Wake Up and Taste the Coffee

Coronado Brewing Company Blue Bridge Coffee Stout

At the turn of this century it was considered innovative to make a stout with coffee. Now nearly every brewery is doing so and for good reason: the burnt, roasted flavor notes of coffee mirror the same flavors found in roasted barley and black patent, the types of barley commonly used in dark beers. Coronado Brewing Company out of San Diego/Coronado Island has really stepped up its game in recent years, brewing some interesting and very flavorful beers and its Blue Bridge Coffee Stout is a prime example. Part of its Crown Series, this newly released imperial stout at 8% ABV is a combination of roasted barley and Guatemalan coffee beans sourced from the brewery’s hometown coffee-shop, Café Moto. The dark roast coffee is cold brewed and added post fermentation. The coffee is thankfully very noticeable and I found as the beer warmed the flavors of the coffee intensified.

A Successful Experiment

Deschutes Brewery Armory XPA

If you like to experiment then here’s a fun one to check out. Bend, Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery Armory XPA was designed as a testing ground for emerging and developmental hops when it was first released in 2008 using the then experimental YCR-394 hop. Now known as Citra, any hophead should know what transpired afterward, as the aforementioned hop known for its citrusy kick went on to be featured in a bevy of hoppy beers. Added to the mix in Armory XPA are a combination of Nugget and Northern Brewer hops for bittering and Cascade, Centennial and Citra hops for flavoring delivering bright citrus notes. Take note that this beer is arriving in 6-packs for the first time. In the fall Deschutes will release its next iteration, featuring experimental hop #07270.

Sip and Savor

Indian Wells Whiskey Barrel Brew

One of the beer styles on the rise in popularity are those aged in bourbon or whiskey casks. Indian Wells Brewing, located in Inyokern, California, utilizes pure artesian spring water from its historic Indian Wells Spring that saved a gold rush party lost in Death Valley in 1849. In his Whiskey Barrel Brew Owner/Brewer Rick Lovett starts with a special amber style made with 2-row malt, Munich, and Caramel malts and Noble and Mt. Hood hops and then racks it into freshly decanted Evan Williams bourbon barrels where it lagers until ready. The outcome is an excellent “sipping beer” with a wonderful aroma of vanilla and caramel and flavor with just the right amount of bourbon notes that are complementary and not overpowering. Oh, and its 12% alcohol content makes it even more savory. This beer is made in very small batches, and in limited quantities, so if you find a bottle of it, don’t hesitate to snag it.

A Saison for the Season

Blackberry Farms Summer Saison

Saison means season so why not make a Saison for each season? That’s exactly what Blackberry Farms Brewing out of Walland, Tennessee has done, and with its expansion of its distribution now reaching 38 states a lot more of us will have the chance to enjoy them. With spring in full swing and summer just around the corner, I sampled Blackberry Farms Summer Saison. The first thing I noticed was that unlike most Saisons, this Belgian-style brewery adds a bit more hops, and this one is hopped with Australian Summer and Citra hops and logs in at 45 IBUs, giving it a noticeable, but not overpowering hop presence. The citrus nature of the hops and bottle conditioned effervescence also bring a refreshing quality while the delicate spice note from the warm fermentation of Classic Saison yeast will remind you of the style of beer you are drinking. The brewery tucked away on a 9,200-acre estate in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains exists in an area much better known for whiskey production, but if this seasonal offering is any indication, this beer maker will be giving the distillers some competition.