Saturday, September 18, 2010

GABF, Day Two: Cup of Joe, Anyone?

The first time I put Cigar City Brewing's Final Push to my lips, I had to hold it up and make sure I was drinking what I thought. Here, after all, was a Russian imperial stout, and it was blacker than night. But the predominant taste was bold and roasted coffee. And, man, was it good.

Among all the brewing trends on display at the 29th Great American Beer Festival, which ends tonight, none seem more pronounced than the clever and tasty ways that beer makers are meshing coffee with their products.

A few years ago, coffee's main purpose seemed to be an add-on to porters, and the java taste was still faint, overshadowed by darker malts that seemed to compete with it for featured flavor status. Now, the beers, whether porters or stouts or bocks, should just be called "coffee beers," as that is their dominant personality trait.

What's more, there's nuances to this coffee. Pizza Port Carlsbad, for example, has its Coffee Monster, in which you can actually taste a slight sweetness of cream balancing out the heavily roasted aspect. Boulder's Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery is offering Onslaught, in which the coffee comes on thick and hard but actually fades into hops that appear on the back taste.

Regardless, if you like the combination of coffee and beer, these are high times to enjoy things - and to see how brewers will move this trend forward in the coming years.

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