Imperial Coffee IPA – English: Siren Americano

This week, I’ve got yet another interesting brew from Siren Craft Brew in Wokingham, England. This is another crazy concoction from Siren, an Imperial Coffee IPA. Siren really have been pushing the boundaries of Beer Styles since they started in 2012 and as well as offering their Core Range they are always releasing interesting brews that push all different styles of beer.

Like the Limoncello IPA collaboration brew I reviewed earlier in the year, this one sits at a healthy 9.1%. For a specialty brew, this is becoming a normal strength in my opinion, especially in Siren’s case.

Let’s start with Siren’s description of the beer:

What do you get when your Head Brewer leaves some dark malts in the tank before brewing an IPA? A chance to be creative!

A true ‘American Mild’ sitting at a measly 9.1%. Packed full of Citra, Columbus, Cascade, Chinook, Mosaic, Comet and enough coffee beans to keep a barista on their feet for days.

A grande mistake made (very) good.

A very descriptive blurb for this one, almost so descriptive I don’t need to write the next part about the ingredients! Although I’m not always a fan of some brewers blowing their own whistle, the addition at the end of the description just concretes the fact that Siren think that although a strange (and therefore interesting), this is going to be a fantastic brew.

After a little research (apart from the hops of course!) I think the malts used in this brew are Maris Otter, 2-Row, Acidulated Malt, Crystal 40 and a small amount of Roasted Barley. I don’t think it’s Black Malt due to the colour of the brew unless it’s a tiny amount, and then I don’t think it would contribute to the roasty flavours. More on that after the hops! As stated in the description, it’s hopped with Citra, Columbus, Cascade, Chinook, Mosaic and Comet. What an assortment of hops, which leads me to believe that Ethiopian coffees are used in this brew. The reason for this is a lot of these hops have a lemony/citrus profile, along with the light roasty flavours imparted by the Roasted Barley this would be a perfect match to allow the Ethiopian Coffee to shine in this brew. The Coffee from Ethiopia also has a light roasty/lemon/citrus flavour which would work perfectly with the Hops and Malts chosen.

When you pour this beer, it almost looks like Coffee to begin with. A brown colour with a ruby/orange tint, after the fluffy head starts to form you realise it really is a beer! The head is an off white, starts rather thick and foamy which retains rather well for a 9.1% beer and fades to a thinner head leaving sticky lacing on the sides of the glass. The smell of this brew is so complex, hints of Lemon, Citrus, Coffee, Roasty notes, Caramel and even some Cocoa. After smelling this beer I needed to dive straight in, the first inital hit is some resiny pine notes, then the Eithiopian Coffee, Speciality malts and hop profiles start to take over with bursts of Lemon, other Citrus, Roasty coffee notes and some Caramel. Truely a tasty beer! The alcohol is hidden surprisingly well, but not well enough for it to be considered something that can keep you warm in the winter! It finishes medium/dry with a sharp carbonation comparable to champagne. Carbonation is in no way overpowering and helps with the carbonation, and the fact this is a great sipper on a cold day!

Who knew such a strange combo could work? But like Siren have said since the brewery started –

Our desire is to constantly discover ways to excite curiosity and share our knowledge of our craft. In so doing we believe that beer can be enjoyed in the same way as wine drinkers enjoy the finest wines

Siren seem to have got very good at this over the years.

Unfortunately there’s no official page for Americano, but you can purchase it in the UK at the following places:

Eebria

Beer Merchants (In Stock at time of Writing)

Alesela (Limited stock at time of Writing)

Also, a Google search never goes a miss!

For any bars/shops wanting to stock this, contact Siren Craft Brew Directly

EST. CALORIES: 273   ABV: 9.1%

Black Imperial IPA – English: Buxton Imperial Black IPA

BIIPA

This week comes with a newer style on the block, an Imperial Black IPA. I’d say this one can be enjoyed year round, although best enjoyed in the evening as they are usually around 7.5%.

Let’s start with Buxton Brewery‘s description of the beer:

Full bodied jet-black ale with a pale-tan head. Abundant fresh hop aromas suggesting zesty citrus pulp and forest fruits.

Quite a brief description, but Buxton has been known to be more modest with their blubs and leave a lot to the imagination which I think is a good idea for such a complex style.

Let’s start with a bit on the style, as I think a great new style such as this needs more recognition. An Imperial Black IPA/Black IPA or American Black Ale. It’s often mistaken for a hoppy Porter or Stout but this is not the case. Whilst this beer has the roasty flavour (hints of coffee and dark chocolate) this usually takes more of a back seat then it does in a Porter or Stout. Don’t get me wrong, the malty roasty coffee/chocolate tones are there and they are still a big part of the flavour. The main showcase however, is the nice fresh citrus/pine hop kick from the hops which is a lot different to a hoppy Porter or Stout as they tend to use Dark Roasted Malts like a Black IPA, but they use English hops sparingly to give it the true character of a stout or porter (usually). Black IPA’s use as many hops as an IPA and sometimes even more in order to get the flavour to cut through.

I contacted Buxton Brewery about the recipe of their beer, but unfortunately they didn’t reply so I have to take an educated guess. Usually with a Black IPA, you start with the base for a normal American Hopped IPA and add Carafa III Special Malt. I’m guessing the recipe is something similar to this: Pale Ale Malt, Crystal Malt and the Carafa III Special Malt. This beer also has some Wheat in, so I think that is most probably a German Strain as the head has very good retention like a bock. The hops are definitely American and going from the fresh Citrus and Pine flavours I think Chinook, Simcoe and Amarillo have been used.

When you pour this beer, the first thing you will notice is the smell of roasted coffee and citrus. Then you’ll notice that the head is spilling out the glass due to the wheat in the beer and possibly to do with the Bottle Conditioning. Once poured it looks very impressive, extremely dark with a crazy Tan coloured Head. The smell is still quite overwhelming and very inviting. Once the head reduces it stays on top of the beer as a medium cap the whole time, which really is quite impressive. Once you taste this beer it initially hits with hints of Fresh Roasted Coffee, Caramel and Brown Sugar. After this the hops kick in with a great punch of fresh citrus and hints of pine. It’s a bit like eating a Key Lime pie with a cup of coffee without it being so sweet. Although it is 7.5% there is no sign of the alcohol in the flavour and instead you get this sweet and sour aftertaste from the malted barley and wheat. It really is quite a complex brew but very enjoyable. Unlike the standard IPA it doesn’t have a dry finish and instead finishes sweet with medium carbonation.

This is definitely a beer to enjoy slowly after a long hard day at work.

I’d purchase this beer again and I’m glad Buxton Brewery have made this a year-round beer instead of a special release.

You can purchase Buxton Imperial Black IPA in the UK at:

Buxton Brewery’s Online Shop
Beer Ritz
Deliciously Different

At the time of posting, you can also grab a bottle from The Pint Shop, Cambridge in person For any bars, shops etc that are interested, I would contact the Brewery directly. Black Imperial IPA comes in Bottles, Kegs and Cask.

EST. CALORIES: 225   ABV: 7.5%