But then again, I don't really care.
Because of my state's wondrous Quaker heritage which prohibits car sales on Sundays and alcohol at grocery stores without a cafe, the nearest TJ's with beer and wine is a two hour drive to the Cleveland 'burbs. Which I did with my lovely bride and pack of kiddos...only to get there and realize two things: no cookie butter beer in Ohio yet because the state hasn't "approved the label" (???) thus necessitating another drive at some undetermined point in the future unless one of y'all want to somehow ship me some, and that the new buzzworthy Coffee Peanut Butter Cup Porter, despite it's very TJ-y label, has TJ's nowhere on the label. I would have been able to figure out its sourcing from Campanology Brewing in Waunakee, WI, but whatever. I'm not gonna let details like that hold me back.
Especially when, surprisingly to me, this is actually a pretty decent beer.
Flavored coffees and beers usually aren't my thing. I like my coffee to taste like coffee, and my beer to taste like beer. So dessert stouts and porters are usually off the menu for me. That's my usual stance and frame of reference.
The beer itself is smooth and aromatic while being poured out. I could definitely smell the coffee and peanut butter-y notes, not so much any chocolate ones. This had me thinking it'd have overpowering taste, too cloying, too sweet, too, well, flavored much beyond beer that I'd enjoy it...and I was wrong. Instead, it's a remarkably well balanced beer with not too much of anything. There's some appropriate notes of earthy coffee, a few hints of chocolate, a couple hits of more like roasted peanut than straight up peanut butter, all based with a little milkiness from some lactose and rooted into the dark porter. All together, it only really suggests itself as a coffee and candy beer, instead of straight up smacking that idea around like a blunt force.
All that masks something pretty well: it's 9% ABV! That'd sneak up on ya for sure.
Admittedly, the first few sips were more enjoyable than the rest, perhaps because of flavor build-up and perhaps because some slight warming of the beer opened up the flavors more. But it never got overwhelming. I could totally see drinking one of these on a cool Halloween night, out on my porch handing candy to all the little Tiger Kings and Carole Baskinses and Baby Sharks. I'm not quite degenerate enough to suggest it as a trick-or-treat road soda, as I think I've heard the beer referred to as, but hey, this year, I judge nobody. Do what you gotta do - and that's not the worst idea I've heard.
At $3.99 for the large pint-plus 6oz bottle, the peanut butter beer is a good value and worth a try if you can find it. Was definitely worth the trek for us. Double fours.
Bottom line: Campanology Coffee Peanut Butter Cup Porter: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons