The Manhattan Project’s Plutonium-239 Is A Flavor Bomb For Coconut Lovers. 

Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we’ll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it’s local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!

This week, we sipped on The Manhattan Project’s Plutonium-239.Fast Facts on The Manhattan Project Plutonium-239.
Style: Coconut Porter.
ABV: 6.2 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 25.
Color: Black.
Availability: Kegs.

Overview.
Every now and again, I run across a commercial brewery that I have previously seen on the homebrew circuit. OK, that’s sort of a dubious statement to make right off the bat. Let me rephrase: Every now and again, I see spring forth to commercial life an upstart brewer who I’ve seen compete several times at Oak Cliff’s muy-kickass homebrewing competition, Brew Riot. Yeah, that’s more accurate!

So, The Manhattan Project has held a conspicuous tent spot at the last couple Brew Riot events, and there’s good reason for that: This crew is cranking out some excellent beer. And since the Sanford family (read: two of the three owners of TMP) resides in Oak Cliff, I would be willing to go out on a limb and say that they might have some sort of hookup with the Brew Riot people. Whether it’s in cahoots with Brew Riot, though, doesn’t matter. Because The Manhattan Project has now officially launched as a commercial operation! And while this brewery doesn’t have its own dedicated brewery space, it is able to crank out some commercial-sized batches. Earlier in the year, TMP reached out to Bitter Sisters and set up an agreement (an alternating proprietorship) to utilize its space. What this means is that there are two breweries licensed at this same location.

Background on Coconut Porter.
Since the Fruit Beer style is a rather loosey-goosey shitload of variability, let’s talk about the porter style first, and then have a small mention of the fruit bits later, yeah?

The porter style comes to us with its roots in Europe, particularly in England. Originally, the porter was a popular pub ale choice for everyday people. The porter style is a top-fermented ale that should be medium alcohol range, and much easier to drink than it looks. Some people have an automatic aversion to dark beer, but fear not! Porters are smooth and delicious. Some porters can contain lower amounts of carbonation, a nod to older British styles. Of dark beers, porters are close to the darkest. Some may have a hint of ruby if you look through the glass in front of a super-bright light source. Depending on the type of porter, hopping can get a bit more assertive, but it should never be the showcase of the beer. According to its website, The Manhattan Project uses Magnum and Kent Goldings hops in Plutonium-239 – a nod to more of an English sort of style. What should stand out in this style is the dark roasty grain situation. This should taste like dark grains, roasty and sometimes chocolatey. But it shouldn’t head over into the harsh or bitter-burnt area.Appearance.
Plutonium-239 pours black into the glass. I do see a teeny tiny bit of ruby showing through on the edges of the glass, but it’s very difficult to capture this in photo form. The foam props up for quite a while on this beer, with pillowy, light tan bubbles. Cobwebs of foam cling to the glass as I sip it.

Aroma.
There is a battle in my head between Girl Scout cookies and sunscreen going on here! I don’t mean the chemically overpowering sensation of sunscreen — I mean the coconut aroma from coconut oil. So it’s a lot of chocolate, a bit of cookie and also some coconut on the nose. The fact that this is a porter gets mildly obfuscated by these nose-forward traits. But it’s still definitely a porter in the end — just a porter with fruit in it.

Flavor.
The dark roasty grain may be a bit sparse on the nose, but it is very evident on the taste. At first, I get a faint bite of bitterness and roasted dark chocolate malt. And then the cookie arrives. It reminds me of a dense, chewy Samoa cookie, and I dig that. And then the coconut explodes on to the scene. It’s here, and it is not messing around. You know those subtle coconut beers where you sip it and wonder where the coconut went? Yeah, that is not happening in the least bit here. The coconut is round, sweet and it’s intense. I don’t dislike it. It’s just, well, a lot.Mouthfeel.
Plutonium-239 has a medium body, and it’s a pleasure to drink. The beer is not watery or thin, nor is it overpowered with residual sugar. The carbonation is slightly lower than some other porters that I have had, but it feels like the carbonation is dialed down intentionally with this beer.

Overall Impression.
Plutonium-239 brings the coconut, no doubt. For all DFW beers with coconut — and there are a few of them — this beer takes the cake for the most intense use of the hard-to-open fruit. I am curious to see how the coconut situation will change as this brewery scales its recipes. Some smaller-scale recipes can get away with intense use of additions and flavors because the overall cost is lower and there’s less risk. I’m curious to see if The Manhattan Project will keep the intensity up with the coconut, or if it will dial it down a bit in order to pad in a tiny bit more margin.

For now, though, Plutonium-239 is without question for coconut lovers. If you have an aversion to coconut, this is absolutely not the beer for you. If you have a bad association when you think of coconut oil types of sunscreen, maybe this beer is also not for you. To be clear again: I’m talking about the sweet, inviting smell of sunscreen, not the chemical bit. I don’t know why my brain keeps going to sunscreen — it’s just a thing for me – and it might be for you too?

Overall, I would says that this beer is a pleasure to drink. However, for me, this is a one-beer beer. It’s a hard slog through flavor town, and then it’s on to something else with more of a palate cleanser quality.

Score.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give The Manhattan Project Plutonium-239 a 7.What’s happening in the area brew scene?
•  Friday, December 16. WFAA Santa’s Helpers Toy Drive at Goodfriend.
• Saturday, December 17. Third Anniversary at Cobra Brewing Co.
Thursday, December 22. Holiday Pop-Up Beer Dinner w/ SMOKE at Taps & Caps.
Saturday, December 31. Five-Year Anniversary at Peticolas Brewing Co.
Saturday, December 31. One-Year Anniversary at Division Brewing.

Previous On Tap Reviews:
Revolver’s Sangre y Miel: 10.
Peticolas’ Royal Scandal: 10.
Community’s Mosaic IPA: 10.
Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer: 10.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
Community’s Legion: 10.
BrainDead’s Fill in the Blancs: 9.5.
Oak Highlands’ Freaky Deaky: 9.5.
Deep Ellum’s Barrel Aged Four Swords: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Saint Dymphna: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Lost Epic: 9.5.
Community’s Ascension Porter: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Temptress: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Goatman: 9.5.
Community’s Public Ale: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Thrilla in Brazilla: 9.5.
• On Rotation’s Lingonberry Sahti: 9.25.
On Rotation’s Jalapeno Saison: 9.
Woodcreek’s Bourbon Barrel Bock: 9.
Lakewood’s Wild Manimal: 9.
Revolver’s Blood & Honey: 9.
Martin House’s Imperial Texan: 9.
Community’s Trinity Tripel: 9.
Peticolas’ Irish Goodbye: 9.
Four Corners’ Block Party Porter: 9.
Cedar Creek’s Belgian Dubbel: 9.
Small Brewpub’s Black Pepper Pils: 8.5.
Peticolas’ Ghost Of Alfred Brown: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Rock Ryder: 8.5.
Rahr’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
• Peticolas’ Prime Minister: 8.25.
Lakewood’s Thread Spinner: 8.
Texas Ale Project 50 Ft. Jackrabbit: 8.
Texas Ale Project’s Payne Pils: 8.
Noble Rey’s Bridesmaid’s Tears: 8.
Collective Brewing’s Urban Funk House: 8.
Lakewood’s On Call: 8.
Oak Highlands’ Golden Mustache: 8.
903 Brewers’ Crackin’ Up: 8.
Deep Ellum’s Play Date: 8.
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s 11th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Belgian Tripel: 8.
Noble Rey’s SteamPunk: 8.
903 Brewers’ Citra On Top: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Hissy Fit: 8.
BrainDead’s Gritz: 8.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Inspiration : 8.
Cedar Creek’s Fisticuffs: 8.
Lakewood’s Punkel: 8.
Four Corners’ El Chingon IPA: 8.
Martin House’s Day Break: 8.
Deep Ellum’s GOURDzilla: 8.
Peticolas’ The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
Deep Ellum’s Pale Ale: 8.
Revolver’s Bock: 8.
903 Brewers’ Sasquatch: 8.
Peticolas’ Wintervention: 8.
Armadillo Ale Works’ Brunch Money: 8.
Martin House’s Salsa Verde: 8.
Cedar Creek’s Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
Lakewood’s Holiday Bonus: 8.
Lakewood’s Hop Trapp: 8.
3 Nations American Wit: 7.75.
Armadillo Ale Works’ Dapper Apple: 7.75.
Legal Draft’s Accused Amber Lager: 7.5.
Grapevine’s Reserve Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse: 7.5.
Martin House’s Stars Above: 7.5.
Grapevine’s Prickly Pear Wheat Ale: 7.5.
Bitter Sisters’ Knock Out: 7.5.
Four Corners’ Notorious O.A.T.: 7.5.
Noble Rey Golden Rey With Raspberries and Ginger: 7.5.
On Rotation Saved By The Belma: 7.5.
True Vine’s Unicorn’s Revenge: 7.5.
Deep Ellum’s Hop Seeker: 7.5.
Four Corners’ El Super Bee: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Hopochondria: 7.5.
Three Nations GPA: 7.5.
Martin House’s Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Antigoon’s Revenge: 7.5.
Community’s Texas Pils: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Zomer Pils: 7.5.
Cedar Creek’s Dankosaurus: 7.5.
Oak Highlands Brewery’s Oktoberfest.: 7.25.
Backcountry’s Texas IPA: 7.
Backcountry’s Double IPA: 7.
Rahr’s Visionary: 7.
Shannon Brewing’s Irish Cream Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Guava Good: 7.
TUPPS Brewery’ Northbound 75: 7.
Rahr & Sons’ Iron Joe: 7.
BrainDead’s I Like Harvey IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Turtle Power: 7.
Collective’s Petite Golden Sour: 7.
Shannon’s Chocolate Stout: 7.
BrainDead’s Red Ale: 7.
Community’s Razzy Raspberry Witbier: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway Blonde Ale: 7.
Bearded Eel’s Purple Unicorn: 7.
Noble Rey’s Off The Leash: 7.
Shannon Brewing Company’s Irish Red: 7.
Texas Ale Project’s Somethin’ Shady: 7.
Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
Cedar Creek’s The Lawn Ranger: 7.
Martin House Brewing Company’s Cellarman’s Reserve IPA (Amarillo).: 7.
Lakewood’s Till & Toil: 7.
903 Brewers’ The Chosen One: 7.
903 Brewers’ Sugar On Top: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway XPA: 7.
Armadillo Ale Work’s Quakertown Stout: 7.
Revolver’s High Brass: 7.
Community’s Pale Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Chump Change: 7.
Martin House’s River House: 7.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Sir William’s Brown Ale: 7.
Community’s Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
Audacity’s Boss Raptor IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Queen of the Mist (Prickly Pear): 6.75.
Martin House’s The Juice: 6.5.
Collective Brewing Project’s Mom Azacca: 6.5.
Four Corners’ La Lechuza: 6.5.
Revolver’s Ironhead IPA: 6.5.
903 Brewers’ Trot Line: 6.5.
Peticolas’ Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Nightwatch: 6.5.
Peticolas’ The Duke: 6.5.
Deep Ellum’s Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
Wild Acre’s Tarantula Hawk: 6.
Martin House’s Kafkaesque: 6.
TUPPS’ Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Tweedleyum: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Off With Your Red: 6.
Cedar Creek’s Elliott’s Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Lakefire: 6
Armadillo Ale Works’ WunderMelon: 6
Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
Lakewood’s Troll Toll: 5.5.
Martin House’s Hell Below: 5.5.
Lakewood’s La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
Woodcreek’s Lakeside Cerveza: 5.
Martin House Cuvee Pumpkin Latte: 5.
Intrinsic’s Crunktoberfest: 5.
Martin House’s Mind On My Money: 5.
903 Brewers’ The Land Of Milk And Honey: 5.
Deep Ellum’s Numb Comfort: 5.
Four Bullets’ Black Jack Brown: 4.5.
Audacity’s Checkered Past: 4.
Four Corners Heart O’ Texas: 4.
Audacity’s Sunset Boulevard: 4.
Shannon Brewing Company’s IPA: 4.
Grapevine’s Monarch: 4.
Twin Peaks’ Dirty Blonde: 3.
Franconia Wheat: 3.
Miller Lite: 1.

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