Oh, dessert beers. So promising and yet, so disappointing. Maybe it’s a matter of expectations, but dessert beers usually leave me a bit overwhelmed. I love chocolate eclairs and cinnamon buns, so a chocolate éclair and cinnamon bun beer should be great, right? I like the idea of dessert beers, but in practice, after you spend more than a few minutes with a sugar bomb laden with candy canes and cocoa nibs, it just becomes a bit too much. Sort of like Ska music.
Koko Buni, a winter seasonal from Creature Comforts, sounds like a dessert beer. It’s a milk porter brewed with cocoa nibs, toasted coconut, vanilla beans, coffee…all of which sounds sweet, and it smells like milk chocolate when I pour it into the glass so I’m thinking I’m about to drink a candy bar. But I couldn’t be more wrong.
Sure, Koko Buni delivers huge milk chocolate notes up front, with a velvety mouthfeel, and then some sort of dark fruit kicks in (maybe raisins) before a wave of light, coffee bitterness sweeps through. After I take a few sips, the chocolate takes a back seat and the coconut steps forward, all nutty and subtle. That sounds like there are a whole bunch of sweet things going on in this beer, but I swear, Koko Buni is not a dessert beer by any means.
It’s balanced almost to a fault, and not overwhelming at all. What I’m saying is, there isn’t a hint of Ska in this beer. Typically, if you throw chocolate or vanilla or coffee or coconut into a beer, most of the time I’m ready to move onto something a little more subtle after a few sips, but I could drink one Koko Buni after another. It’s everything I love about a well-executed porter. Rich but not sticky. Roasted, only a little bitter. Chocolatey without being sweet.
Creature Comforts partnered with Condor Chocolates, who’s given the brewery the cocoa nibs for the beer since 2014. This year, Condor made a chocolate bar inspired by the beer—it’s dark milk chocolate, so it’s sweet up front with a little bitterness on the backend. Balanced. Like the beer.
Word on the street is Creature Comforts is making a double Koko Buni. Cool. I’d also like to see this thing barrel aged. But then, why fix what ain’t broke?
Brewery: Creature Comforts
City: Athens, Georgia
Style: Milk porter
Availability: Four packs through winter