Dan Martich's picture

Judge’s Review: 95 Rating - Campfire Coffee Stout by Gnarly Barley Brewing Co.

February, 2021
Judges Rating: 
24 / 24
6 / 6
37 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
19 / 20

Campfire Coffee Stout by Gnarly Barley Brewing Co. is being evaluated as a Mixed-Style Beer (Category 34B) from the 2015 BJCP Style guidelines. 

Moderate aromas of rich dark chocolate, dark roast coffee and malt sweetness with a hint of smoke are found upon first whiff. The sweetness appears to be lactose-driven. Other subtle esters in the aroma are dried cherries along with very mild tobacco. No hop-driven aromas were detected.

This beer poured jet black with a dark khaki brown head with average retention. Seemed lightly viscous when swirled.   

The flavor starts out with bittersweet chocolate, and then dark roasted coffee with sugar follows. No hop flavors or bitterness detected. This beer is decidedly balanced toward the malt.  The dark bittersweet chocolate replaces the bitterness we usually see coming from the hops. The smokiness in the flavor is subtle, and shows restraint, because we’re not talking about a rauchbier here. However, the flavors detected are in harmony with the base imperial stout beer. The aftertaste is short and coffee-derived.

The body is full, with medium carbonation that is pleasant on the palate. The chocolate bitterness is just shy of puckery astringency. There's a light creaminess possibly coming from the lactose that balances well against the roasted malt notes.

Here’s an exceptional beer that is very well made. The aromas, flavors and mouthfeel are in harmony.  Reminiscent of a strong cafe mocha that could also qualify as a breakfast beer given their current popularity. I really enjoyed the balanced flavors of this beer and its drinkability. No burning or harsh alcoholic notes are found in this imperial stout, but rather a calculated approach to dark chocolate, roasted malts and coffee, but without disrupting the base beer. As you get further down the glass of this beer, go ahead and swirl it and discover more dark chocolate notes.