. The presence of brown sugar could potentially make this cloyingly sweet, but nope. The sweetness is perfect. Add in the cream / condensed milk flavor from the Ca Phe Sua Da the beer is attempting to mimic or evoke in one’s palette and you have a stout that is the perfect marriage of familiar and new.

I had just worked a very long day (13 hours for a quarter end) and considering the time of year (cold weather January), I couldn’t think of a more perfect beer to enjoy for dessert.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4.25-bottle cap rating.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Better Together (Level 8)

What happens when you take two or more amazing breweries, throw them into the tank and let them ferment together? An amazing collaboration beer, that’s what! Cheers to working together to create the perfect flavor. That’s 40 different beers that have been brewed as a collaboration.