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Coffee Amber Ale Recipe

I’ve been in the mood to test my homebrewing skills a creativity a bit and I decided that a coffee flavored beer that is amber in color was an excellent challenge. Most coffee beers are stouts or porters, which makes the color addition from coffee unnoticeable. What I wanted to do is make something similar to Peak Organic’s Espresso Amber Ale. It’s an excellent beer and captures the espresso flavor and keeps the color not black.

My homebrew store recently started carrying coffee malt so I decided to give it a try. It comes in at 175 °L, which is pretty dark. After purchasing a one pound bag of it I did find that it has some coffee aroma, but not enough. My wife is a big coffee drinker and grinds her own beans. This lead me to take 4oz. of cold water and 10 whole coffee beans. I put the beans in the water and left them in the water for a week. I dumped the results before I realized that I should grab a picture, but the color addition from the whole bean was not very high. However, the aroma and taste were very noticeable. Better yet, the aroma and flavor additions happened after a day or so, and the color didn’t change until day three.

I then structured a recipe around what I wanted to the malt to taste like. I knew that I wanted a toasty, roasty flavor. I also needed some sweetness to balance out the harsh roasted flavors. I had some crystal malts on hand to give some sweetness and light color additions as well as half a pound of Carabrown to give a toasted flavor. Below is what I came up with.

  • 10 lbs. 2-row
  • 1/2 lb. Carabrown (60 °L)
  • 1/2 lb. Coffee malt
  • 1/4 lb. Crystal 80
  • 1/2 lb. Light brown sugar
  • 1/2 oz. Magnum @ 60 mins
  • 1/2 oz. Magnum @ 15 mins

The final beer is expected to have the following specs:

  • OG: 1.059
  • FG: 1.015
  • ABV: 5.83%
  • IBUs: 36.5
  • SRM: 17.37

According to Wikipedia and a number of other sources that I checked amber ales can fall in anywhere between 15-33 SRM. I went on the lighter side so that any color addition from the whole beans would still keep the beer in the proper range.

I plan on fermenting the beer in the primary for two weeks and then move it over to a secondary. Two days before kegging I will add a handful of whole coffee beans to the secondary that were sanitized by sitting in whiskey or vodka for a day. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. It’s a very non-typical beer for me as I generally don’t like adding extras to a beer. I’ve made one coffee beer before, a stout, and it turned out wonderfully. I hoping that I will like this one just as much and that I learn some things from it. It’s always fun to test yourself and take a bit of a chance.

Beer Review #236 Amber 25

I’ve been a big fan of Stoudts Brewing Company for as long as I have been drinking craft beer. Stoudts was my local regional brewery in college and I have talked with the owner Ed Stoudt a few times. He’s a beer loving man who knows what he has, and doesn’t want to grow past the regional size. Stoudts Amber 25 is their 25th Anniversary Amber Ale. Yeah, they have been around that long. It’s funny to think that in the craft beer world, 10 years is a long time, let alone 25 years. There are only a few other industries that have such a short lifespan up to this point.

Amber 25 pours a nice amber color with a thin white head. This beer is perfectly clear. In my opinion, amber beers are my favorite type of beer to have be clear because as light pass through the clear liquid, it picks up a richness. The nose is packed with malty flavors. There are lots of great toasty and bready flavors in there, all of which I loved.

This ale starts with a nice malt flavor that features a few different degrees of caramel (no toffee). It then fades into some bready background flavors and exits. I didn’t notice any hop flavor to make note of. As the fall really starts to set in the flavor combination of strong malts really is a perfect fit. I can imagine sitting down on my deck outside as the sun is setting and the first cool breeze of the night sets in and sipping on this listening to some music.

This is a very nice beer. It doesn’t stand out if any particular way, but it is solid and drinkable. Congrats to Stoudts for being open for 25 years and here’s to another 25. (more…)

Beer Review #119 Sierra 30th Anniversary: Fritz And Ken’s Ale

This is another beer that I tried when I was at Max’s Taphouse. It was actually the beer I was drinking while my wife was having her Espresso Amber Ale. This beer is named for Firtz Maytag (rescuer of Anchor Steam) and Ken Grossman (founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company). This was actually a collaboration brew between the two breweries but is mainly brewed by Fritz, brewing on the Sierra brewhouse.

This beer pours a nice black color which pays homage to the early brews the two men brewed when starting their companies. It comes with a slightly tan head and the head is super fluffy. The nose is big and bold; fully of spicy hops and malt.

Just as the nose promised, the flavor follows in a big, bold fashion. There is a nice grainy, maltyness followed by a nice spicy hop ending. The beer flows very naturally which is a hard feat to do with such bold flavors. This beer comes in at an impressive 10.2% ABV and gives a warming feeling all the way down. They labeled this beer as a black barleywine, which is totally appropriate. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. For such a big beer it was very tasty and balanced. I’m sure these are starting to get in short supply so grab one while you can. I really liked it and this beer should age very nicely. (more…)

Beer Review #118 Espresso Amber Ale

When I reviewed Pipeline Porter a few weeks ago I talked about how much I liked a coffee flavor/odor in beer while I don’t actually drink coffee as a normal drink. I first had Espresso Amber Ale when I was visiting Max’s Taphouse in Fell’s Point, which is a “hip” area in Baltimore. My wife actually ordered it and loved it. I saw this beer at my local beer store not soon after our trip to Max’s Taphouse and bought a four pack of it. This beer comes from Peak Organic Brewing Company of Portland, Maine. I’ve reviewed several other of their beers and enjoyed them all. This, however, is my first non-seasonal brew of theirs.

This amber ale pours a nice amber color and is perfectly clear. It has a thin, off-white head to accompany the liquid. The nose is super roasty coffee. I didn’t get any malt or hops, just coffee. Like the Pipeline Porter, this coffee is very fresh and smells fantastic.

On the first taste I got a very slight sweetness on the front, but coffee dominates everything else. I really dig this beer. As a homebrewer I am still scratching my head on how they were able to get such a strong coffee flavor without giving it a dark color. This beer isn’t heavy either, like a coffee stout would be. It fits into the medium mouthfeel neighborhood and is something super unique. One other note with this beer, it is made with locally roasted fair trade coffee and comes in at 6.8% ABV. If you see this beer try it out, it is something totally different in a beer market that does not have a lot of standout unique ideas. (more…)

Beer Review #62 Drop Top Amber Ale

Widmer Brothers Brewing Company was one of the few Portland, OR breweries that my wife and I did not visit or taste on our honeymoon. I’m not sure why exactly we missed it, but we did. Perhaps it was because the town offers more breweries than one can visit in four days, but who knows. Anyway it is a brewery that is talked about a fair amount and when I saw one of their offerings in the store I decided to take a shot.

Drop Top Amber Ale pours an orange amber color and is perfectly clear. The color should not be to much of a surprise for a beer that has “Amber Ale” in it’s name. It also pours with a slight, off-white head. The nose on the beer is malty, fruity, and has a slight hop odor at the end. There are also hints of grape and orange in there as well. Not a super complex nose, but interesting.

The taste is malty upfront. Then some orange and fruity flavors follow. There isn’t much hop there, but the helps dry the finish out and adds a bit of crispness to it. Citrus also makes a delicate appearance in there. There is a strange malty aftertaste in the beer. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was an odd flavor to have in a beer. Maybe it was the fruit flavors rolling off the tongue but I didn’t really dig it to much.

Overall I think the beer is drinkable. It is not a normal amber ale. The malt and lack of hops is there, but it is much more fruity than what you would normally expect from the style. It comes in at 5.0% ABV so it is very sessionalable and great for summer. If you like fruit beers this one is not going to blow you away with fruit and if you like amber ales this one is going to throw another flavor combination at you, but it is a drinkable beer for most craft beer drinkers. Give it a try, it might not blow your mind but it is a good stepping stone beer if you are just getting into the hobby. (more…)