Last Snow (6.4% ABV)
Funky Buddha of Oakland Park, FL
A Coconut and Coffee Porter.
On tap, growlers, and bottles with limited FL distribution.
In the great big world of coffee beers, this is one of my favorite beers of all-time. Funky Buddha’s Last Snow has exactly the kind of balance in flavors that so many breweries go for with coffee and other ingredients, yet few can fully hit. I immediately fell in love with this beer at first sip.
Launched as a tiny one barrel brewhouse in 2010, founder Ryan Sentz has helped grow Funky Buddha into a real leader in the growing Florida craft beer scene, known especially for early successes like their Maple Bacon Coffee Porter. Today they're still independently owned, but have grown from humble origins to become a “regional brewery”, selling more than 15,000 barrels of beer each year. Funky Buddha is now known for much more than porters, including a popular Floridian Hefeweizen and Moro Moro Blood Orange IPA, but porters remain a core strength, and are a focus of the brewery's Little Buddha Small Batch program.
Last Snow is part of that program, and comes steeped with cacao nibs, toasted coconut, and a Guatemalan coffee from Café Vidal in nearby Miami. Café Vidal Roastmaster Chris Conover has been working with Sentz and his team to develop coffee beers for the last half decade—though in the beginning he had some concerns. “I was hesitant at first because every time I eat or drink something that has coffee in it, like ice cream or beer it tastes like stale coffee to me,” Conover tells me. “We feel you need to draw out your roasts for the coffee to develop.”
I'd say mission accomplished. Pop the cap off, and you immediately get the aroma of fresh coconut and chocolate. It pours dark brown, almost black, and finishes with a nice creamy head that dissipates quickly thanks to the coffee—coffee can impact head retention in beers, likely because of the oils in brewed coffee, and this beer is no different. Upon your first taste, it’s a liquid version of a Mounds Bar, straight chocolate and coconut, with the coffee poking its head as a subtle aftertaste. Coffee adds some depth to the beer, but doesn't it push it into “roasty” territory, instead blending in so well with the chocolate that you hardly notice it until that aftertaste hits.
This is simply excellent beer, and the critics agree: Last Snow earned a silver medal as the #2 Best Porter in the country in the 2015 Rate Beer Awards, and it boasts a perfect 100 overall score in that site's user rankings. Beer Advocate calls it “world-class”, and a simple Google search reveals dozens more declarations of love for Last Snow. You can add mine to that list.
Last Snow is released twice a year from Funky Buddha, in September and February. Like most of the coffee beers featured on Sprudge, this one has limited availability, and is very much worth hunting for. If you can get your hands on a bottle, I'm confident you'll have found a new favorite coffee beer for your collection. Or you could just drink it—I won't judge.