Tuesday, May 21, 2013
I'm new to drinking coffee, but I am definitely a fan of coffee beer. After having a sip of Dogfish Head Brewing - Miles Davis Bitches' Brew that was poured through espresso beans a few weeks ago, I've been looking for a coffee-flavored-beer fix. I missed out on the opportunity to try Sixpoint Brewing Company's 3Beans as well, only furthering my want for coffee and beer.
So, naturally, when I stumbled upon the gold-foil topped bottle from Peak Organic Brewing Company with the words Espresso Amber written on it, I didn't think twice about bringing it home.
It is somewhat unusual to come across a beer involving coffee that isn't dark beer. As a whole, beers brewed with coffee tend to be on the heavier side in terms of taste - the complexity of the coffee blends easily into a beer brewed with darker roasted malts. Most of the coffee beers I've tasted are dark, sticky and have a great roastiness without the bitterness of coffee, which is why I picked up on them even before becoming a coffee drinker.
When I poured out the Espresso Amber I was reminded by its dark amber color that isn't what kind of coffee beer this is. It's something completely different. This beer is described by Peak as "a robust amber ale" and the taste as "malty."
Instead of overwhelming me with a plume of coffee aroma, this beer offered up a lot more subtle profile. There was definitely a malt-forward aroma, and it's almost like the coffee came in as a gentle suggestion towards the end of each whiff. The taste was unusually balanced - with a great wash of malt and complementary coffee flavors. However, the coffee flavor seemed just perfectly distributed throughout what would have been a good beer to begin with.
My biggest compliment - and complaint - about this beer is that it is very, very easy to drink. The mouthfeel is thin so it is refreshing to drink, and its ease across your palate will allow you to drink it more quickly than you'd expect. So much so that I was at the bottom of my pint glass before I even began to think about describing it. Thankfully, the ABV is 6.8%, so you won't be in too much trouble if it just goes down way too smoothly.
For those not familiar with Peak (because they don't have brewery tours, etc. like most of the other breweries in town), they are Portland's quiet, yet solid organic brewery making some really exceptionally tasty brews while keeping with their pledge to use organic ingredients.
This beer is not just an interesting beer and coffee combo, but the product of local collaboration. It is brewed with organic fair-trade espresso from local coffee roaster Coffee By Design. Because of their partnership with Transfair (a non-profit that helps to promote and grow fair trade and wages for farmers), this is the first Fair Trade Certified beer to be brewed in the U.S. While I'm not sure it should replace your morning beverage, it certainly is an interesting way to showcase a different side of coffee.
Carla Companion is a craft beer lover and investigator of all things beer. She started a craft beer website and blog thebeerbabe.com in 2007, sharing her thoughts as she explored what was new in beer, as well as brewery visits, trips and "beer adventures." Moving to Portland in 2009, she found herself surrounded by the Maine beer community and has been exploring it ever since.
In her blog, Carla profiles craft beer (and some mead and cider, too) being brewed in Maine, as well as looks into the people, places and stories behind the beer that makes the community so vibrant. Join Carla on her beer adventures and advice on where to get the best, newest, and most interesting fermented drinks around.
Carla can be contacted at askthebeerbabe [at] gmail.com or on twitter at @beerbabe.