Under former brewer Brad Rogers, Matilda Bay brewed Crema, a disconcertingly pale coffee beer. Brad described it at the time as being more of a latte than an espresso, and as good a beer as it was, it still took a little getting used to the the sensation of bold coffee flavours coming from a cloudy pale ale.
Since then though, coffee beer junkies have pretty much had to make do with the great imports available, but this winter at least two brewers are releasing coffee beers.
Matilda Bay has again added a shot to its beers, with brewer Scott Vincent collaborating with gourmet coffee brand Toby’s Estate. Brennan Fielding from Burleigh Brewing is also about to let loose his inner-barista when he and Kenton Campbell of Zarraffa’s Coffee come together to to brew South-East Queensland’s first locally-made black coffee lager early next week.
Interestingly, while this is happening locally, the US state of California is debating whether to ban caffeine in alcoholic drinks, including beer. The proposed legislation is a result of the rise of alcoholic energy drinks which are perceived to encourage young people to drink more. Just as in Australia, where the production of malt-based alcopops forced a change in the definition of beer that saw traditional Belgian Lambics redefined as alcopops, the California bill would ban the production of coffee beers.
Matilda Bay Longshot
Matilda Bay’s version, a limited-edition seasonal release Longshot, which Brewer Scott Vincent describes as a spiced, full-flavoured dark ale with notes of coffee and malt balancing to finish with a subtle hop bitterness.
“Our seasonal releases give us an opportunity to really explore some new flavours and up the ante when it comes to challenging our devout Matilda Bay drinkers. It’s also a chance to experiment and stretch the boundaries on what can make a great beer,” Scott said.
“In 2006 we released Crema which used coffee beans we roasted ourselves at The Garage but this time we wanted to work with the best in the coffee roasting business – Toby’s Estate – to help us produce an ale that would really pack a punch.”
Vincent and coffee roaster Toby Smith conducted the ‘cupping’ method to decide which coffee beans would ultimately be used, which the brewery describes as a process involving pouring water over beans placed in a cup and allowing a crust to form over the top. Upon breaking the crust, the brewers smelt the aromas of each coffee bean sample to help them decide which would become an ingredient in Longshot. A highly aromatic Ethiopian blend called Yirgacheffe was deemed the best choice.
Longshot also features a number of different roasted malts which the brewery says give the beer wonderful flavours of toffee and chocolate that perfectly complement the coffee notes. Longshot also uses an ale yeast fermented at moderate temperatures which gives it a lift in the ester profile – the fruity character that’s found in some ales.
With a coarse grind of the coffee beans and a cold extraction, the coffee was then added to the fermentation process and was carefully managed to keep the beer balanced.
Longshot is said to be a challenging beer for the discerning beer drinker and is an ideal beer for food matching particularly with chocolate dishes and beef. The tasting notes suggest trying Longshot with chargrilled Scotch fillet on a rosti stack with thyme mushrooms and sautéed spinach or 70 per cent Belgian cocoa chocolate (the bitterness balances wonderfully with the coffee notes in the beer) in a decadent dark chocolate and pear tart.
Longshot will only be available from Dan Murphy’s and will be available from 1 July 2010. Only 5,000 cases were produced.
Matilda Bay Longshot 345ml 6% ABV/1.6 standard drinks – RRP $19.99/four pack – available only at Dan Murphy’s while stocks last.
Release dates and distribution for Burleigh Brewing’s black coffee lager are to be advised.