If one ingredient could be added to a craft beer outside of the four main ones (water, malt, hops, and yeast), what would it be? For coffee lovers, this might be a very easy question. Immediately, the image of a bold, dark-roasted coffee blending with a soft, silky body of a stout, would most likely enter their minds.
Beyond stouts, some might wonder if there are other styles of beer that blend well with coffee. To answer that question, it’s best to engage someone who loves coffee and brews craft beer, like Nathan Hoeft, the head brewer of First Street Brewing Company in Hastings, Nebraska. He and his wife Jessi founded the brewery in 2016.
Like many other coffee enthusiasts, Hoeft finds the time in the morning to enjoy a good cup of coffee or espresso. Close to the brewery is a coffee shop called the Art Bar. It was there that Hoeft discovered the Populace brand of coffee. One day, Hoeft decided it was time to create a Blonde Ale with Populace coffee.
Lighter-colored styles are an interesting choice, but what happens to the color when coffee is added to it? Hoeft explained, “It is a delicate balance where I have learned techniques that allow the coffee aroma and flavor to be present without too much of the color.”
The first batch of the coffee Blonde Ale was well received in the community and named Popular Blonde. Hoeft thought that this would just be a seasonal beer, but patrons let him know that this was something they enjoyed year-round. The crispness of the ale with a touch of coffee and creaminess make it a favorite in the taproom.
Then, in late 2019, Hoeft created five different variants of the Popular Blonde. One variant used was Clout Coffee out of Omaha, Nebraska, which is bourbon barrel-aged coffee. Another variant used Kona coffee from Mark Ferrari Specialty Coffees out of Oshkosh, Nebraska. Hoeft said that these two variants provided bolder coffee flavors. He added, “It is fun to experiment with different coffee to see the unique flavors come through.”
Other styles of craft beer that coffee can be added to are Porter, Brown Ale, Cream Ale, and Kolsch. After giving it a try, many will agree that coffee and craft beer are indeed the perfect match.