Tasting Notes with Jim Beauregard: A little espresso in your beer? Please!

By JIM BEAUREGARD October 10. 2017 8:23PM

So, last week marked a little change of pace, as we took a look at the world of spirits. This week, we are back to more familiar territory, namely beer.

There are, of course, those purists out there who don’t want anything mixed in with their beer, but there are many others who find the addition of different types of ingredients intriguing. Fruit flavors, pumpkin spice, and increasingly, coffee.

Now, I am a big espresso fan. In fact I start each day with a small cup of that magic brew. I get my stash by making regular trips to the North End in Boston, to Polcari’s Coffee on Salem Street. They supply the beans, I do the grinding and voilà, a piping hot cup of espresso every morning.

So when I noticed an “espresso Amber” beer on store shelves, I thought it might be worth a look. This one is an amber ale that is brewed with organic fair trade espresso obtained by the brewery from the Irving Farm Coffee Roasters. The beer is made with Munich malt, giving it a solid foundation, and then there’s the espresso tossed into the mix.

Peak Espresso Amber, the label tells me, is made in partnership with Transfair, an nonprofit organization that strives toward giving farmers and farm workers a livable wage, also supporting efforts at environmental stewardship and sustainable farming. The label also tells me that this is the first Fair Trade Certified beer brewed in the United States.

Peak Brewing Company Espresso Amber: Certified USDA organic ale with organic coffee, 6.8% alcohol by volume. www. peakbrewing.com. This is a deep amber-colored ale, in the IPA ballpark, maybe a double IPA. A light tan head, diminishing over time, creamy but with bubbles popping out here and there.

The first thing you notice on the nose is that it shouts espresso. If you are a coffee lover you’ll find that a very pleasing note. If not, or if your taste doesn’t extend to very dark Italian coffees, or, if you prefer hoppy beers, stop now and look elsewhere. If, however, this is right up your alley, you will not be disappointed.

If you give the nose a minute or so to open up, you will also find the malt flavors behind it, that run a range from bread to toast, as well as some roasted notes, all blending in a very nice combination. We usually find this kind of intense flavor in Porter or other darker type beer, but this is a dry beer, with medium bitterness and acidity, well-balanced alcohol and medium body, with medium texture but a flavor profile that is remarkably intense, carrying the espresso right through to the finish. Along with it, not quite as insistently, but definitely there, is lots of flavor from the Munich malt. This is a beer that holds the flavors, as well as the intensity, right through a very long finish. It will stay with you long after you swallow.

You can pair this with anything that has coffee flavors in it like coffee cakes for dessert. Delicious.

If curious, you can check them out at www.peakbrewing.com.

Contact Jim Beauregard at tastingnotesnh@aol.com


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