Coffee and beer: The Brews Brothers
The day can be segmented by type of liquid in your cup: coffee, midday filler beverages and beer. Consumed on either side of vast and boring MFBs, coffee and beer rarely find themselves mug to mug, however these two elixirs have much in common. For starters, the primary ingredient in both is water. Next, are their plant-derived ingredients from which they each obtain their aroma, flavor and body — in coffee, the seeds of the Coffea plant; in beer, it's the flowers of Humulus lupulus and grain from the Hordeum vulgare.
Beyond that, coffee and beer share many flavor and aroma similarities brought about by the roasting of the beans for coffee and the malts in beer. In fact, coffee and coffee-related terms are often used in describing beers. These palatable parallels make coffee and beer a delicious duo which has not gone unnoticed by brewers.
Wichita Brewing Company recently began brewing a series of coffee beers. Their version is an 8% stout that gets a triple dose of locally procured coffee. First, during the boil, organic beans are added. Then, flavored coffee is added at two different times during fermentation, once in whole bean form and once ground. The finished product is slightly sweet with the aroma and taste of the flavored coffee bean. The first incarnation of WBC's coffee stout was brewed with Coffee Cake-flavored beans from the Spice Merchant. It sold so well that they decided to brew another version, this time using Chocolate Mintcicle beans. They tapped this latest version in the last week of February.
The guys at Walnut River Brewing in El Dorado have been brewing a tasty coffee beer for a while now. Theirs is a porter that uses a "proprietary" blend from Reverie Coffee Roasters. Featured periodically at several local beer bars, Walnut River's Coffee Porter has found a number of fans. Currently, the brewers are percolating a large batch of the well-regarded beer in preparation for the opening of Bricktown Brewery, where it will be featured among a variety of local and regional taps.
In December, Denver's Renegade Brewing Company moved into Kansas, their first state outside of Colorado. One of the brews they brought across the border is their take on the coffee beer — Hiatus. Like many breweries taking a shot at coffee beers, Renegade has found that cold-pressed coffee produces the best flavor and is less acidic than other brewing methods. Hiatus is a low-alcohol beer with a big maltiness that balances the bitterness of the coffee.
In February, Boulevard Brewing Company released the first beer in their "X" series, Imperial Stout X — Coffee. The inaugural "X" brew uses freshly roasted Ethiopian Sidamo beans from Wichita coffee purveyor The Roasterie. Using a method similar to cold-press, Boulevard allows their Imperial stout, "crash cooled" to 40° F, to rest on the coarsely ground coffee beans for a minimum of 24 hours. The final beer is rich and rounded with lots of chocolate and caramel notes. A bit of spice, herb, and citrus linger in the nose but the overwhelming aroma is all coffee.
And recently, Left Hand collaborated with Old Chicago Restaurants and Allegro Coffee to brew De'Nile Coffee Ale. The exclusive offering was an amber ale and therefore lighter in color and body than many coffee beers, which tend to be stouts. De'Nile was brewed with Allegro's Blue Nile blend coffee — chosen for its intense berry and spice notes. The result was a coppery beer with a distinct coffee aroma and flavors of chocolate and coffee with just a hint of maple. This tasty beer had a very limited release and is, unfortunately, no longer available at any of the local Old Chicagos.
It is doubtful we will soon be hearing jingles about beer being the "best part of waking up." (Though, isn't it?) And, while it may still be frowned upon to drink beer for breakfast, brewers are bridging the midday gap and reuniting these long lost brew brothers with delicious results. Lovers of both have many coffee-centric concoctions to choose from. Perked up brews are popping up like coffee shops on Douglas, and they all have something to offer.