We have all heard of coffee being used in a variety of foods. At some point many of us have probably tried coffee ice cream or baked goods with coffee in them. We even have a blog about using coffee grounds in barbecue sauce . Coffee in alcoholic beverages is always a favorite for an after dinner drink. It has recently come to my attention that there are people out there that will even mix coffee in their beer. Since I enjoy both, I thought this was a great topic to explore.
In the mid 90s Red Hook Ale Brewery teamed up with Starbuck to create the “Double Black Stout”. The resulting combination had the full body of a stout beer, accented by the aroma and flavor of Starbucks coffee. Although very hard to find, Red Hook still does brews this beer occasionally. The Red Hook & Starbucks partnership was one of the best known attempts at bringing this combination to the masses; however there are currently many microbreweries around the world that have added coffee beer to their list of brews with reasonable success.
The key to success in combining coffee and beer is to use strong base beer, such as a stout or porter, and a dark-roasted coffee. Using full bodied, strong aroma combinations helps ensure that the flavor of each beverage is not lost when combined. For instance, if strong coffee is not used the resulting flavor can taste more like a malted beer than coffee flavored. If a light amber or pale ale is used the coffee flavor becomes too pronounced.
I decided to combine coffee and beer, on my own to determine what the end result would be. The beer I used for my experiments was Guinness Extra Stout beer and JW Dundee’s Honey Brown by Genesee Brewery. The drip coffee that used was a 10oz cup of Illy Coffee Drip Dark . On my first attempt, I quickly noticed that even though I was using a dark roast drip coffee, the coffee aromas just weren’t cutting through the beer to have any significant impact. The drip coffee did seem to add a more bitter taste to the combination as well.
On my next attempt, I used a double shot of espresso. I did trial using Illy Dark Roast and Crema E Aroma by Lavazza. I found them to be fairly well balanced when combined with both beers, however for a near perfect balance I opted to use a medium roasted Maromas Arabea espresso. The Arabea combined with the Honey Brown, provided a smooth, pleasant taste experience with neither beverage over too ever bearing. So based on by experience, the combination of a stout beet and medium roast espresso seems to work best.
We actually have another staff member that enjoys this combination and has provided some of his own thoughts and recipes for this unique beverage combination. I urge you to read his blog as well, “Waiter, there's coffee in my beer”. While a coffee and beer mixture may not sound appealing to everybody, you should give it a try if you like the beverages on their own. Please, feel free to post a recipe of your own by commenting to this blog.