The Tomato

Beans and barley

Coffee starts the day; beer ends it. A life truth as certain as death and taxes.

by Peter Bailey

coffeebear

I learned many life truths at university. The curative morning-after powers of dim sum. The fickleness of red-headed girls. The danger of having a beer-filled pop machine in your basement (75¢ a bottle). The deep pleasure of a good cup of coffee.

Going to the University of Alberta in the mid-eighties, my route to class took me to Java Jive in HUB Mall where I would join the long line of sleepy students shuffling forward for their cup of joe.

Java Jive (1976-2014) gave thousands of students their first introduction to good coffee. Going home after class I might stop off at Dewey’s, a student-run pub just a few doors down HUB mall from Java Jive.

My future wife and I had our first sort-of date at Dewey’s, when I learned she really, really didn’t like beer. Thirty years later she still really, really doesn’t like beer.

Back then I thought Java Jive and Dewey’s both had their place, coffee and beer as different as chalk and cheese. Little did I know but just around the corner from my house was the Sugarbowl, which would show Edmonton how coffee and beer could be friends. Then the Sugarbowl was intimidating, filled with tweedy professors smoking pipes and grad students wearing berets. Now you can have cappuccino and a cinnamon bun or Belgian ale and a lamb burger. Or both.

Across the river from the Sugarbowl on Jasper Avenue is BRU Coffee + Beer House, opened in September 2015. Owner Tina Wang describes BRU as the place “where third wave coffee meets craft beer.” Third wave coffee is a post-Starbucks movement that takes a craft beer approach to coffee: single origin, small-batch micro-roasting and slow, careful brewing. BRU is a stylish cafe/pub where coffee nerd and beer geek can both obsess about their beverage of choice and makes real the saying that “coffee keeps me going until it’s acceptable to drink beer.” The coffee beans come from Transcend (Edmonton) Phil & Sebastian (Calgary) and Bows & Arrows (Victoria). The beer comes from all over, but the beer on tap so far is Edmonton’s Alley Kat.

The next step in this beautiful friendship between beer and coffee is marriage, and many breweries have stepped up to the altar. While the flavour of coffee in beer is not new, thanks to dark roasted malts, actually putting coffee into beer is a recent innovation.

Most breweries use the cold toddy method to add coffee to beer, steeping coffee beans or grounds in the brewing water for one or two days. The perfect marriage is Hopworks 7 Grain Survival Stout from Portland, a magnificent dark beauty of a beer, made with cold-pressed Stumptown coffee. Often beer marries the coffee next door. Mill Street Brewing and Balzac’s Coffee, two of the first tenants in Toronto’s Distillery District in 2002, got together to make the classic Coffee Porter. Alley Kat’s seasonal Coffee Porter is made with coffee from their neighbour, Transcend Coffee. And while it may seem like opposites attract, beer and coffee have things in common: they’re made with roasted ingredients, they both affect the drinker—coffee a stimulant, alcohol a depressant. And both have dedicated, even obsessive, communities that love them. Cheers to the happy marriage of barley and bean!

Coffee beer six-pack
Look for coffee beers at beer-friendly coffee shops like Remedy or Cafe Leva, coffee- friendly pubs like BRU or Sugarbowl and quality beer shops like Sherbrooke Liquor, Keg n Cork or Color de Vino.

Dieu du Ciel Péché Mortel

Dieu du Ciel Péché Mortel

Dieu du Ciel Péché Mortel, Montréal
Often ranked as Canada’s best beer, Péché Mortel was a classic from its launch in 2001. This imperial stout with coffee is big and complex, with massive roasted malt and coffee flavour up front, followed by chocolate, vanilla and a touch of hop. Due to recent Alberta beer tax changes, Dieu du Ciel has left Alberta, but we hope to see them back soon. A bientôt!

Yukon Midnight Sun Espresso Stout

Yukon Midnight Sun Espresso Stout

Yukon Midnight Sun Espresso Stout, Whitehorse
In 2003 Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters in Whitehorse talked their neighbours Yukon Brewing into working together to create a coffee beer. The American stout they brewed uses eight different malts, oatmeal and espresso coffee. It tastes of black coffee, roasted malts, chocolate and lonely, windswept Arctic tundra.

Java the Hut

Java the Hut

Java the Hut, Fernie
Named after one of Fernie’s backcountry ski huts, this delightful coffee milk stout makes for a perfect après-ski beer. Or maybe a pre-ski beer? Java the Hut is brewed with dark roasted malts, coffee from Fernie’s Crowsnest Coffee Roasters and a touch of milk sugar to bring up the sweet and smooth out the beer.

Ballast Point Victory at Sea

Ballast Point Victory at Sea

Ballast Point Victory at Sea, San Diego
San Diego is chock-a-block with iconic west coast IPAs from brewers like Stone, Green Flash and especially Ballast Point. But Ballast Point also
brews this stunning imperial porter, infused with vanilla and coffee from San Diego’s Caffé Calabria. Big roasted malt flavour and coffee bitterness is balanced by the vanilla sweetness.

Meantime Coffee Porter

Meantime Coffee Porter

Meantime Coffee Porter, London
How’s this for single origin sourcing? Meantime Coffee Porter is made with Maraba Bourbon coffee beans from the Abuhuzamugambi Bukawa Co-operative in southern Rwanda, hand-roasted by London’s Union Roasters. The Rwandan beans are a nice mix of chocolate and vanilla flavours, perfect with the roasted malt in this delicious English porter.

Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout, Japan

Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout, Japan

Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout, Japan
Following a 1996 change to Japan’s alcohol laws, sake-maker Kiuchi Brewery turned to beer, brewing the Hitachino Nest beers, including this intense imperial coffee stout. A bold, rich brew, with an emphatic and sustained coffee taste supported with chocolate and roasted malt flavours.

Peter Bailey will someday open a combination bookstore – brewpub – coffee shop. For now he puts the pub in public library. He tweets as @Libarbarian.

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