Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Perkulator Coffee Dopplebock

Dark Horse Brewing Co.
Marshall, MI

Style: Doppelbock

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

It’s time for the Perkulator …

The percolations are imminent in my latest review, which is a unique coffee-flavored dopplebock from Michigan’s Dark Horse Brewing. It seems that I’ve been reviewing a number of coffee-centric brews in recent months, which is perfect for someone like Nigel who prefers coffee and craft beer over weed and crack when it comes to addictions. Be it coffee stouts, porters, or bocks, Nigel loves to have the best of both worlds when it comes to his beverages, and with increasing frequency, my friends in the craft beer industry have properly obliged.

The name Perkulator (intentionally misspelled by the brewer, not a Nigel typo) reminds Nigel of two completely different things. The first would be my days as a wee tot, traveling to a rustic cabin in the Northwoods where an old enamel stove-top percolator coffee pot served tea and coffee to my parents on chilly autumn mornings. Fond memories indeed.

The other memory is that damn dance song that came out about a decade ago, the one that had the annoying chorus of “it’s time for the percolator” (that’s likely the title of said song, too, since I believe it’s the only words uttered throughout a six minute track). A bit of research by Nigel shows that this song was by the group Cajmere, and really wasn’t a song at all, but rather the standard techno-dance crap that was all electronic beats with a one-hook chorus. Nigel’s early college days were unfortunately marred by many run-ins with this and a plethora of other horrid techno-pop-dance shit songs at various house parties, clubs, and bars. Uh … not that I was drinking during college or anything …

So, as I try to get that awful loop out of my head, I’ll crank some death metal on the ol’ iTunes, stare at the demonic creature holding a coffee mug on the side of my bottle of Perkulator, and proceed with said review. After all, it’s time for the Perkulator, time for the Perkulator, time for the … DAMMIT!

Perkulator pours a nice dark brown, sort of like an iced coffee (how convenient). A mild whitish head of about a half inch quickly dissipates, leaving a creamy ring lace at the side of the glass throughout. There’s a surprising amount of carbonation in the brew, and not much in the way of sedimentation … a bit of a surprise given the typically thick, rich characteristics of the style.

Initial aromas are coffee, yet another shocking discovery made by Nigel the beer explorer. In terms of coffee brew aromas, I’d rank this sort of in the middle, as it’s a pleasant enough aroma, but not nearly as satisfying as some of the better thick stouts that I’ve had. If I were a gymnastics judge I’d rate the aroma 6.25 out of 10, but then again if I was a gymnastics judge, I’d have to sacrifice my heterosexuality. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The flavor is very good, but like the aroma, a bit weaker than some of the wonderful coffee-based brews I’ve had, which, for the 19th time in the last 20 reviews, leaves Nigel a bit torn. I’m going with three rather than four mugs for the simple fact that my biggest gripe would be that Perkulator isn’t much in terms of a dopplebock. Is it a good coffee based brew? You bet. Is it a good dopplebock? Not really, to be honest. Do I often ask myself questions in the middle of my reviews? Yes. Yes I do. Initial bites of iced coffee, sort of a medium-bodied roast hit the tongue, followed by a lesser malty profile that has some smoky elements to it. What is lacking in terms of a coffee brew and particularly in terms of a dopplebock is the thick, sugary sweetness. While some sweet notes of caramel, molasses, and dark brown sugar are present in small doses at various intervals, they aren’t nearly as present as they should be. Also, at various intervals the pleasant flavor of roasted coffee turns into the dreaded flavor of stale coffee grounds, though this is only an occasional phenomenon. Overall this is a very good brew, surprisingly light and drinkable given its label as a coffee dopplebock. However, it falls just a hair short of being good enough to rate anything higher than slightly above average. Medium bodied and smooth on the palate, Perkulator is extremely drinkable and lovers of dark beer could consider it a session brew, though I’m totally clueless as to what the ABV is (the style would lead me to believe it’s a bit high, but I can’t verify that).

Ultimately, Perkulator is a good beer that is worth a shot for lovers of dark beer and coffee. However, it lacks some of the key ingredients that would place it in the next tier of coffee brews, namely that thick, sugary sweetness that we’ve all come to know and love in this style. It’s worth a try if you should see it at your local retailer, and is very reasonably priced at around $7-8.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on November 4, 2008.
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