I’m writing this week’s penultimate episode of No More Heroes from New Zealand, so it’s apt that this week’s beer is of Kiwi origin. I say penultimate because we’ve decided to rest this column in favour of something fresh, new and “educational” that’ll be arriving on your in front of your faces in just a few weeks' time.
Coffee is becoming an increasingly prevalent adjunct in craft beer and not just in the more obvious coffee-infused dark beers like the one I’m reviewing today. It’s also ably used in pale ales, red ales and even dry-hopped sour beers. As an ingredient, coffee can be as versatile as malt or hops, with the ability to impart flavours on a spectrum that ranges from roasted and chocolate through to floral and even herbal.
But just like hops, coffee is an extremely volatile ingredient, with the flavours it imparts dissipating quickly. So unless you’re not particularly fond of coffee, don’t hang on to beers that use it, drink them quickly before that flavour disappears.
Hop Federation, which is based in Riwaka at the top of the South Island (also in New Zealand’s famous hop growing region), uses coffee in one of the most obvious senses in this stout. It adds a serious amount of roast and poke to the herbaceous, gooseberry-tinged notes provided by the hops. This combination of ingredients binds to form a robustly satisfying and moreish beer that drinks easy despite its weighty 7% ABV.
The good news is that, thanks to the folks at Hop Burns & Black shipping it over to the UK, you don’t have to travel to New Zealand like I did to enjoy it yourself. Just make sure you drink it fresh.
Music Pairing: The Fall – Totally Wired
As well as cramming in heaps of flavour (Christ, I’ve been here 5 minutes and I’m already using the lingo), the Hop Federation Coffee Stout packs in a serious amount of caffeine. These days I’m as a much a third-wave coffee junkie as I am a craft beer enthusiast and I’m confident in my ability to chain several strong coffees in the morning. In fact, it’s a necessity.
However after 500ml of this particular beer I was buzzing. In fact you could say I was totally wired, which is as good an excuse as any to bring out this absolute belter of a record from Mark. E. Smith and the gang. Just remember: You don’t have to be weird to be wired (although take it from me, it helps).
Find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. You can find the roasty, toasty glory that is the Hop Federation Coffee Stout and more from the Hop Federation range exclusive at HB&B - get it in store or head online to get it delivered to your door.