Since it was first released in 2002, Alesmith Brewing Co.’s Speedway Stout has become one of the brewery’s top selling beers and has spawned more than 60 variants that have added everything from Vietnamese coffee to Tootsie Rolls.
Last year, the San Diego, Calif.-based brewery decided to release bottles of Hawaiian Speedway, a 12 percent ABV variant that incorporates toasted coconut flakes, vanilla and Ka’u coffee sourced from the Ka’u region of Hawaii. The imperial stout was packaged in 750ml bottles ($25) and was limited to four bottles per person when it was put on sale via Brown Paper Tickets on Nov. 9, 2015.
The bottle has this to say about the blend:
The most recent variation of our celebrated imperial stout honors the culinary character of the Hawaiian Islands by combining the lush sweetness of coconut with vanilla and Ka’u coffee. Named after the region of Hawaii from which it hails, Ka’u is produced from some of the world’s rarest coffee beans. Slow-grown beneficiaries of nutrient-rich volcanic soil and idyllic climate, Ka’u offers nuances of caramel and hazelnut plus a soft floral character, all of which marry seamlessly with natural sweetness from the vanilla and coconut as well as Speedway Stout’s inherently rich, chocolaty character.
The Alesmith Hawaiian Speedway pours a dark as night black with about three fingers worth of mocha colored head that takes its time dissipating, finally leaving a thick lacing that does not seem to want to go anywhere. There is a little carbonation visible, and aroma from the glass is a combination of strong coffee beans, dark cocoa, oak, earth, malt, vanilla and slight coconut sweetness.
The first taste of the Alesmith Hawaiian Speedway brings dominant flavors of both strong bitter espresso and earth, interspersed with other notes of creamy oak, tobacco, rich dark chocolate, malt and graham crackers. There is some vanilla and coconut sweetness present, but both are not very strong as of yet, and both are relegated to finish. The carbonation is quite low, albeit fine for this specific beer, and while the mouthfeel is not overwhelmingly luscious, it is thick and viscous, coating my tongue in a very positive way after each sip.
As it warms, the coconut notes really become more pronounced compared to when it is cold, both in the nose and on the finish, although there is still very little vanilla overall. Having said that, even at its strongest, the coconut note is nothing more than an afterthought in the total picture, and never comes close to a major part of the profile.