Dubbel Coffee Stout, Sharp's
Added: Wednesday, May 1st 2013
Sharp’s Dubbel Coffee Stout (7%)
Sharp’s head brewer Stuart Howe is not a big fan of stout – “uber-hopped, black-as-pitch imperial stouts which are so thick they resemble a non-Newtonian fluid,” he says – but he has set out to brew a version both he and other drinkers will enjoy. I first drank his coffee stout on draught during a beer tasting at the Driftwood Spars pub in Cornwall in March and now the beer has emerged in bottle-conditioned form as part of Sharp’s Connoisseur’s Choice range.
It takes a certain chutzpah to say you “dry hop” a beer with coffee beans but Stuart is always willing to go beyond brewing conventions and look for new flavours and character in his brews. To give his stout a fruity note, he uses a yeast strain from the Trappist brewery at the Rochefort abbey in Belgium. And along with pale ale malt, cara malt, crystal malt and roasted barley he has added Fazenda Das Almas coffee beans. The hops used are Centennial and Perle.
The coffee beans are added during the beer’s period of cold conditioning following fermentation. Stuart says he chose the Rochefort yeast culture “to boost ester levels to compete with the malty and burnt notes from the special malts. I also used a vigorous two-hour boil to flash off the most fervent burnt aromas. The coffee was used to work with the esters and alcohol to give the beer an Irish coffee feel”.
The ruby/black beer has a superb and stunning aroma of freshly-ground coffee with roasted grain, dark berry fruits and light floral and spicy hop notes. The palate is extremely dry and is dominated by roasted grain and coffee, with spicy hops building along with burnt fruits. The finish is dry, mellow as the malt develops a creamy note – more cappuccino than espresso now – with continuing contributions from coffee and spicy hops.
The beer is available in selected beer shops and restaurants and can be bought as a case of 12 online from www.sharpsbrewery.co.uk for £44; £44.99 including delivery to all parts of the UK.