I’m a sucker for a new series of beers from a brewery and when it’s one I admire as much as Siren Craft Brew then I’m all ears.
Siren’s Project Barista is a new range of beers from Siren that sees them combine two of the world’s favourite fluids, coffee and beer, in four different ways. Despite being a huge fan of beer, I’m not particularly fussed by coffee. It’s curious then, that many of my favourite beers have big coffee notes – you only have to look at some of our Drunk in… posts and you’ll find soon see some of my picks reflect this. I think, partially at least, it’s because I’ve never wanted to be over reliant on caffeine to make me a functional human being and also because I’d likely become a coffee wanker as well as a beer wanker and nobody wants that.
Coffee and beer hardly make for strange bedfellows – many a dark ale has been brewed with coffee for years but I’m intrigued to try out Siren’s range as I don’t think I’ve tried a sour or a double IPA that has used coffee before. I’ve written coffee too much it’s beginning to not sound or look like a word. Coffee.
For this post, we’ve decided to bring back the same format we used for the Rainbow Project post (go read it, I finally tried all the beers. Only 10 months late!) we have now dubbed ‘Expectations vs. Reality’ (there’s a category in the menu and everything). If the name itself isn’t explanation enough: I’m going to first write about what I’m expecting from the beer and then later, once I’ve sampled it, update it with the reality of what I actually thought of the beer.
So, read on for a description of the beer, our expectations and, finally, the reality.
Turkish – 10% Indulgent Imperial Stout with Coffee
What Siren says: Turkish is inspired by the country’s robust coffee traditionally served with a piece of rock candy. 45kg of Thai coffee beans, roasted by Reading’s Tamp Culture Coffee, are added at three different brewing intervals. The brew also includes the addition of vanilla and orange zest in the spinbot, orange zest and nutmeg in the whirlpool and an incredible 420kg of figs to the fermented beer! The result is lovely smooth spicy notes, a nice citrus sweetness and a sound body.
Expectation: Long-time readers of the blog will know that imperial stout is one of my favourite styles of beer. A spicy, citrus, coffee style impy stout has me weak at the knees. I fear it may be a while before I drink this as I have a fair few imperial stouts I need to get through first.
Reality: Coming soon!
Americano – 9.1% Devious Double IPA with Coffee
What Siren says: Americano is a Coffee Double IPA which uses a new method designed to preserve the delicate nature of Ethiopian coffee’s high-end berry notes. Quarter Horse Coffee in Birmingham brewed a strong hot coffee which was added to the beer directly before packaging. Americano is packed full of Citra, Columbus, Cascade, Chinook hops, and Mosaic Cryo Powder, to the tune of 21 grams per litre.
Expectation: Long-time readers of the blog will also know that a DIPA is also one of my favourite styles of beer. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m yet to have a DIPA made with coffee or even give off a coffee taste so this beer has me intrigued. Adding coffee just before packaging has me sceptical that it will pack a big coffee punch but subtlety may be key here in delivering a well-balanced beer.
Reality: So I was wrong. Adding the coffee late in the brewing process has made this very coffee heavy. It smells more like a coffee than a beer. It’s very sweet on the initial taste and then the coffee hit comes followed by a dry bitterness. Unfortunately, not the good kind of bitterness. I’ve drank the whole bottle now and I still can’t work out if a coffee DIPA really works. There are elements of it I like but I think I’d rather just a normal DIPA. Hmm.
Crema – 4.9% Deceptive Sweet White Coffee Stout
What Siren says: Crema is a white stout with German Whiskey Barrel aged coffee, which builds on our continuing experiments with the ageing of coffee beans. We steeped Tamp’s coffee in a fermenter at both 21°C and 0°C to accentuate the low notes of the coffee, whiskey, wood and vanilla. Then we took 25kg of German Whiskey Aged Coffee and added vanilla and cocoa nibs to create a sweet white stout that completely defies the way it looks.
Expectation: I had never had a white stout until a few weeks ago and didn’t even know it was a thing until recently. Disappointingly, I discovered they aren’t actually ‘white’ but more of an amber colour and not black like a regular stout. I’m definitely looking forward to this one as the description gives me high hopes.
Reality: Bit of disappointment this. I can’t taste any whiskey or wood at all, it’s very sweet and has a big dose of vanilla in both taste and smell and obviously has a coffee finish. It’s all just a bit boring and I had quite high hopes for how this would taste. It’s also a bit thin but I think white stouts suffer from that as a style. Oh well. Onto the next one.
CapHeine – 6.2% Kettle Sour with Coffee
What Siren says: Finally, we have CapHeine. We paired up with London’s artisan coffee roaster Climpson and Sons to deliver a unique kettle sour beer. The most nuanced coffee beer of the four, CapHeine’s biscuity, bready malt notes combine with hibiscus and raspberries and floral/fruity Kenyan coffee beans to create a cacophony of flavour. There’s redcurrant, cranberry, plum, red fruit notes and some light hibiscus florals. Mosaic, Palisade and Bravo hops are added during kettling and a small dry hop addition. There’s hibiscus in the boil and 120kg of Raspberries added to the fermentation.
Expectation: Another beer that intrigues me. I’m not entirely sure how a coffee sour will work, with coffee traditionally being on the other end of the spectrum to sour so I’m interested to try this one. I’m expecting to like this the least even though sour beers have grown on me, the other 3 just sound much more my thang.
Reality: I couldn’t really taste any coffee in this which was a shame. I know it was meant to be the most nuanced but it’s very, very subtle. I can taste the tart, sour raspberry which leads to a dry finish but if I’d tried this blind, I would never have said there is coffee in this.
That’s not to say it’s a bad beer, just I wanted hits of coffee as a coffee sour is basically an oxymoron! An enjoyable sour but not exactly what it does on the tin.