Saturday, November 17th, 2018

Craft Beer Crosscut 11.17.18: A Flight of Coffee Brew

Ron Swarner


Beer-Flights-Logo-no-wordsFile Under: things that get you buzzed. Like many folks, you might be a slave to chemical rituals. Caffeine in the morning, and booze at night. In the name of efficiency, Peaks and Pints recommends combining the two at every opportunity. The pairing of roasted barley with roasted coffee is so natural; it’s almost surprising these stouts and porters didn’t catch on sooner. But coffee beers didn’t really start to percolate until the mid-90s, and even now they are far from a staple even among craft breweries. But almost no one argues with the inspiration — porters and stouts tend to rely on a roasty malt bill already, conjuring subtle coffee aromatics and flavors, especially in the finish. If you mean business, and want two buzzes in one (no, they don’t cancel each other out…), then pull up a chair to Craft Beer Crosscut 11.17.18: A Flight of Coffee Brew.

Craft Beer Crosscut 11.17.18: A Flight of Coffee Brew

Firestone-Walker-Mocha-Merlin-TacomaFirestone Walker Mocha Merlin

5.5% ABV, 27 IBU

Firestone Walker released Mocha Merlin, a variation on the brewery’s Velvet Merlin oatmeal stout. The new beer is brewed with a Colombia La Granadilla coffee blend from San Luis Obispo’s HoneyCo Coffee Roasters and cacao nibs from Ghana. The coffee is added straight into the fermentation tank, similar to the dry-hopping process. The cocoa nibs are secured in mesh bags and steeped into the beer. The base beer of Mocha Merlin is the milk stout version of the original Velvet Merlin recipe, with lactose incorporated into the brew for a rounded mouthfeel, medium body and creamy coffee chocolate.

Modern-Times-Bedrock-TacomaModern Times Bedrock

6.2% ABV, 30 IBU

Nitrogenized Bedrock is a marriage between Modern Times Beer’s coffee and beer program, combining a nitro brown ale and the brewery’s Black House Blend coffee. If you enjoy a delicious bold cup of coffee you will enjoy this brown ale. Ready your pressure synapses for a creamy, toasty, chocolaty delight that goes down smooth.

Lagunitas-Willetized-Coffee-Stout-TacomaLagunitas Willettized Coffee Stout

12.6% ABV, 35 IBU

Kentucky’s Willett Distillery has one kind of barrel: wood. And they put two things in them: bourbon and rye. Lagunitas Brewing Co. grabbed a few used Willett rye barrels then filled them with their Imperial Stout and a bunch of coffee. Expect lots of creamed coffee aroma and flavor, plus bits of brown sugar and alcohol at the fringes. Diving deeper results in a chocolate, roasty, fruity flavor with a restrained sweetness. We also get spicy, earthy, woody vanilla from the barrel.

Gilgamesh-Vader-CDA-TacomaGilgamesh Vader CDA

6.4% ABV, 60 IBU

The Salem, Oregon brewery teams up with its neighboring The Governor’s Cup Coffee Roasters for this Cascadian dark ale aged with lightly roasted coffee beans, tawny malts and gradient hop flavors. The brew smells strongly of hops, and hits with a heavy vanilla front. Dig deeper to find espresso bitterness, caramel, malted sweetness, and a hint of dark fruit. We found ample Darth coffee and cocoa up front. It’s a well-balanced, easy drinker.

Founders-Kentucky-Breakfast-Stout-TacomaFounders Kentucky Breakfast Stout

11.8% ABV, 70 IBU

In 2002, Founders Brewing Co. wanted to age their double chocolate, coffee and oatmeal Breakfast Stout in bourbon barrels. A call to Jack Daniels with a request to use their barrels was accepted as long as they picked them up. The first run was a success. Something magical happened in the barrel. The recipe needed refinement since the bourbon notes were overwhelming in the beer. The solution was to create an imperial (higher alcohol content) version of Breakfast Stout. The result is Kentucky Breakfast Stout, or KBS. The aroma is full of gooey chocolate, some smoke and wood notes from the barrel. Thick, full-bodied, it leads with rich and chocolate, boozy warmth and a slight brandy sweetness. It finishes with toasty smokiness and all the depth of a four-tier chocolate cake.