So you know when you go to a beer festival and get a little inebriated and buy a t-shirt? Yeah I ended up leaving the Copenhagen Beer Celebration with a t-shirt of a beer I hadn’t actually ever tried, Spontankoppi, based on the fact that the picture was pretty cute and the assumption that I could buy a bottle at the Mikkeller bottle shop. Unfortunately I hadn’t actually figured out that the hundreds of other beer freaks from around the world who had come for the festival would also be looking to pick up a bottle or two to take home so the shop was pretty much ransacked by the time I got there and all the Spontankoppi had gone. Thankfully, I managed to pick some up back in the UK at my lovely local beer emporium, Bitter Virtue.
The Spontan series is Mikkeller’s series of lambics which are ‘spontaneously fermented’ using wild yeast and includes lychee, blueberry and strawberry variations. Fruit lambics…so far so good but coffee!? Doesn’t coffee traditionally go into stouts and porters? Not any more! As far as I am aware, this is the only coffee lambic in existence but let me know if you hear otherwise. As regular readers may have noticed, I prefer to enjoy my coffee beers on weekend train journeys as a little kick-start to the day. Unfortunately, since I hadn’t brought a glass, I swigged this one straight from the bottle (poor form I know) which meant I couldn’t really get a good whiff at the aroma so I was completely unprepared for the flavor! Having tried several from this series, I should have known what to expect but the shocking sourness hits me every time and I end up contorting my face like a lunatic with the first sip. To be fair I was drinking just before 11am so maybe I was still waking up. Getting past the extreme geuze-like super-sour hit at the front, the coffee tasted fresh and green – my first thought was that unroasted beans had been used but apparently the beans were roasted but unwashed when they went in. The bright but bitter super-carbonated-ness really brought out the acidity of the coffee in a unique way and the dry slightly sour-grape finish reminded me of a lively champagne. I’m pretty confident that this is my favorite of the Spontan series so far – a superbly refreshing way to take your morning coffee!
Through this blog you will come to know that as well as beer, I am also a massive fan of coffee so when you put the two together, I’m a very happy girl. On the South Coast, we are very fortunate to have our own experts in this heavenly partnership, Dark Star. Their Espresso remains high on my list of favorite beers and it’s always easy to find bottled (at least in the South of England). My first experience of it was shamefully from out-of-date bottles being sold off in a local off-licence, but it was exceptional even then!
There's something not quite right here...
Alongside their regular pemanent selection, they also do an imaginative selection of seasonal ales throughout the year, as well as monthly specials. February’s offering was a Black Coffee Pilsner, apparently inspired by a trip to the Czech Republic and the ‘intrinsic coffee flavour in the unfiltered dark Budvar.’ I was very excited to learn that my local ‘Bitter Virtue’ had procured a cask of the stuff this week. So excited that I have been checking the website obsessively twice a day to watch for the ‘coming soon’ to turn into ‘available now.’ Last night it finally came on so off I went, milk carton in hand to have it filled straight from the cask. It’s a good job I did too – they only had a pint left after filling my carton!
Another breakfast beer?
There’s something kind of fun about buying beer off the cask and carrying it home in a milk carton. It makes me feel like I’m recycling and getting a nice fresh beer at the same time. It also means I have to drink it all up on the same day (that’s what I tell myself). I had already been allowed a small taste in the shop so I was eager to get stuck in as soon as I got home. After a hard day of practically re-building my bike with muscles still burning from the kettle-bells session the night before, I needed a little pick-me-up and by gosh, that’s exactly what this is!
In the glass, it’s such a deep brown it’s almost black. You could mistake it for black coffee! It even smells just like coffee but this ain’t no cheap instant. This is a chic, sophistocated dark-roasted espresso. There’s a hint of malt there just to remind you that this is actually a beer. The coffee flavour runs all the way through from start to finish with a delicate sweetness. According to Dark Star, this is down to the intrinsic coffee flavor of the imported Czech malts as well as the coffee beans added after fermentation. I was rather surprised at how refreshing this is for such a dark beer. It’s rich and full of flavor without being too strong. It definately shares a lot in common with the dark Czech lagers I have tried (Budvar & Bernard Dark).
I really really hope that Mr Dark Star will make us some more of this lovely stuff (pretty please). It would be another worthy addition to the growing list of beers for breakfast (as a weekend treat of course). For tomorrow’s treat, I’ll have to make do with my humble bottle of Mikkeller Koppi IPA – I might even review it if it’s any good…