Photo: illupino, Flickr
Pop by my Brooklyn apartment, and chances are you'll only find two things to drink: coffee and beer. Those two liquids fuel my mornings and my evenings, and not always in the order that you'd expect.
Yet lately, the line separating java and beer has grown as blurry as my eyes at last call. Brewers have begun blending the a.m. and p.m. quaffs into a deliciously eye-opening hybrid. Don't consider the blend to be Four Loko's successor. Inky porters and chewy stouts naturally possess notes of chocolate and coffee. Adding ground java, either during the brewing process or steeped like tea post-brewing, plays up beer's existing coffee flavors.
While Minnesota's Surly Brewing serves the killer Coffee Bender and Lagunitas turns out the terrific Cappuccino Stout, my favorite mash-up hails from that mecca of caffeination and carbonation, Portland, Oregon. It's home to Hopworks Urban Brewery, an all-organic outfit with an abiding commitment to bicycles and first-rate craft beer. If you like hops, HUB will punch your ticket with its piney, resinous IPA and the thirst-quenching Crosstown Pale Ale. The Velvet ESB is a silky, floral take on the classic British beer, while the Abominable Winter Ale is a malty, aromatic treat.
But given my coffee addiction, I have to highlight the heavenly Survival "7-Grain" Stout. Hewn from barley, wheat, oats, amaranth, quinoa, spelt and kamut (the namesake seven grains), Survival pours pitch black, capped by creamy mocha foam. It smells of cocoa, roast and strong, dark coffee -- the beer's finished with cold-pressed Hairbender espresso from Stumptown. As expected, there's plenty of roasted java steering the flavor, but Survival remains rich and as silky as lingerie, with hops providing a nicely bittersweet close.
I won't judge if you sip Survival first thing in the morning. Heck, I might just join you.
Joshua M. Bernstein has written about brews, bars and booze for New York Magazine, Time Out New York, Imbibe Magazine and The New York Times. His beer book, Brewed Awakening, will be published by Sterling this fall. Follow him on Twitter @JoshMBernstein.