Can coffee and craft beer ever be friends?

Is any flavour combination more on trend right now than infusing craft beer with the flavour of (almost) everyone’s favourite caffeinated drink? There was no shortage of experimental brews on show at the recent London Craft Beer Festival, with coffee-inspired concoctions featuring heavily.

Our PR consigliere Aimen just happened be on hand to try one or two…or five. Here’s how they ranked.

5. Barrel Aged Flat White by Left Handed Giant Brewing

Oh dear. It’s really difficult to get past the consistency of this one – thick and syrupy in a way that an espresso should be but a beer shouldn’t. I love beer but I’d probably stay off the booze if this was the only thing on offer.

4. Tennessee Coffee Ale by Fourpure

I love supporting London’s independent breweries and am a fan of Fourpure’s more conventional offerings. Sadly, this tastes exactly like dropping a shot of espresso into a pale ale. The coffee overpowers the beer which makes it like a fizzy cold brew, which is weird.

3. Project Barista: Crema by Siren Craft Brew

Berkshire-based Siren Craft Brew have definitely gone ALL IN with their Project Barista selection of five different coffee-inspired beers. There were so many I couldn’t taste them all! Crema achieved what the beer above could not – being lighter in colour and taste but balanced thanks to the addition of vanilla. It got better with every mouthful (though that might just be a general thing with me and beer!).

2. Project Barista: Turkish by Siren Craft Brew

This imperial stout brewed with beans from Reading’s Tamp Culture Coffee hits on the right formula for combining coffee and beer. At 10% proof it is an absolute beast, but the strong body and alcohol content are the perfect foils for the rich coffee flavour. One to enjoy in extreme moderation. I might even try it in a ‘beeramisu’.

1. Northern Star Mocha Porter by Northern Monk 

First, a confession. Leeds’ Northern Monk were at the festival but this beer was not. But I have had it before and it deserves number one on this list. At 6% it’s not going to blow your head off, and there is sweetness and depth with just the right hint of coffee. Like most of these, you couldn’t drink a lot of it but it slips down pretty nicely.

In conclusion, mixing coffee and beer is always going to be divisive. Though it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of joe, it is possible to make a tasty beverage. You’re probably not going to want to drink it at a party or a BBQ, but as the nights start to draw in again why not mix things up and give one a try?