By Chris Washenberger and Chris Bruns
Denver Beer Company held a coffee beer fest on Saturday morning and my wife and I were lucky enough to attend. It was an excellent morning. As we pulled up to park, something seemed strange. There was tons of parking and probably about 20 people lined up outside. This is strange only due to the fact that I am prepared for lines a few hundred deep at Colorado beer festivals. We considered ourselves fortunate and jumped in line.
At the door we were met by DBC’s owner, Charlie Berger. He was handing out the coffee mugs that were going to be our tasting cups as well as a list of the beers available for tasting. We grabbed a seat at the bar (!?!) and settled in. Full disclosure: It was just after 9am and since CODA Coffee was pouring, I actually started with just a plain old coffee. After jolting myself into the world of the living, it was time for beer. And what beer there was! DBC was serving up unlimited refills of six coffee beers (plus one de-caffe version for those who started getting a little shaky) and, although they all shared the common ingredient of coffee, all featured a unique flavor.
Stormy Winter Stout is a stout that had been oak-aged for five months in a barrel that first contained red wine and then contained coffee beans. The end result is a beer that features an almost La Folie-like tartness with an underlying coffee flavor.
Espresso Milk Stout is a cask conditioned stout with Brazilian espresso beans from Paris on the Platte. This was the most “coffee-like” of all the beers. Really, it is more coffee than beer; it tastes like cold, dark, roasted espresso with very little of the stout coming through.
Swineheitsgebot is a smoked lager that was aged with coffee beans and infused with bacon. The funny thing about this beer is that it featured three strong flavors—smoke, coffee, and bacon—but, when they’re put together, they seem to keep each other in check so that no flavor dominates. One would think that a beer with so many wacky additions would make for a wacky taste but Swineheitsgebot’s coffee and smoke are only supporting flavors and the bacon is most prevalent as an aftertaste when breathing out after a swallow. Overall, the flavor of Swineheitsgebot is that of the traditional, German lager with mild deviations.
Paris’ Neighborhood Roast Coffee Stout is another stout brewed with Brazilian beans. It is a lot like Espresso Milk Stout except that the “stout-ness” is more noticeable on the palate. If Espresso Milk Stout is black coffee, this beer is the cream version.
Cascara IPA was brewed with cascara—the dried fruit shell one is left with when the coffee bean has been extracted. There is a cherry and tobacco quality to this beer thus making Cascara IPA the liquid equivalent of smoking a hookah.
Novo Roast IPA is the same as Cascara IPA except with roasted Ethiopian coffee beans. The beans do much to balance the fruit and tobacco essence of the cascara thus making for a less intense drinking experience.
The seventh, non-caffeinated beer on tap was Pueblo Chile Beer served with a splash of Bloody Mary mix.
As we settled in, we realized that it was not getting much busier. Again, this seemed weird. A beerfest where you cannot escape the beer-farty guy that seems to be everywhere you are? Unheard of! Charlie happened by and we asked him about it. The intent of the event was rather than a traditional blow-out festival to have a nice beer breakfast. “…an event where someone could sit and read the newspaper…” Essentially, 80 tickets were sold and it was a really pleasant event. It was friendly and DBC presented (again) as the ideal neighborhood brewery.
With the admission price you got all of the beer you could drink, a really tasty breakfast burrito and the coup de grace, all of the bacon you could shove in your pork-hole. Chile Billy was there frying like he had something chasing him. It was delicious and about 45 pounds of it were served by the end of the event.
In all, I loved this event. I wish they would do it once a month. I might even start reading the paper.