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I don’t really drink coffee. I’ll have a cup if someone offers, but having been diagnosed with ADHD at a young age, I am by this point kind of over stimulants in general. My meds worked, but they killed my appetite and my creativity and frequently my sleep, and in general just made me feel uneasy all the time, all of which symptoms I also experience after too much coffee. This might also help account for why I like beer so much: It has all the exact opposite effects.
Beer with coffee in it, though? Put that the fuck in my glass, now.
Ballast Point calls Calm Before the Storm a “warm-weather alternative” to that brewery’s fantastic Victory at Sea, an imperial porter with coffee and vanilla added. I call the prevailing attitude that imperial porters and stouts aren’t warm-weather beers tyranny and madness, but hey, maybe we can both be right. The only way to be sure was to take one out of my fridge, pour it into a mason jar (the summer-est of beer glasses!), and take it out onto my balcony where it is unmistakably still summer.
The first thing I should say here is that August in Austin is horrible. Within five minutes outside at damn near 7pm, I felt in real danger of drowning in my own sweat. But! This beer was nevertheless incredibly refreshing. It pours a very pretty dark gold without much of a lasting head. Coffee dominates both the aroma and the upfront flavor, to such an extent that if you drank this blindfolded you’d swear it’s a stout. The vanilla is present, but only in the same sense the kid in the back row of your calculus class playing Drug Wars on his graphing calculator was present. But the finish? All crisp hops and pilsner-like cleanness. I’ll drink any beer in any season, but if you won’t, this shouldn’t strain your delicate sensibilities too much.
All in all, I feel this is a highly successful experiment in coffee beer for hot-weather markets, and it should pair splendidly with throwing the empty bottles at Peter King.
tl;dr: Whether you’ll like this beer is probably perfectly correlated with whether you like coffee beer. Buy it if you don’t think it’s outrageous to spend $14 on a 5.5% ABV sixer. You should avoid purchasing Austin’s summer weather, however, as it is intolerable.
Grade: You can’t butt-chug on your balcony, people will see.
make it snow is an alot of beer and the former author of the recurring or not recurring feature A Beer Review. make it snow has drunk at least 2000 unique beers in his life, but has only had one Calm Before the Storm this evening, which is either the result of this being a shorter review than last time or the reason for it. Fax him a beer during normal business hours!