The Afternoon Beer Break: Topa Topa Brewing Co Howler

Well, well, well – would you look at that? We’ve made it through another week and, oh yes, it’s time for another beer review. Today’s is one that I would never have run across were it not for a fortuitous trade, and it introduced me to something I’d not experienced before – an IPA brewed with coffee. The beer in question? The Topa Topa Brewing Co Howler.

When beers incorporate coffee, they tend to be of a darker nature – think stouts and porters, or maybe a dark ale. IPAs, on the other hand, tend towards the brighter flavors (sometimes quite tropical). However, when you think about the bitterness the hops impart to an IPA – and the bitterness you can get from coffee – well, it’s not just that strange of an idea.

Pouring the Topa Topa Brewing Co Howler out into a glass, you’ve got something a few values darker than you’d normally expect from an IPA, and you have some very definite impressions of coffee on the nose. When you drink it, you do get hit with the coffee up front, but it ends up coming across much differently than it would in a stout, particularly once it fades into that hoppy IPA goodness.

Though the Topa Topa Brewing Co Howler does tend towards the typical IPA notes and flavors (which it should, as a double IPA) there is another note hiding out there, a somewhat chocolate-reminiscent one. This is not that different from how you can sometimes taste chocolate in an unflavored coffee, and I think is definitely the result of the Ethiopian beans used in this brew.

Now for the bad news – unless you’re near one of their two California taprooms, you’re unlikely to run across the Topa Topa Brewing Co Howler in your area. That said, if you do manage to find one – or can get one in a trade – and you like coffee, give this one a try, as it’s rather unlike what you’ve had before.

Tasting Notes

  • Hazy amber hue
  • Tropical nose
  • Definitely coffee up front – but much different than in a stout
  • Sort of a bubbly/foamy texture on the tongue
  • Mild chocolate note like you?d get from a good coffee

Details from Topa Topa Brewing Company

  • ABV: 8.3%
  • Style: DIPA
  • IBU: 60

Patrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

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