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Going Whole Hog

Here is the kind of beer story I love to hear: When Stevens Point Brewery decided the next release for its Whole Hog big beer series would be a coffee stout, they wanted to make sure it stood out from the seemingly ceaseless wave of specialty craft beers.

They wanted it to be bigger than your average big beer, the whole hog of beer experience in a bottle. In this case, the biggest coffee flavor you can get and still call it beer, and that means having the expertise to make the coffee speak through the beer. They decided there is only one way to do it right – through a cultural exchange with coffee experts.

Confident in their ability to brew a strong base beer that could stand up to even stronger-flavored coffee, the Point brewers conducted a cultural exchange with Valentine Coffee Roasters of Milwaukee to learn more about coffee and to find the right flavor profiles for the big beer they wanted to present to the world.

Point Brewmaster Gabe Hopkins went to Valentine’s tasting room in Milwaukee’s west side to sample coffee and learn more about the roasting operation. That was followed by two key representatives of Valentine’s visiting Point Brewery to learn more about the craft brewing process.

“It’s all about finding the right balance, and the coffee beans we selected deliver just the right balance of flavor for the malts Gabe uses for Whole Hog Espresso Stout. The result is an extraordinary beer that is much greater than the sum of its parts,” said Robb Kashevarof, Valentine’s owner and president, who was one of the two to visit Point. His statement was in a press release issued upon the release of Whole Hog Espresso Stout last November.

“The Sumatra beans add a touch of fruitiness to the flavor,” said Brewmaster Hopkins in the same press release, “which distinguishes Whole Hog Espresso Stout from other coffee beers in the marketplace. When you taste Whole Hog Espresso Stout, you first encounter chocolate notes plus the fruity notes from the Sumatra coffee on the front end. On the back end you experience the delicate roasted coffee flavor and aromatics contributed by the espresso beans.”

I wholeheartedly concur with Brewmaster Hopkins on each point. Yes, many layers of flavor unfurl on your palate. It’s a delicious beer and a great cup of coffee at the same time. Should I drink it in a beer glass or coffee mug? (Coffee mug just at work, perhaps.)

This is a beautifully conceived and brewed beer. Thank you to the venerable Stevens Point Brewery for going Whole Hog!