Blue Collar Brew – The Bruery Mash & Coconut Imperial Brown Ale – 2017

I was reading the Beer Street Journal online when an article caught my eye. It was about a new release from The Bruery called Mash & Coconut. Read it here. (Note: I missed the details at the bottom.) I remember being left out of the Oskar Blues Death by Coconut bear from last year. I wanted to experience that coconut flavor with picking out any coconut particles from my teeth. I decided to truck it out to Binny’s in Plainfield to see what I could see.

Once at the store, I grabbed a cart and wended my way to the massive beer section. I hadn’t traveled too far before I found it. Mash & Coconut right next to the White Chocolate with Cherries aged in bourbon barrels with cacao nibs, vanilla beans and tart cherries. And hot dog water. I grabbed the Coconut beer but didn’t like the price. I gave the guy at the register a twenty and a five. I received 6 cents in change. Sheesh! Once again, dolt that I am, I left my glasses at home and couldn’t quite make out the ABV on the label. The text color was too similar to the background color. I knew I’d drink it. I haven’t drain-poured a beer yet.

Almost two hours on the road and 60 miles round trip I was back home safe and sound with my one bottle of coconut beer. Who travels those distances for beer? I do. You can also ask the same question to anyone who attends Dark Lord Day at Floyds in Indiana.

The Mash part of the beer at hand was the Bruery’s base imperial brown ale or barleywine. They then line up a bunch of bourbon barrels in which to store it. To some they add a variety of add-ons or flavor enhancers. This one was enhanced with coconut. That’s why I bought this bottle.

Let’s crack this bitch open and see what it tastes like.

The beer poured with a color that looked like tea but in the glass, it was quite dark. The pour brought up a nice head of an inch plus which dissipated to a foam ring around the periphery of the inside of the glass. The aroma was heady and strong with a hint of coconut and dark malts. Looks like I’m in store for another palate pounding.

The first sip took my breath away. I felt the heat build up in my chest as the charge went down my gullet. What was I expecting? I wasn’t quite ready for this.

The mouthfeel is big and silky and there’s a noticeable flavor of coconut. However, here at the beginning of this first glassful, other subtle flavors are overwhelmed by the huge alcohol taste. The bourbon flavor is present as well as the oak. Man oh man, this beer is quite kick in the chops. I can’t believe I bought another alcohol bomb. I’ll definitely be more mindful in the future.

Now, about a half dozen sips in, the flavors seemed to calm down a bit. Each sip had the silky initial texture, then the sweetness of the dark malts, a bit of coconut and finally, the swallow that reminded me of the old yellow Listerine taste from 1960-something. Whew!

Many brewers experimented with all different varieties of hops in beer over the last few years. The hop heads loved ’em. When you saw an Imperial IPA on the shelf, I bet your first thoughts were about what strain of hops the brewer used. With this Mash beer, I wonder what the target audience was when they devised the recipe and finalized it.

Some of you may enjoy getting slapped in the tongue with a wet sock full of alcohol. These high alcohol beers have fallen out of favor with me. But that doesn’t mean I’ve given them up. While it doesn’t have the corn nastiness that the DKML had, this beer at least has some redeeming flavors, each of which you can pick out once you get passed the alcohol bigness. I can’t imagine what the occasion would be that you’d run out and specifically buy a Mash & Coconut beer for it. Perhaps for some dreadfully cold evening in late January where the temps are below 10°. You’d be in your smoking jacket with your pipe and a glassful of Mash & C while you peruse the day’s Wall Street Journal. Maybe not quite like that. It’d be a hearty drink after spending time skiing, ice skating or other outdoor winter sport. It’ll warm you up right away.

But maybe there’s a 3Fs Dark Lord or Surly Darkness or Bruery Black Tuesday vertical tasting event at someone’s house. A 750 of Mash & Coconut brought to pass around would fit right in and you’d earn massive points from the other beer geeks in your circle.

Overall, Mash & Coconut is everything it says it is on the label, although the fact that “the coconut character natively derived from extensive bourbon barrel-aging” is debatable. We care about the taste, not the process. Next time, we’ll pay better attention to a label that warns, “CONTAINS ALCOHOL.” Try this beer if you dare but the price just may put you off the whole idea.

The SixPackTech summary for The Bruery Mash & Coconut Imperial Brown Ale – 2017:

Style: Barleywine
Taste: Multi-flavor overload with a ton of alcohol esters free of charge.
Smoothness: Nope.
Bang for the buck: If I had only known.
Amount paid: $22.99 for a 750ml capped bottle.
Get it again? Hell no. I’m out of that league.
ABV: 13%
Brewer’s website
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sniff) What the hell is this? I’m not drinking this. (But… it’s aged in bourbon barrels… Hey!)

Tasting clip [0:57]



Coconut tree

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