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A Thorough Review of Harpoon’s Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee Beer

I’m definitely a “Boston guy.” I’m from here, got my degree at B.U., love every Boston sports team, think Ben Affleck is a great Batman, and believe the New York Yankees killed JFK. So you can imagine both my excitement and trepidation at learning New England’s own Harpoon Brewery teamed up with our largest church, Dunkin’ Donuts, to make a new beer: Harpoon Dunkin’ Coffee Porter. That’s a really big deal around here, and really it’s a big deal anywhere beer and coffee are popular. That’s why it was important for me to find out if it is good enough to be worthy of two sacred local institutions? Could this beer really live up to its own inherent hype and do the region proud? That’s what I set out to learn.

A quick breakdown…

If you want some fancy analysis, according to the beer’s official page its aroma has “espresso up front, followed by notes of dark chocolate and slight vanilla,” and its taste has a “strong coffee flavor, with dark roasty notes” that finishes “clean with slight coffee bitterness.” My first reaction will probably be more helpful though: “Wow, this takes exactly like black coffee beer.”

Yes, I know that’s a little on the nose, but it’s really true. The Harpoon Dunkin’ Coffee Porter tastes like a bitter, black coffee that is beer-flavored, with a dark chocolate kick. It’s nice when it hits the tongue, and you do get a little of the vanilla, but you can taste that “slight coffee bitterness” at the midpoint of your sip, not just at the end. I didn’t find it to be overwhelmingly bitter, and it’s much more “coffee bitter” than “hop bitter.” In turn, the more you like black coffee, the more you will probably like this confection.

As a nighttime beer…

Despite anticipating something on the heavier side, for a porter it’s actually pretty smooth (even for someone like me, who does not like black coffee) and it’s definitely drinkable if you want to commit to it as your beer for the night. At $8.99 for a six pack, it was good value (though my confused cashier genuinely thought I was buying coffee from the liquor store because the label looks like a Dunkin’ Donuts cup.)

The heavy coffee element means it doesn’t feel like a traditional porter, but it certainly looks like one with its dark brown/almost black body. When you pour it into a glass, don’t tip the glass sideways if you want to end up with a head on it. A careful pour left none, while a lazy top down pour did, and it tasted better with a head on it. I had three of them the first night and didn’t feel full, and could easily have finished off the whole six-pack if I wanted to. But can you truly review a Dunkin’ Donuts beer if you only drink it at night? No.

As a morning “coffee”…

So the next morning I got up and had one with breakfast, because I’m a professional who takes my work seriously. And you know what? It was kinda awesome. It felt like finding a loophole in the established rules for drinking, making it okay to have a beer at 10 AM without being judged. Even better? It genuinely went well with my ham, egg, and cheese bagel sandwich, like having a cold, tasty adult iced coffee. I enjoyed it more than I did drinking them the night before.

This is an ideal beer for people who want a drink with the most important meal of the day. You can drink anything with lunch and dinner without anyone scoffing; why should mimosas and Bloody Marys have a monopoly on breakfast?

Unfortunately, this is a limited time release. There are no plans to make this a staple of Harpoon’s lineup. Which brings me to my final review: my homemade version.

The homemade version…

If I won’t be able to buy this soon, can I make my own? To find out I got Harpoon’s delicious flagship IPA and a black medium iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts and mixed them together, 50/50.

And, uh, it wasn’t that bad. In fact, I kinda enjoyed it. It looked legit, but it definitely didn’t look like Harpoon Dunkin’ Coffee Porter. It also didn’t have any chocolate flavor or the same bitterness, and it lacked carbonation, making it feel like a first attempt home brew beer, but it still felt similar to the real one. After drinking half of it I poured in the rest of the IPA and it was downright good.

Just like the actual beer I was reviewing, you could drink it at brunch. In fact, my final analysis for the Harpoon Dunkin’ Coffee Porter is that while I’d be happy to find it available at a party I wouldn’t buy it again myself to drink at night, but I would buy it to kick off some day drinking.

And whether you’re from Boston or not, what more could you want from a Dunkin’ Donuts beer?

Do you want to try this beer? Are you more or less excited to drink it after reading our review? Let us know in the comments section below.

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