Mix your drinks: Coffee and alcohol

I dabbled with coffee beer a while back (and more recently I made a visit to the brewery who put together the Giraffe beer I tried before my own little experiment).

It didn’t taste very nice.

But don’t let my experiments deter you from what is actually a much more appropriate approach to mixing a stimulant and depressant than vodka and Red Bull.

Image Source: Open Windows

You don’t need to polarise coffee and alcohol on your daily schedule.

Here’s an interesting looking recipe from Cafe Grumpy – it was used in a coffee cocktail competition, though I had to pull this from my Google Reader because the site appears to no longer exist…

The Italian Royal Family Punch
1/2 oz lemon
3/8 oz Passion syrup
1 oz red wine sorbet
3/4 oz coffee concentrate
1/2 oz Zucca
1/2 oz Smith and Cross Rum
3/4 oz English Harbour 5 year
Shake it up & top with scoop of sorbet

The coffee concentrate used a Chemex brewed Yirgacheffe.

“I was able to play with the coffee concentrate a little more, and found that it lacked the acidity that I was looking for, so I took a couple of extra steps and they resulted in a truly wonderful base to work from. I blended and iced a Chemex batch to bring out more of the pleasant acidity that Ethiopian coffees are known for, as well as left the concentrate unfiltered. Normally the coffee would pass through both a paper filter as well as a cloth pad, but I cut out that step. Straining through a french press screen, I found so many more flavors present than we saw with just the filtered concentrate. When the resulting coffee from these two methods were blended together, we were ready to move forward.”

There are some more conventional coffee cocktail recipes here, and some other coffee recipes (including some interesting looking hot drinks and cocktails) here, and some more from The Hairpin, that all look a whole lot more palatable than home made coffee beer.

Got any interesting coffee related beverages worth sharing? Hit up the comments.

Coffee beer review: Bought and DIY

I like coffee. I like beer. I’ve often thought there might be some sort of correlation between people who drink espresso and people who like stout (and I suspect people who enjoy dark chocolate). I don’t mind espresso – but I’m not a huge fan of beers at the stout end of the spectrum (they taste like vegemite). I like lightish beers. Though I’m increasingly deciding that I’m a pale ale fan. Even if it’s just for the assonance in the name.

When we were on our coffee crawl on Saturday we popped in to a little boutique beer retailer next door to Cup. And I couldn’t help but notice this in their fridge. I’d heard tell of such wonderous creations on the internet. But this was only the second time I had seen them in the flesh.

So I thought, in the name of science, I’d purchase one and put it through its paces.

I brought it home, and because I’m classy, I poured it into a glass.

This froth was unavoidable. I poured it as beers should be poured. And it just expanded – like one of those black pellets that turns into a snake (I haven’d played with one of those for ages, do they still make them?).

Here are some facts about this beer:

When it settled this looked weird. Instead of having head this beer had crema.

It tasted ok. It wasn’t the way I’d choose to drink my coffee. Or my beer. But it was an interesting experiment in bringing the two together. It probably made a beer at the darker end of the spectrum a little more accessible to my palate. You couldn’t really taste the coffee – or I couldn’t – unless the coffee was roasted really dark, at which point it just tastes like ashy bitterness. And it had that in spades.

There were a couple of things I thought might immediately improve this drop. The beer used Zaraffa beans. Now, I don’t want to cast aspersions on this fine institute.

Well. Who am I kidding. Zaraffa is a bit rubbish. Comparatively rubbish, anyway. Aspersions cast. I roasted my own beans up. A nice little PNG Marawaka Estate bean grown using seeds from the famous blue mountains of Jamaica. I went for a fairly fresh from the roaster (two days), fairly light roast – and because I didn’t want the coffee to be too bitter, I ground it a little coarse and up-dosed. I wanted to err on the side of under extracting and I didn’t want too much body – because I didn’t want it completely overpowering the flavour of the beer. I pulled a double shot in a little under 25 seconds. If I was doing this experiment again I might go for my standard fine grind, long pour – because the volume of the shot posed problems for trying to keep the beer at drinkable temperature.

The second step I took was using a beer base that I know I enjoy. A Fat Yak. Fresh from the freezer. Chilled because hot coffee + cold beer = lukewarm coffee beer. An equation I wished to avoid.

The recipe for success:

The beer and coffee went a bit nuts when I mixed them. These bubbles were pretty oily.

Once they settled it wasn’t so bad. The head was very strongly coffee flavoured. With a beer undertone rather than overtone.

The beer itself was odd. The coffee came through. It cut through actually. It was quite obvious. The two flavours sat next to each other a little on the tongue. Rather than merging. But it was pretty easy to drink, and I didn’t gag at all. If I was happy to chill the shot before mixing them I reckon I might even do it again.

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