Sunday, 28 September 2014

8 Wired: C4 (Double Coffee Brown Ale)

Forester’s Hall (Collingwood, Melbourne)

Another contender for aromatic beer of the year!

New Zealand brew masters 8 Wired have, in collaboration with Christchurch’s C4 Coffee delivered the only kind of marriage that ever made any sense to me: coffee and beer.

Coffee is often infused in stouts and porters so as to amplify the already roasty character of the beer, however it is increasingly being added to compliment brown ales and even IPAs.  In this instance, 8 Wired went full steam ahead with a creamy brown ale style.  The end result is a beer that boasts a complex bouquet, magnificent interplay between fruit flavours provided by the coffee and the hops, harmonious nut characters and so much more besides.

The aroma here is strikingly floral: Osteospermum, double delight roses and West Australian wildflowers hit the nose and the imagination.  Suddenly, I am reminded of childhood memories; wandering through Kings Park in late September; if only I appreciated such things then as much as I do now. Coffee is big on the nose as well, as is a whiff of booziness.  Woody notes of aromatic Jarrah follow on...  Is my imagination getting the better of me?  No, it's all there.

The mouthfeel is wondrously silky, with a thin white head that lasts until near the bottom of the glass.  Hazelnut dominates the upper palate, while densely complex coffee notes assume control over the back.  Strangely, there is very little by way of sugary sweetness, nor overly astringent bitterness; only a slight astringency rings with a short, sharp swirl of the tongue.  Balance ensues with a buttery, not quite sweet burnt caramel flavour that rolls on beneath.

Other flavours coming through during the experience: vanilla, cream, suggestions of toffee (remembering that this beer is subdued in its sweetness), date and other dried coffee fruit.  Suffice it to say that this is a highly malt-forward beer as well; balanced by a dry finish.

This is one beer that would make a fantastic food pairing… “But with what?”  While enjoying this beer at Forester’s Hall, I struggled to find a pizza or chacuterie selection on the menu that might pair nicely with C4 Double Coffee Brown Ale.  Only a Moroccan lamb pizza might have fitted but such a fusion thing is just wrong in my book.  This is a beer that would pair brilliantly with something meaty, such as lamb shoulder, shank or ribs (lightly spiced – barbecue sauce perhaps), a good n’ proper pub pie, or indeed a bitter chocolate dessert, such as choc-cheesecake.  In a word, there are many complex and forward aromatics and flavours that would match very nicely to bold, red meat-orientated flavours.

C4 Double Coffee Brown Ale is, like so many other beers by 8 Wired, a masterfully created concoction that I will go back to time and time again.

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