|Brewery:||Terrapin Beer Co.|
|Style:||Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout|
|Appearance:||Deep brown, almost black|
|Aroma:||Roasted coffee & malts, hints of chocolate|
|Flavor:||Medium-Roast Coffee With Semi-Sweet Chocolate|
|Availability:||Seasonal — Winter|
|Pairs With:||Grilled Steak Topped With Blue Cheese; Cheesecake|
It wasn’t very long ago that Georgia was a wasteland for craft beer. Very little was made there, and even less made it out of the state. That has changed over the last few years, spurred on by the success of a fairly young, Athens-based brewery. In the decade they have been open, the Terrapin Beer Company has built up quite an impressive roster of beers, accompanied by plenty of medals.
Perfect for the winter season, their Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout is a pleasant, warming brew that has drawn accolades from beer drinkers and critics alike. Brewed with coffee roasted by Jittery Joe’s Coffee just down the road from the Terrapin brewery in Athens, Georgia, the blend is a custom mix specifically for Terrapin. It is available for sale online, so you can treat your non beer-drinking friends to a taste of this acclaimed mix.
Packaged in 12-ounce bottles, the beer pours out thick and dark, brown bordering on black in color. It is dark enough that light will not shine through it, a great look. It creates a high, thick head that is mocha in color. It takes a while to subside, and the beer leaves good lacing throughout the glass. It is best served in a shifter glass, but is acceptable in a pint glass as well.
The aroma is mostly of bitter roasted coffee, not necessarily overpowering but clearly the strong point of the brew. This is followed by roasted malts, with hints of chocolate and cream supporting these aromas. The beer comes in at 8.1% alcohol by volume, on the lower end of the Imperial Stout threshold, and this alcohol is hidden in the aroma, covered up by the coffee and chocolate. There are other slight hints of aromas such as toffee and marshmallow that can come through as it warms up to its desired drinking temperature – this is a beer you let warm up slightly after you take it out of the fridge to release its full potential.
The alcohol is also hidden in the taste. The first sip will taste like medium-roast coffee blended with semi-sweet chocolate. There is a clean oatmeal stout taste that runs underneath this, enough to remind the drinker that it is a beer, with sweet and roasted malts. No real hops kick anywhere in the brew. There is a bit of heat in the flavor from the alcohol, you’ll feel it much more than you will taste it. It has a nice, dry finish, with a touch of bitterness from the roast.
This is most definitely a wintery beer. It is has an incredibly thick and creamy mouth feel, and a heavy body with slight carbonation, enough to keep it lively but not to take away from the creaminess. The creaminess comes from the oatmeal stout part of the beer, as they tend to be much smoother than a plain stout.
Overall, Terrapin Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout is a well-balanced coffee stout that is a great baseline for the style. There are definitely more flavorful examples of the style around, but this is among the best as far as balance goes, and is a great brew to use to introduce someone to this type of beer style.
Terrapin was founded by John Cochran and Brian “Spike” Buckowski in 2002, and has risen to the top of the list for Georgia-based breweries. The Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout has won on the international level, while the brewery as a whole boasts 17 medal wins since 2008 for a variety of beers, with their Hopsecutioner IPA being the most successful in front of judges. They have five year-round beers, four seasonal brews, and a slew of side projects and limited releases. They are also avid collaborators, working with numerous American breweries as well as connecting overseas with breweries such as De Proef Brouwerij in Belgium and Thornbridge Brewery in the United Kingdom.
Their most intriguing beers are products such as So Fresh & So Green, Green, a beer that has the same recipe on a yearly basis except for hops: every year, they fly in a batch of fresh-picked hops from the Yakima Valley to be used immediately in the beer, and every year, the type of hops they use changes to provide the drinker with a taste of how changing hops changes the overall flavor profile of the beer.
The brewery is also heavily involved in the community, taking part in and sponsoring festivals such as the Decatur Green Fest and Terrapin Twilight. They also encourage beer education, hosting the Lupulin Ladies, a group aimed to increase the presence of females in the craft beer world.