Terre Haute Living December 2016 - Page 12

COLUMNS BEER F(L)IGHT! BILL RILEY Parent hack: Coffee beers There are many ways to take our coffee ... and our beers A s I’m writing this, I’m holding my 10-day-old daughter. And, as these things work, I’m not holding a beer. It’s a joyous time, but it’s also a time when sleep is a distant memory. I’m barely remembering to drink water and eat food at meal times, let alone kick back with a beer or two. When you have to stay up for a 2 a.m. feeding, drinking a beer at 10 is a bad idea — I’d be asleep on the couch in an instant. So, here’s a parent hack: coffee beers. Yes! They do taste great. Yes! There are many to choose from. And, most importantly, yes! They do have caffeine. This month we’re going to wake up with coffee beers. And, since there are many ways we take our coffee, we’ll have two beers facing off in three categories: Room for Cream, Flavo red Coffee, and Strong and Black. One note this month: I ventured outside of Terre Haute for three of the beers, but they should be readily available at any major Indianapolis liquor store. ROOM FOR CREAM Winner: Tin Man Café Leche Milk & Coffee Porter — This category is home to some of the sweeter beers this month due to the lactose sugar being the fuel for the yeast in fermentation. Think of it this way: That’s how you make caramel out of condensed milk — you caramelize the sugars in the milk. 12 Terre Haute Living • December 2016 Evansville’s Tin Man has produced a milk porter that still focuses on the bitterness of the coffee, making the sugary lactose a nice balance rather than a sickly sweet mess. Loser: Stone Coffee Milk Stout — A fine beer, but it’s not as remarkable as Tin Man’s offering. The same highlights occur with this one—a nice balance, excellent creamy aftertaste — but the mouthfeel is where Tin Man wins out. Where Café Leche is thick, the Coffee Milk Stout is rather thin, limiting the creaminess to the taste. FLAVORED COFFEE Winner: Taxman Bean Counter — Taxman is really experimenting with the Belgian styles, as it’s unusual to get a combination of Belgian yeast and coffee. The coffee flavor is deep — perhaps because the coffee is added later rather than during brewing — but the Belgian characteristics bring out some wonderful notes of vanilla. Another unicorn from Taxman. Loser: Quaff On Common Necessity Hazelnut Coffee Porter — This one finishes too sweetly for my tastes, but then again I drink straight espresso on a regular basis. Quaff On does a nice job of pairing the roasted malts with the hazelnut here to produce an interesting flavor profile, but the finish is all sugar here. I’ve heard you can get this on nitro at Big Woods Brewery sometimes, and I have to think the nitro would mellow the sweet- ness out a bit. That’d be worth a try! STRONG AND BLACK Winner: Oskar Blues Hotbox Coffee Porter — This has the potential to be a sticky sweet mess. At 6.5 percent ABV, it’s at the upper end of the alcohol content for a porter, and there’s definitely a boozy aftertaste. But, with the cold brew coffee added later — not during the fermentation — it allowed the coffee to stand up to the syrupy alcohol. Two bold flavors are at war here, but there’s an interesting balance. Loser: Sixpoint 5 Beans — Here’s what it looks like when that balance isn’t achieved. There’s simply too much going on in this imperial porter for my tastes. Every bit of the 10 percent ABV can be sensed here — there’s even a bit of a burn — and the vanilla, cocoa, coffee and cardamom come together to produce a syrupy mess. In fact, the biggest flavor I got from this one was black licorice — not usually a crowd pleaser. And, at 10 percent, I’m not sure the caffeine will win the war against the booze. Bill Riley is a writer and a professor at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College. His book, The Milan Miracle: The Town That Hoosiers Left Behind is out now from Indiana University Press. Find it on Amazon, tweet him about it or beer at @ billplusbeard. tribstar.com/terrehauteliving