It’s pretty easy to get me interested in a product. It all rests in one simple marketing tool: cute animals. Recently, I found myself at a massive liquor store, lost in a sea of booze that flowed on seemingly endlessly; winning my purchase was going to be a cutthroat competition, I thought. Then my eyes managed to find Otter Creek Brewing Company’s Couch Surfer beer. It has a cute cartoon dog on it, and that was my only reason for purchasing it.
Turns out I made a decent choice based on absolutely nothing but a cute cartoon dog. Couch Surfer is an oatmeal stout, one that pours jet black into the glass and smells of oats and coffee. I’m a big fan of dark stouts that have hints of chocolate, nuts and milk in their flavor profile, so Couch Surfer seemed right up my alley.
What I found strange was how much of Couch Surfer’s flavor is on the back end — there’s very little flavor if you just let it sit in your mouth, but it has a much more upfront after taste that tastes like dark coffee. Its coffee-like flavors are a bit too dark for my tastes, not being a fan of black coffee, but if you like roasted flavors this would be a good choice for you. It’s bitter in the same way that dark chocolate is.
I certainly appreciate that Couch Surfer has a silky texture to it, though; it goes down easier than many other stouts do. Its body is surprisingly thin, with very little carbonation to it as well. Nonetheless, it seems like an apt beer for these colder months. It left a resounding warmness in me that not all beers can, the kind that certainly lends itself to being winter-friendly. I wouldn’t drink this stuff on a hot summer day, but curl up on your couch with this brew and you’ll be a happy camper.
Overall, Couch Surfer just isn’t that memorable of a beer for me. If I want a stout, I want something with a full body, something that feels thick and has sweeter notes to it. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, check out Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout or even their more-closely-related Oatmeal Stout. Maybe even Lagunitas’ Cappucino Stout. Or if you’re lucky enough to find it around these parts, get your hands on Founders Breakfast Stout. All of these are more memorable, more flavorful stouts that do similar things but better.
Then again, maybe you like bitter dark chocolate and black coffee, two things I’m not at all a fan of. If so, Couch Surfer might just be for you. I got it for $11.99, and at 5.4 percent ABV, that’s not bad. Don’t buy Couch Surfer just because it has a cute dog on it — I’m glad I did and can put the cool dog art up on my wall, but I wouldn’t let it sway me a second time. Recommended if you like bitter oat, coffee and chocolate flavors.