Two beers spiked with coffee came my way recently – both donated by the brewers, I hasten to add. Coffee’s one of those flavours that is a natural bedfellow for stouts and porters – probably because you get those smoky, aromatic notes in darker beers anyway –so as a flavour it’s a no-brainer. Team up with your local Coffee purveyor (as in both these cases), and you’ve got a community project, to boot.
First up, Tap East’s Coffee In The Morning (5.5%abv). Hiding away like a bijou oasis of calm and casks in London’s sprawling Stratford City Shopping Centre, Coffee In The Morning seems like both a brave and natural beer to bless the brewkit with. With coffeebeans supplied by fellow Stratford indies Grind, you can sense the bustle of London in it. The label is an explosion of coffee-stained paranoia – you wonder whether to pour it into a mug or a glass.
For new brewers they’ve done a really good job. The nose was much fruitier than I expected, which probably vouches for the quality of the stout to begin with. There’s not much in the way of a head, but it tastes great. The body is full, sweet at first then nutty – then finishing sweet again with a grainy, mocha-like note. Hidden in there somewhere is an almost Malteser-esque crunch, and the whole package ends up both surprisingly complex and assured – and with plenty of espresso voltage. It’s a wonderful Coffee Stout, and one that I’d love to try on Cask, just to get that extra bit of condition to fluff everything up. Well done, guys.
Rooster’s have recently bottled a few of their beers (more on the others to come), and Londinium (5.5% abv) is a welcome addition to their core range. I first encountered it last autumn on Cask around Leeds, and although it’s initially jarring to drink a dark Rooster’s beer (but welcome, obviously), it would seem that those initial casks were pretty much prototypes. The recipe has now been refined, and, with coffee supplied by nearby Taylor’s of Harrogate, the final results are out there for coffee-loving fiends to get their mitts on.
The result? Well, I hate to stereotype, but Coffee In The Morning’s northern review-mate seems much more relaxed brew. Tan of head and hiding a ruby streak when held up to the light, there’s distinct malt in the nose; smoky, rich, deep and again, nutty – specifically Hazelnuts this time. It carries on in the same vein in the sip, but adds a dose of sweetness to proceedings before drying out with waves of mild, comforting cappuccino. It works well in the bottle and I’m sure will win over a section of fans of Rooster’s who were perhaps looking for something more robust for the colder months.
The coffee scene and beer scene share common ground; both have fans and obsessives, and both have a world of flavour that mass-produced brands don’t achieve. Bespoke Coffee – and Tea – merchants are now popping up at Independent beer festivals such as IndyMan, and it’s great to see the two linking up and working together for the community.
*Don’t forget, of course, recent adventures in Tea and beer such as this and this. For other northern coffee-spiked brews, seek out Saltaire’s Hazlenut Coffee Porter, Tyne Bank’s Mocha Milk Stout and Summer Wine’s excellent Barista.