4/3/19: MadTree Brewing Company's Local Blend Cleveland - Phoenix Coffee Co

7:38 AM

This is the last in a series of four posts devoted to Local Blend, a collaboration series of coffee porters MadTree released in January. I'll be judging each beer individually, comparing it to the others in the series, and, finally, rating Local Blend as a whole.


Here we are, that the last entry in MadTree's Local Blend series. Spring is finally here (I spent yesterday doing some yard work and planting my vegetable garden) and the sun is shining brightly outside my window. It's a beautiful morning, and I can't think of a better reason to break into this fourth can. So, without wasting more time, let's get to it: Local Blend Cleveland.

But, as always, before diving into my beer I like to know a bit about the forces that made it. While I'm specifically focusing on Phoenix Coffee Co here, I'm sure you know that MadTree played an incredibly critical role in the creation of this porter (given how they, you know, brewed it). If you'd like to know more about one of my favorite Cincinnati breweries, be sure to hit up their "About MadTree" page. There, you'll find everything you'd ever need to know about their history.

Phoenix keeps their "About" page short and sweet. Founded by Carl Jones 28 years ago, the Cleveland roaster is now helmed by Sarah Belzile. Phoenix, in keeping with their namesake, focuses on continued renewal and growth--a mission they're currently working toward with both a rebranding project and an additional location.

Local Blend Cleveland (the info I'm pulling here comes from its Untappd profile) contains a 6% ABV porter brewed with lactose as a base. This is, I'm assuming, the exact same base upon which the other offerings in the series are built. Taking this base, MadTree added coffee roasted by Phoenix Coffee Co, and this is where we'll find the difference between Cleveland and its seriesmates.

This iteration of Local Blend has a sweet, almost malty nose. It boasts a caramel quality before giving way to the vegetable of the bean and, finally, the darkness of the coffee. Cleveland's bouquet is wholly unlike those offered by its counterparts, yes, but that contrast allows this porter to stand on its own. Purrl didn't like the aroma as much as I do; she only gave my open can seven whiffs.


That caramel quality from the bouquet carries through strongly into the porter's taste. The lactose really shines here; it's the first flavor on my tongue before the coffee bean flavor overwhelms it. The flavor of the Phoenix beans themselves are green (which, I know, is a terrible way to describe taste, but I can easily taste the meat of the legumes so that's how I'm choosing to describe that sensation). After this, some roastiness comes through for a moment--deep and dark, like a perfect cup of black drip coffee--before bowing out and allowing that caramel sweetness and the vegetable greeness mingle in the finish.

The finish, by the way, is complimented by the mouthfeel. This is creamy, thanks in no small part to the lactose, and is reminiscent of a cup of joe with a splash of creamer.

From what I understand, universities end graduate courses of study in one of three ways: a dissertation (or, more commonly for a master's, a thesis), an internship, or comprehensive examinations. When I got my master's at Ohio University, I was faced with that last one (henceforth known as "comps"). A comp (or, at least, the one I took) is a set of three questions that encapsulate your course of study. Each is an essay that takes two hours to write. For mine, I went to a computer lab and spent six hours draining my brain of everything I'd learned.

In preparation for my comps, I spent two weeks doing nothing but studying (gathering information, reading through old papers, reading the over the same articles so frequently that I could recite them verbatim, etc.). The morning of my comps, I woke at four. Michelle and I went to a diner for a super early breakfast where she quizzed me over my prompts (good professors will give you some hint of what you'll be asked so you can best prepare). From there, I walked to the computer lab.

On my walk, I strolled through a city waking up. Shop and restaurant owners were readying for the day. People were leaving their homes for work. It was July, but the morning was cool. Everyone had a warm cup of coffee clamped in their hands. These cups seemed necessary things: something warm against the morning chill, a reassurance that the day would turn out fine. I took solace in that thought on my way to my comps. I like to think that the coffee in at least one of those cups tasted somewhat like Local Blend Cleveland.

I'll forego the fluff here: Local Blend Cleveland is my favorite of the series. I'm giving it a 10/10 score. MadTree and Phoenix Coffee Co have brewed up something special here. It holds all the qualities that make it seriesmates so good, but the strong (but far from overpowering) sweetness from the lactose really push it into the top tier for me.

So, now that we're done, how is the Local Blend series as a whole? Fantastic. Each blend is wholly different from its counterparts, and each expertly showcases the coffee utilized. I still see some four-packs hanging around at local stores (and, as of last week, MadTree's taproom still had quite a few). It's an easy 9.5/10 as a whole. I recommend that you definitely pick some up whenever you have a the chance!

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