One brewery that makes great beer as part of their regular line up is Surly Brewing Company. I recently did a locals for locals trade with a guy who is new to trading for some bombers from Pipeworks. While I knew we were doing extras, I didn't expect him to send me 2 cans of Surly Coffee Bender and 2 cans of Surly Furious IPA. Surly is well known for some of their bigger beers that people will readily look for. They have an entire day dedicated to their giant Russian Imperial Stout called Darkness. While I have and have had this beer before, I'm just really happy to get my hands on some of their regular brews.
I had Coffee Bender one time while doing a bottle share with a few friends. If memory serves me correctly, it was one of the best coffee beers I'd ever drank. Coffee and beer isn't exactly a brand new concept. Lots of stouts and porters feature a wide variety of coffee flavors. They are typically combined with a lot of chocolate and other bold flavors. Surly takes a different approach to their coffee beer. Instead of a stout, they brew it as a brown ale. The more tame malts are less dominant of the palate which really allows the beer to feature the coffee. Additionally, to make sure this brew is dominated by coffee, Surly says they cold steep the brew in coarsely ground coffee beans from Guatemala for 24 hours.
Appearance - The beer pours out a dark color, but it has a lighter quality to it. A lot of coffee based beers try to go for that dark black oil consistency. This one uses a much lighter approach to deliver a very dominant coffee blend. There is a light tannish head that develops on top. A nice sticky residue and excellent lacing develops on the side of the glass.
Smell - The aroma is dominated by the huge smell of coffee. However, it's not quite that acidic bitter feel. It instead has a more cream and sugar aroma to it. It is much more reminiscent of smelling an iced coffee blend or frappuccino. There are no apparent hops on the nose: instead, you get a big malty backbone. Finally, I think I detect a slight vanilla aroma coming off the brew as well.
Taste - The beer starts with a crisp and clean taste. The malts don't dominate here. They back off to allow the coffee to take center stage. The coffee builds as the beer develops; however, it never overwhelms the taste buds. There are some lighter sweet notes that give you the feeling that this isn't just a black coffee beverage. You get the light cream and sugar notes. The coffee flavor does manage to kick up slightly more at the end with a little bit of that acidic flavor. Perhaps this is the coffee flavors mixing with the hops. The coffee lingers on the aftertaste.
Mouthfeel - I think this beer qualifies as the most crisp and clean coffee focused beer I've ever consumed. The composition never becomes too syrupy which really lends itself to having this beer feel more like an iced coffee beverage than a beer. The booze hangs back, so you really don't get a dominant beer feel here.
There is no sign that Surly has any intentions of distributing to the DC Metro area any time soon, but they have a big fan that's hoping it's not completely outside the realm of possibility. If you live in an area that has Surly on the shelves all the time, then I hope you count your blessings. You have a great brewery available to you on a very consistent basis.
|Trade the Coffee Bender came in|