Finding beer balance: there’s more to life than beer, and more to beer than drinking it.
Every month beer bloggers from around the world gather to take part in the Session, sharing thoughts on a set topic. This time it’s Bryan from This Is Why I’m Drunk‘s turn to host.
He’s interested in balancing beer:
April’s topic is “Finding Beer Balance.” It’s a discussion I hope will offer a variety of responses as people consider their interests outside of finding the perfect pint.
Is beer your vice? Is beer your reward? Does beer really have to be either? Do you find lifestyle balance through work, hobbies, family…?
Beer’s one of my many interests and I never tire of reading about it, brewing it and of course drinking it.
But I also have plenty of other distractions to keep me busy and I don’t think I need to balance.
Beer’s found a natural, central but not overwhelming, role in my life and seems to have reached equilibrium with my other interests.
So life isn’t dominated by beer, but within beer itself I do, in an unplanned way, find balance.
Finding Beer Balance
Actually drinking the stuff is a very small part of it. Like Bryan I read a lot, but above all brewing has emerged as my big beer interest.
Brewing for the fun of it, not (just) to make beer.
As well as honing in on the beers I like (English ales), every now and again I balance that with something unexpected.
Which leads me to the rest of this post: a round-up of a recent experiment with coffee beer.
Brewing Balanced Beer
While not especially a fan of novelty ingredients I’ve got nothing not against them.
I recently tried out coffee in a brew, using this recipe:
66% Pale Ale
7% Crystal 120L
4% Roasted Barley
Mash Target Temperature
Nugget: 11 IBUs First Wort Hopped
Nugget: 10 IBUs for 20 mins
Nugget: 3 IBUs for 5 mins
Coffee, added at bottling
The idea was for a malty beer with mild hop presence leaving room for the bitter coffee.
Uncertain of how the coffee would turn out I split the batch in three and dosed each differently.
Here’s how the beers tasted.
Very malty, almost sweet although it does have a little hoppiness.
It’s very pleasantly bitter to drink, which I think is due to the roasted barley and dark crystal malt.
This is a very moreish beer that I’d say is balanced.
6g of Coffee per Litre of Beer
A subtle coffee smell is very much noticeable, at the expense of any beery aromas. It’s not especially pleasant: cold coffee rather than freshly roasted beans.
This makes sense. I added the coffee by cold steeping in the fridge for twenty four hours as I’d read that this gives a smooth flavour.
It’s a bit more acrid than the neat beer, and the coffee flavour is weak. It’d probably be hard to identify if I didn’t know it was there.
12g Coffee per Litre of Beer
Again, there’s a very strong cold-coffee aroma wafting out of the glass. This time it borders on intrusive.
Luckily it hasn’t infected the taste which is pretty good and coffee-like. I’m really glad I held back on hops as it’s a bitter beer anyway.
The ingredients have blended well and have made for a balanced, flavourful beer. However…
On balance I prefer the plain beer.
It’s not that the coffee is unpleasant, or even unbalanced, just that it tastes too much like coffee.
It’s great for a glassful, but after that you just want something more refreshing.
The undosed batch, on the other hand, brewed slightly weaker would make a delicious easy drinking beer.