Coffee and beer are both bitter tasting, body-altering, and potentially complex liquid substances. They also both have their ‘geeks’ who extol the virtues of different styles, pontificate over the flavours in their drink and who seek out more complex flavours and combinations for imbibing their liquid substance of choice. It only makes sense then that coffee and beer geeks would eventually get together and combine their love of all things bitter in the one drink.
A number of beers with coffee have been released by Australian craft brewers and coffee houses and growers in recent times and the combinations of beer and coffee are becoming more creative all the time.
Last year, Burleigh Head Brewing worked with Zarraffa’s Coffees to release the Black Giraffe, a black coffee lager, while Matilda Bay released Longshot released a dark ale infused with espresso coffee from Toby’s Estate. More recently, True South worked with Proud Mary’s combining cold-drip brewed coffee with a dark ale to create their beer called Whatever You Want Me To Be.
Stouts and dark ales often have coffee characteristics and emboldening these coffee flavours by adding actual coffee to the mix seems like a natural progression. Mountain Goat however have recently taken the idea of brewing beer with coffee a step further recently by adding coffee to a pale ale. Mountain Goat’s Seedy Goat Coffee IPA developed with Seven Seeds is, to my knowledge, the first first pale beer in Australian scene using coffee. The coffee aspect is subdued, but it does add some complexity to the fruit flavours and smooth the hop bitterness a little at the finish. Mountain Goat said on their website that they used the Nicaraguan ‘Finca El Limoncillo’ Pacamara Bean, which displays “guava, prune & paw paw flavours”, and it provided an interesting mix with the tropical fruit aromas already present from the hops.
The best coffee beer I’ve had though has to be Danish Brewer’s Mikkeller’s Koppi IPA, which I sampled at the Mikkeller Tap Takeover at the Local Taphouse and from a growler from Slowbeer. A good IPA with plenty of hops, what pushes it over the edge, is the bold coffee flavour coming through at the finish. The coffee also gave it a great creamy mouthfeel – a lovely beer all round.
For those keen to try out more beers with coffee flavours, also check out international beers commonly available here like the Meantime Coffee Porter and Dark Star Espresso Stout.
The combining of coffee and beer can be taken even further. Red Oak Brewery and Sydney coffee house La Case del Caffe suggest some potential coffee/beer matchings here, while this guy decided to take DIY approach to mixing beer and coffee. I discovered the power of matching beer and coffee myself when I had an espresso at a cafe then went straight to the pub for a Carlton Draught (there was no other choice). I found that with the coffee taste lingering in my mouth even such a bland corporate lager was more drinkable.