I don’t drink caffeine. Mostly because it gives me a nauseous feeling, but it also screws with my sleep and even my emotions. I thought having an infant son would change that, but it hasn’t… yet. Love the smell, like the taste, can’t stand everything that happens after that first taste.
And so I’ve been cautious about the coffee beers. It’s unclear how caffeinated they are, but there must be some of that evil drug in there. And my experiences with Four Loko remind me that mixing your uppers with your downers is never a good idea.
A couple beers finally enticed me across the aisle. AleSmith Speedway Stout was the first. The Speedway is nutty, chocolatey, alcohol-y, winter wonderland of a beer. I should be careful with ‘winter’ — there are none of those cheesy winter spices that we’ll be inundated with over the next couple of months. It’s really just espresso, chocolate and beer, but those are big flavors, and they come in order. You start with the sweet of the chocolate, move into the sweet that comes from the malt, seamlessly transition into the bitterness of coffee, and end with the bitterness of hops.
It just makes so much sense, as a bundle of tastes.
But ask any coffee lover about how the drink should be soiffed, and a divide immediately emerges. On one side you have your espresso lovers, the ones that turn up their noses at milk, sugar, or any other additives with which you’d like to spoil your beverage. On the other side you have the cappuccino crowd, and they’ll gladly blend it, mix it, drop a little syrup in there, freeze it, whatever.
Call Speedway Stout your cappucino lover’s beer. And maybe call Jolly Pumpkin‘s De Viento — a coffee sour saison can you believe it — the espresso lover’s beer. Because the beer behind the coffee taste is a sour saison, you don’t get the sweetness from the De Viento. You get coffee roast up front, and then you’re left with a tart, peppery saison at the end. It’s espresso all the way through.
The De Viento isn’t perfect. It’s sort of stuck in between a sour saison and a coffee stout, and it doesn’t quite make emphatic decisions. And I’m just a baby when it comes to the style. But, if coffee lovers are any guide, there are probably two archetypes of coffee beers that follow the espresso / cappuccino divide in the breakfast drink.
Then again, if coffee lovers are any guide, maybe we should avoid this style all together, what do you think…