Lagers, session IPAs, pilsners, wheat beers…these are the standard summer releases from craft breweries, who look to lighten things up when the mercury rises. It’s lawnmower beer season.
Catawba has chosen a completely different route with their King Coconut, a jet black porter with all of the roasted, chocolate notes that you’d expect from this style. Porters are typically quaffed in the dead of winter, preferably in front of a fireplace while a storm drops six inches of fresh on the nearest skiable mountain. But as the name implies, Catawba ages King Coconut on a mountain of toasted coconut for several weeks to add an additional layer of tropical sweetness and justify the palm trees on the label.
Catawba has called this beer a “candy bar in a can,” and it’s definitely on the sweeter side of things, delivering a heavy hit of cocoa. The coconut, on the other hand, is understated. Just a mild hint of the fruit in the nose and taste. I think it’s just there to provide a bit of whimsy to this typically stuffy style of beer. I appreciate Catawba’s restraint in the use of coconut, because I’m typically not a huge fan of the vile fruit. Yes, I said vile. I’m not sure why anyone would want to eat tiny shreds of paper, but hey, to each his own.
I’m happy to say that it all works seamlessly in the King Coconut—chocolate, coconut, and roasted coffee all working hand in hand in this a-typical summer beer that is somehow reminiscent of the Coke Floats I used to beg my parents for when I was a kid. Now there’s an idea. If you truly want to turn King Coconut into a summer treat, take a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drop it right into a pint of this porter. Now that’s a summer beer.
Is this the can of brew you’ll reach for after mowing the lawn, or while tubing the river? Probably not. But King Coconut is built to pair with barbecue, or a campfire, or your neighbor’s annual luau. Yeah, put on a coconut bra and show up to that party with a sixer of King Coconut. Seems like a summery thing to do to me.