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Everything You Need to Know About Oskar Blues' Death by Coconut

death by coconut
Courtesy of Oskar Blues Brewery

When you think of coconuts, your mind might travel to beaches and piña coladas. When Oskar Blues thinks about the fruit, it thinks fall and hearty beers. That might not be the prevailing view, but some of the best things come with a small audience passionate about something that not everyone gets. 

Death by Coconut, a fall seasonal release, from the Colorado-based brewery is back. It’s not an impossible-to-find annual release like Toppling Goliath’s $100 per bottle Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout or more readily available but similar releases like Surly’s Darkness. Nonetheless, the hearty, coconut-laced brew can be a little difficult to dig up during the couple of months it's around. You aren’t going to have to wait in line for it, but you might have to track it down. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the coconut-y, chocolatey seasonal porter that will have you welcoming fall with open arms.

What Is Death by Coconut?

The Irish porter was first brewed by Oskar Blues in 2014, but it’s only relatively recently that it’s expanded beyond the walls of the brewery’s taprooms.

Initially the beer was a collaboration between Oskar Blues and Shamrock Brewing Company,” says Juice Drapeau, head brewer at the Oskar Blues pilot brewery in Lyons, Colorado. “It was something that was brewed on a small scale and was extremely well received.” The demand quickly outpaced what was available in taprooms and limited distribution inside Colorado. The expansion to national distribution has had hiccups along the way, but for the third year, you’ll be able to find it in cans distributed across the US.

Death by Coconut is an Irish Porter, but that certainly doesn't define what's happening inside the can. When you pop the can open, you’re enveloped in a deep rush of coconut aroma like a cartoon character that’s disappeared behind a puff of white smoke.

For a 6.5% ABV beer, it’s thick and smooth. Not at the level of the Imperial stouts that are getting seasonal releases over the next few months, but it’s full. The coconut taste is slightly milder than the smell, but it's plenty present, sitting on top of a rich layer of bitter chocolatey, malty porter. It's a transition beer, welcoming you to fall. It doesn't sit too heavy but brings you back to beers that taste like you could sip them around a cabin fireplace under a blanket, lost in a book.

I think it’s exciting,” says Drapeau. “It’s a perfect fall beer.”

Death by Coconut is made with desiccated coconut and liquid cacao from Boulder, Colorado’s Cholaca, as well as a malt bill featuring dark chocolate and extra-dark caramel malts.

Death by coconut
Brewer Brian Shaeffer works one of the two new fermentation tank at Oskar Blues Brewery. | Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Where Can I Get Death By Coconut?

The first taste came out on August 23 in Oskar Blues taprooms. Then, throughout September, the four-packs and kegs begin rolling out to stores and bars. It's a strange balance because the beer is released nationally. So, you should be able to get it wherever else you get your beer, but there's a chance that it disappears quickly. 

Your best bet is to use the Oskar Blues beer finder or an app like Untappd to see which stores and bars around you are carrying the beer. Or you could, you know, call your local store. 

What Are the Death By Coconut Variants?

Death By Coconut Rum Barrel-Aged
This is the only variant the brewery has ever produced, and they only did it once. That batch was made in 2017. However, if you’re lucky, you can still get a can or two of the high-ABV variant. “We have a limited amount of it that we release in the taprooms every once in a while,” Senior Marketing Manager Aaron Baker tells Thrillist.

Why should you do that? Because this is a big, delicious beer. It was aged in second-use barrels that were loaded with a ton of rum flavor still. It comes across strongly in the 10.84% ABV beer. The coconut and the chocolate are still there. If you love the flavor of Death by Coconut, it’s still there. But if it truly is death by coconut for you, you might be able to take this one since the coconut flavor is tamped down just enough to make it a flavor rather than the feature.

That’s the only one they’ve done so far, but take heart, Death by Coconut lovers. There could be other variants on the way. “There is the potential for us to do some other variants moving into 2020,” says Drapeau. That will be wait-and-see, but we have some really good ideas in the works.”

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.