It wasn’t until I used the restroom at Tustin Brewing Co. after drinking the latest batch of Portola Breakfast Stout that I started to feel like a civet. The animal, sort of a raccoon-like mongoose cat, is known for creating the world’s best coffee beans by eating ripe coffee berries, then pooping them out.
Brewer Jerrod Larsen’s stout is just as world-renowned as Kopi Luwak coffee, winning big in two World Beer Cups, taking bronze in 2016 and gold in 2018. If one could pour a pint of the beer inside an actual World Beer Cup, they would be slightly buzzed, not only from the 9 percent ABV beer, but also from the huge hit of Portola Ethiopian coffee blend that’s woven into the dense, chocolatey stout.
“This is the fifth time I’ve brewed this ale,” Larsen notes while stroking his big bushy beard. “This is also the highest alcohol it’s ever been, which kind of helps the overall balance and sweetness.”
I can see what the World Beer Cup judges saw in the sexy black beer. “It kind of reminds me of a beer version of Cuban sipping chocolate,” notes my cacao-enthusiast wife. Aromatically, it’s like a fresh mocha.
Orange County is home to several medal-winning coffee beers, mostly thanks to Jeff Duggan’s custom Portola Coffee Lab blends. Turns out, Duggan is a homebrewer and knows how to combine custom-origin blends and roasting techniques to get such a lush stout.
Tustin Brewing Co., 13011 Newport Ave., Ste. 100, Tustin, (714) 665-2337; tustinbrewery.com.
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, level 1 WSET in Wine, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest happening this June!