The Lighter Side of Coffee Beer

By D.J. Costantino | Megan Swann


D.J. Costantino
Megan Swann

Head brewer at Denver's TRVE Brewing, Zach Coleman didn’t want to make another coffee porter. “They’re ubiquitous. I didn’t feel like I had anything to add,” says the Rising Star roaster, who opted instead to brew a mixed culture amber ale infused with coffee from nearby Huckleberry Roasters. Coleman's Burning Off Impurities is wild fermented, slightly malty and sour with a pleasant acidity—ripe for the addition of a fruit-forward coffee. 

To start the process, the folks at Huckleberry bring over anywhere from five to 10 coffees to sample. “Pairing good coffee with good pale ales, saisons, or sours makes for some great post-roast day drinking,” says Kevin Nealon, a fellow Rising Star and Huckleberry’s roaster and green buyer. For the infusion, Coleman experimented with whole bean, as well as hot steeping, but found fresh, coarsely ground coffee contributed less harsh, acrid notes and let the coffee shine. Borrowing a technique from specialty coffee, he steeps the grounds in the beer overnight, like an amped-up cold brew. The next day, he filters out the grounds before carbonating and bottling the beer. The resulting brew is a light, refreshing take on coffee beer, with coffee aromatics on the nose and a fruity pickup.


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