Not From Concentrate

Brewery and Country of Origin: Harpoon Brewery of 306 Northern Ave # 2, Boston, MA, 02210, USA

Date Reviewed: 2-20-13

This is a beverage that is brewed in many different ways around the world. It is one of humanity's most popular drinks. There are many varieties and levels of qualities associated with each style. These drinks can be enjoyed at restaurants or at home. Consuming these beverages will have side effects affecting the brain. And because of the chemical ingredients found in this kind of drink, you will have to go to the bathroom more frequently than usual. We're talking about beer... we mean coffee. In 2011, over 7.875 million tonnes of coffee beans were produced around the world, making it one of the worlds' biggest agricultural commodities (along with oats, wheat, corn, sugar, soybeans, and cocoa among others). In fact, in the North Western hemisphere on average, every person drinks a cup of coffee for every three cups of water they drink. To those of you who don't drink coffee, that's a huge number, and to some of you Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks fanatics, then sure, that seems a bit too low of a number. Still, coffee is very much a part of life for most of us, and while the benefits of caffeine are very obvious reasons to drink coffee, many people love it because of the way it tastes. This is all much in the same way that people like to drink beer because of the sensory experience, rather than simply the liquid confidence it instills. And that brings us to yet another 100 Barrel Series session, the El Triunfo Coffee Porter. The idea of coffee porters isn't new to us, as we have reviewed some in the past, but what makes this particular beer special is that instead of simply using coffee malts to drive flavor, Harpoon uses real coffee beans from a little known region in the Free and Sovereign State of Michoacan de Ocampo, a federal entity of Mexico located in the western part of the country. This basically means that you get the real deal in terms of coffee induced flavor and aroma. And if you're an enthusiast, that means quite a lot. More importantly, if you just like coffee, that means you'll probably love this fusion of two of your favorite things: Coffee and beer. Beyond that, it also is nice to know that the flavors your getting are from coffee, not coffee malt, which biologically has no connection with coffee whatsoever. So if you're like us, being a bit uneasy about things like tofurkey, soy milk, artificial cheese, and kale, then you'll appreciate the El Triunfo knowing (not believing) that you know what you're getting.
Date Sampled: 2-01-13 At: 7 Prescott Place, Allston, Boston, MA, 02134, USA
Beer Style: American Porter
Alcohol by Volume: 6.00%
Serving Type: 22 oz Bottle, 20 oz Pint Glass
Rating: 4.21


El Triunfo pours fairly smoothly with a below average level of carbonation action, producing a half inch foam head with a medium density, and a low amount of retention. There is no sediment in this beer, which gives it a clear appearance which glows moderately brightly in the light. The color is dark brown and a ruby reddish glow. This beer laces almost fully.


This brew gives off a strong roasted coffee and malty aroma dominated with dark roasted malt, characterized with coffee tones, and a good amount of sweetness. Some biscuity and nutty notes are present, as well as a slight toffee like secondary. There is no alcoholic tinge, and very slight hops detectable in the aroma.


This is a medium full bodied beer with a heavy feel overall. The medium low level of carbonation gives this a smooth feel, and a medium high viscosity gives it a good amount of substance along with the elevated weight. This beer has a very clean finish with a very short lived linger. The finish is somewhat dry.


The flavor is very strong with a coffee and roasted dark chocolate prominence. Both of these attribute to a more bitter beginning flavor, which shifts to a sweeter toffee taste accompanied with some nuttiness. Bold malty flavors unhindered by any alcohol or fruityness. All of this enhanced with real coffee beans. The aftertaste is slightly bitter with a somewhat restrained hoppy finish.

Our Take

Perhaps the ironic bit about this is that if you knew us, you'd know that we're not coffee people. In fact, we're not really caffeine people at all. How do we do it? Not even we know. Still, this beer's authentic and true flavors and aromas are what make this a real winner, yet another to add to the growing list of awesome 100 Barrel Series brews we've rated. Massive coffee and dark roasted chocolate malt flavors coat the entire mouth with the help of a smooth texture and a full body. This is a heavy beer which makes it better in the cold months, and preferrably with a dinner involving steak. But if you're going commando with the pairing, this makes a great casual sipper, despite it's image. We would also like to say at this point that this is a very well balanced beer which should cater to a lot of different tastes. Unlike many of the more flavorful malty or hoppy brews that we've recommended to only one group of beer drinkers, the El Triunfo satisfies a wide range of tastes with a profile including obvious dark and full malty flavors, kept in check with a bitter finish and subtle hoppy notes. But what gets us the most is the use of real Mexican coffee beans. Naturally bitter, this additive also keeps an overall sweeter character at bay. At this point we'd like to suggest that one could replace coffee with this porter, but then you'd need to get someone to drive you to work everyday and that could get expensive. Still, with reward comes responsibility. Great job, Harpoon.