Thursday, December 31, 2009

Beer of the Week (Vol. XXXVI)

This special New Year's Eve edition of Beer of the Week brought to you as always by the hail fellows well met at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits, who can help you take a cup of kindness yet as you say good riddance to 2009 and welcome in what has to be a better year in 2010 (doesn't it?).

There are two great forces in the universe that provide the equilibrium necessary to sustain life. One is usually associated with the day. The other the night. One is usually hot. The other cold. One serves to stimulate. The other to sedate.

I speak of course of coffee and beer. They are the ying and yang of beverages that--in the proper balance--bring harmony and happiness to life. Coffee is the energy that begins your day by fueling the mental and physical processes you need to face the challenges ahead. Beer is the calming reward at the end of the day that helps you wind down and relax your senses. They have a symbiotic relationship and are often proportionally intertwined. The more beer you have the night before, the more coffee that you will need the next day. Like love and marriage, it's hard to imagine that you could live with one and not the other.

But what happens when you disturb this natural balance? What if, instead of having the two forces acting in opposition to each other, you combine them together as one? Obviously such a joining would raise some metaphysical concerns, but I'm happy to report that it does not result in the end of the universe as we know it. Instead, what you get is Coffee Bender from local brewing sensation Surly.

Surly is not the first brewer to combine coffee and beer. Years ago when I was in Seattle, I came across Red Hook's Double Black Stout. It was a joint effort between the Seattle brewer and Starbucks and was quite good. Now, there are a number of brewers who produce high quality coffee beers, although that may not be true in the future if the nanny ninnies at the FDA have their way. Enjoy your coffee beer while you still can.

Standard pint sized Surly can. Surly logo set against a foaming mug that's blasting off with brown, tan, and black background colors. You gotta love the look of the Surly graphic design.

Beer Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by Volume: 5.2%

COLOR (0-2): Dark brown close to black. 2

AROMA (0-2): Strong coffee aroma with hints of chocolate giving it a mocha like scent. 2

HEAD (0-2): Light tan. Full with good retention and lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Dominant coffee flavors again accentuated by chocolate. Thin mouth-feel, lighter body, and overall smoothness make it surprisingly drinkable. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Smooth and a bit dry. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Surly claims that Coffee Bender refreshes like an iced-coffee and that claim definitely holds up. While it delivers delicious coffee flavors it also makes for a good whistle whetter. If you like coffee and beer, you'll enjoy this tasty combination of two of the best things in life. Best of all it can be savored year round and at almost any time of day. Whether you want to ring in the New Year at midnight or kick start the next morning with a little pick me up, Coffee Bender will fill your needs. You're going to have spend a little more, but it's worth the additional investment. 5

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 17


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