America runs on co-branded beer

By Mike Pomranz
Updated July 12, 2018
Credit: Courtesy of Pivot PR

From TV shows and colleges to Fudgie the Whale and Lululemon, you haven’t made your mark on society until you have an official beer. That holds true for Dunkin’ Donuts, which appears to be set to release its third official craft brew.

Both doughnuts and coffee are regular beer-collaboration staples. For instance, Oregon’s Rogue Ales has famously worked with the state’s Voodoo Doughnuts for years. Meanwhile, coffee has long been used to accent the roasted notes in dark beers like stouts or as a counterpoint to paler beers like kolsches. So it was probably only a matter of time before Dunkin’ got in on craft beer mania.

That happened back in September when news broke of a collaboration between North Carolina’s Catawba Brewing and a local Dunkin’ Donuts franchise. That brew, called Dunkin’ Punkin Brown Ale, grabbed national attention as DD’s first official beer. But it was a one-time, small-batch offering sold only out of Catawba’s four tasting rooms. A second Dunkin’ beer, released in December from Massachusetts’ small Wormtown Brewery, was equally tough to find: This DDark Roasted Brew, as it was called, was only being sold at the brewery.

But now, Dunkin’ appears set to make a jump to the bigtime: Massachusetts-based Harpoon Brewing—the 28th largest brewery in the county according to the Brewers Association—has apparently submitted labels to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for a beer called Dunkin’ Coffee Porter that feature the doughnut chain’s iconic colors and font. The beer blog Tenemu says it reached out to Harpoon for confirmation of the release, and the brewery has yet to respond. Keep in mind that label approvals don’t mean a beer is guaranteed to be released. However, MyBeerBuzz reports that the labels are intended to be used for both 12-ounce bottles and cans, so even though the packaging includes the word “limited” on it, this latest proposed DD beer would appear to be the chain’s biggest release yet, seeing as it would actually be packaged for sale. Additionally, Harpoon distributes to 25 states so the potential for wide availability exists. Now, Dunkin’ fans just have to wait for more details.

To recap, here is what we know about all three Dunkin’ Donuts beers:

Catawba Dunkin’ Punkin’ Brown Ale: Released in North Carolina on September 29 in honor of National Coffee Day, this beer was billed as the first to include original Dunkin’ Donuts flavorings, utilizing both cold-brew and pumpkin-flavoring. Only 60 kegs were made, leading to a mere 464 check-ins on the beer rating app Untappd. However, those who tried it seemed to have liked it. The brew with “a strong coffee flavor that is immediately accented with all the favorite pumpkin spice flavors” currently has a score of 3.94 out of 5. (Anything at 4.00 or above is generally considered a top-flight brew.)

Wormtown DDark Roasted Brew: Released in Massachusetts on December 21 in honor of the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year, this limited-release stout featured a “full-roasted coffee flavor reminiscent of freshly-ground beans with a creamy mouthfeel,” according to Dunkin’ Donuts. Likely even harder to find than Dunkin’ Punkin’, only 249 people checked it in on Untappd, but apparently many of them were big fans: The brew currently has a 4.09 rating.

Harpoon Dunkin’ Coffee Porter: As of now, no official release date is known. Though unlikely, it’s even possible the beer will never surface at all. However, the proposed labels state, “Beloved Dunkin’ coffee brings robust, roasty notes to this balanced and smooth coffee porter.” The aroma apparently will feature notes of espresso and dark chocolate, and the taste is billed as roasty, malty, and smooth.