The word brings a litany of different connotations immediately: the ultimate fall from grace in Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, the ultimate self reflection in Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise or the ultimate rite of passage in Meatloaf’s Paradise By The Dashboard Light.
However, to Prairie Artisan Ales the word paradise means just one thing: coconut. Toasted coconut to be precise. You see, every beer brewed by Prairie that features Paradise in its name incorporates the popular adjunct, much like almost every beer with Pirate in the name has been aged in rum barrels.
A recent release put the two words—as well as their related meanings—together. The result was Pirate Paradise, a 13 percent ABV imperial stout brewed with toasted coconut and vanilla beans and aged in rum barrels. The stout uses Prairie’s Paradise imperial stout as its base, a beer that was first released in June 2016 as a draft-only option before being bottled for the first time earlier this year. It was also the first brewery-exclusive release at Prairie’s faculty in Krebs, Okla. where 1,200 12-ounce bottles were sold with a six bottle limit per person.
Much like a number of Prairie’s stouts, Pirate Paradise pours a thick, pitch black with virtually no head whatsoever and very little obvious carbonation. Interestingly, there are quite a bit of particulates from the coconut floating in the glass and I can see a faint shimmer of oil on the top as well. Aroma coming from the glass is a combination of strong coconut, Mars candy bar, sweet milk chocolate and vanilla, along with a touch of cinnamon.
From the first sip, the profile is dominated by a distinct, sweet coconut note that only gets stronger at the beer warms up, while the finish features a strong dark and bitter chocolate note. There are other flavors that flit in and out—namely raisins, oak, molasses and coffee—but none come close to overtaking the dominant spot, and the overall combination reminds me strongly of a liquid Mounds candy bar. While there is a noticeable lack of carbonation, the mouthfeel is both chewy and full, and the alcohol is extremely well integrated to the point that I almost did not notice it at all.