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“A big, creamy, full-bodied-yet-pale-in-color beer made way too much sense to pass up.”

Irish Potato Imperial Dessert Ale

Irish potatoes are delicious. 

We’re not talking about those hard, dirty little things that grow in the ground — we’re talking about the confectionary that’s relatively synonymous with St. Paddy’s Day.

In fact, they’re so delicious that we’ve decided to turn them into a beer!

Earlier this week, we discovered that Irish Potatoes are not an everywhere thing. We were stunned. Stunned! Apparently, you can’t find these cinnamonny balls of goodness in, say, Iowa. Poor Iowans. 

According to Philymag.com, “Back when elementary schools weren’t terrified of lawsuits, moms would bring them into classrooms so you could learn about Irish culture — though they were invented in Philly.”

So, since we’re venturing into areas like southern Delaware and North Jersey and not-as-Eastern Pennsylvania that may not have heard of these delicious confectionary delights, we explain:

They’re yummsville.

Essentially, they’re little, bite-sized balls of coconut cream (or sweetened cream cheese with coconut), then rolled in cinnamon.

Not much to ‘em. Intensely rich and delicious, we’re not exactly sure what they’re supposed to teach anyone about Irish culture — could you even get coconut in turn-of-the-century Ireland? –, but we’d definitely have housed these things if some sweet Irish mother brought them into our elementary school classroom.

“I had never heard of them before,” says Lab Manager Lauren Appleman. “Now, knowing what they are, I’m not sure if I would like them because I’m not the biggest fan of coconut. I do love Samoas though, so maybe I’d like Irish Potatoes? I don’t know. Somebody bring me a homemade one.”

How about a beer, instead, Lauren? An Imperial Dessert Ale?

“Yeah, that’s made up,” Innovation Director Brian Hink tells us. 

The government requires that each beer we brew have some sort of a class designation to it, so… Imperial Dessert Ale works.

“I didn’t want to call this beer just simply an ale,” he continues, “and it’s not really a cream ale, and it’s certainly not a wheat ale — although it has a lot of wheat in it! So, what to call a big sweet, dessert-inspired beer? An Imperial Dessert Ale!”

Even though we had to make up what to call it — innovation! –, we knew we wanted to brew a beer based on an Irish Potato. However, we’d done similar one-offs in the past for St. Paddy’s Day, primarily as a stout.

“Irish Potatoes are hugely popular at all the candy and fudge shoppes lining the shores,” Brian says, “and the cinnamon/coconut combo is perfect with a big, dark, rich, indulgent stout.”

However, it kind of slipped our minds that we were already doing a big, dark, rich, indulgent stout with cinnamon and coconut.  

“We started working on Irish Potato in the time between conceptualizing Last Hurrah and actually brewing the beer,” Brian says, “so we kinda forgot that it was going to have cinnamon, coconut, and vanilla in there to pastry-ize it a little.”

So, we worked our way through some other options: Irish Dry Stout? Another pastry-stout inspired beer? Doing straight-up OG Cape May Stout?

Instead, our Innovation Team — Brian, Tasting Room General Manager Chris Costello, Brewer Andrew Ewing, and Social Media and Design Alchemist Courtney Rosenberg — decided to kind of go the way of Ties the Room Together with this one.

“A big, creamy, full-bodied-yet-pale-in-color beer made way too much sense to pass up,” Brian says.

This beer is all about the adjuncts of cinnamon and coconut — everything else in it is devised to keep quiet and sit in the corner.

According to Brian, the malt bill of pilsner, oats, wheat, and carafoam is “designed to be a big, ol’ pillow for the cinnamon and coconut to rest their tasty little heads on,” with a touch of maltodextrin for sweetness and body.

Our London Ale III yeast is great in this beer.

“Our workhouse house strain,” Brian says, “it’s such a versatile strain and really works great in a variety of styles.” 

With these, the cinnamon and coconut can take center stage.

“The coconut is definitely front-and-center,” Brian says. “Big-time coconutty flavortown influence, with a supporting cinnamon role. The beer is hardly perceptible, as it should be for an Imperial Dessert Ale, which I just decided right now.”

Totally his prerogative. He made it up, after all.

While we love coconut in beer — really, any adjuncts at all — some of them can be a little difficult for the lab.

“Some are way easier to work with than others,” Lauren tells us. “Real coconut can be a tough one because of the oils in them. Oils and beer do not get along. Have you ever noticed that when you first get a beer there is nice foam on top and after your first sip or two it goes away? That is because the oils on your skin affect the proteins and carbohydrates that make up beer foam.”

And even though we didn’t want to do this beer as a stout… we still did it as a stout. It’ll be available as a one-off during our St. Paddy’s Day celebration this weekend.

“This flavor combo works great as a stout and came out wonderfully as an Imperial Dessert Ale,” Brian says. 

Since they’ll be available at the same time, if the laws of physics hold true throughout Cape May Brewing Company (and sometimes we wonder), you should be able to layer them to make a Black and Tan.

“Irish Potato Imperial Dessert Ale on the bottom and the Irish Potato Stout on top,” Brian says, “and it will be sweet, decadent, and delicious.”

Sounds good to us!

You’ll be able to get Irish Potato Imperial Dessert Ale during our St. Paddy’s Weekend celebration, in four-packs of 16oz cans for $14.99 plus tax. We’ll see you there!