I will admit it, I am a coffee addict. I absolutely love coffee and enjoy each and every cup I drink throughout the day. I have also been known to enjoy a coffee porter or two from time to time, however with that being said I have never experimented coffee in any of my homebrews. Traditionally coffee finds its way into darker beers usually porters and stouts as the darker malts used in them tend to compliment the roasty, coffee notes. Recently, I have been reading about brewers experimenting with coffee in other non traditional beers such as IPAs. I decided that I would experiment with a small batch of my Pale Ale and attempt to infuse it with some coffee flavors.
After doing some research online it appears that the two most common ways to extract the good coffee flavors without the bad (astringent) is by one of the following methods. Cold brew. This process calls for grinding up the appropriate amount of coffee and placing it in cold water for 24 hours, after which the coffee is seperated and the coffee is added to the beer usually before bottling or kegging. The second option, is to do a coffee bean dry hop where whole coffee beans are crushed slightly and added to the secondary or keg directly. When brewing a porter or a stout option one is available, however when attempting to add coffee to a pale ale, realistically the coffee bean dry hop is the only option in order to preserve the classic Pale Ale color profile.
Below are my tasting notes after adding 22 grams of slightly crushed Columbian finca villa loyola coffee beans and 1 oz of whole leaf Chinook Hops to a 2.5 gallon keg. The coffee beans were left in the dry hop for two days prior to being removed, the hops were left for the full 7 days.
Rich’s Coffee Pale Ale 2.0(WLP023) Tasting Notes:
Appearance: Pours a deep orange with shades of brown. A one finger slightly off white head dissipates slowly leaving the glass rimmed with lacing. (No discernible visual difference between this and the regular Rich’s Pale Ale.)
Smell: Mild cocoa, fresh flowers, orange and lemon notes are complimented by a sweet malt and fruit.
Taste: Smooth clean sweetness serves as a basis for the coffee notes which cut right through immediately as the beer hits the palate. Mild and restrained, but definitely noticeable the flavors work wonderfully with the fruitiness of the Burton Ale Yeast. Much less bitter than the SafeAle-05 batch which allows the interplay between the citrus and floral hop aromatics and the coffee to take center stage.
Mouthfeel: Moderately carbonated, nice interplay of hop aromatics and malt sweetness with a slight edge towards the hops.
Drinkability & Notes: This beer is absolutely fantastic, and has to be one of my favorite beers brewed ever! Im having a hard time believing that something as simple as adding a few grams of coffee to a dry hop could have such an amazing impact on the final beer. The coffee flavors meld beautifully with the malt sweetness and the subtle citrus and floral hop aromatics. The fruitiness of the Burton Ale yeast puts this beer over the top for me as pulls all the flavors together into one absolutely delicious sip. I will definitely be experimenting with additional coffee bean dry hops in the future, and am considering brewing 10 gallons of the Coffee Pale Ale for my wedding as I believe that the flavors of this beer will be enjoyed by a wide audience, not just the beer connoisseurs.