taste test

Are the New Beers From Dunkin’ and IHOP Actually Any Good?

Which marketing ploy is the best? Photo: Grub Street

Within a few weeks of one another, IHOP and Dunkin’ have released dark beers themed around what they’re supposedly best at: a pancake stout for IHOP and a coffee porter for Dunkin’. Though, acutely aware that these beers are marketing ploys, Team Grub was still intrigued by the fact that both brands tapped well-respected breweries — Boston’s Harpoon for Dunkin’ and Keegan Ales for IHOP — to make these beers. Here’s what we thought of this pair of “breakfast” beers.

Both beers pass the eye test when it comes to color
Porters and stouts are traditionally darker hued and tend to be medium brown to almost black in some cases. Both IHOP’s and Dunkin’s beers managed to pass the eye test. Both beers were dark brown and didn’t appear to be too watery or thin. Kudos to both Keegan Ales (the maker of IHOP’s stout) and Harpoon Brewery (the brewery behind Dunkin’s beer) for getting the basics right.

IHOP’s pumpkin-pancake stout is the headless horseman of beers
When pouring darker beers, we’re always looking for a thick and foamy head, which usually means that there’s a hefty beer sitting just below the surface. On first pour, IHOP’s stout noticeably lacked a head. All that formed was a thin layer of foam that quickly dissipated, which is never a good sign.

IHOP’s pumpkin-pancake stout tastes pretty skinny
Stouts are supposed to be full-bodied beers. Unfortunately, IHOP’s beer didn’t deliver on that front at all. As one member of our tasting panel put it, “It tastes like what I imagine Pumpkin Spice Latte beer would taste like,” which was not a compliment. The beer was also lacking in any kind of pancake qualities, like notes of maple or buttery smoothness. “Where I take umbrage with this beer is not the pumpkin part; it’s the pancake and the stout part,” one of our panelists said. “This is a hack job.”

Dunkin’s beer is the real deal as far as coffee beers go
The first thing the panel noticed about Dunkin’s beer was that when pouring this beer, a thick, foamy head formed. Always a good sign. Additionally, Dunkin’s decision to go for a lighter porter over a stout paid off: This porter did a great job of carrying the dark, roasted flavor of Dunkin’ coffee. “It tastes like chocolate-covered espresso beans,” one of our panelists said. “I give this five Matt Damons.” Are there better coffee porters on the market? Of course. But, as in life, you could still do a lot worse than Dunkin’.

Are the New Beers From Dunkin’ and IHOP Actually Any Good?