From the Beer Writer: They’re novel and pop up every now and then: golden stouts. What sounds like an oxymoron really isn’t. “Stout” originated as a broad English term describing the higher-alcohol version of any beer style. It later became associated with porters, which is part of the reason it became associated with inky beers made with deeply kilned malts. That said, when a brewer concocts a golden stout they are looking to impart the roasty flavor of a modern-day black-as-night stout in a beer that looks more like a blonde ale or IPA. To do that, they must abstain from dark-roasted grains and go the coffee route. Doing so brings in all the roastiness and, often, some added flavor complexity. Finding a quality roaster is paramount in this process and, when sourcing java for its Golden Stout with Coffee, Karl Strauss Brewing knew just who to tap, 2012 Roaster of the Year (per Roast Magazine), Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. The La Jolla-based company presented Karl’s team with varied options. In the end, the beans that were selected came through with flying colors. This 7.5% alcohol-by-volume “stout” has a fragrance blending roasted coffee and chocolate cream pie. The latter comes from the addition of cacao nibs and vanilla. Adding to its wolf-in-golden-hued-sheep’s-clothing appeal is a slightly creamy mouthfeel akin to a traditional oatmeal stout. Hitting on all style cylinders, this is golden stout that’s worth its weight in…top-shelf coffee beans.
From the Brewer: “In our Wreck Alley Imperial Stout, we use a medium- to dark-roast bean that complements the roasted barley and adds another dimension to the thick, dark beer. When putting together a recipe for this Golden Stout, we needed to up the amount of coffee significantly. The Golden Stout has six times the amount of coffee that Wreck Alley has! We realized a darker roast would come through too harsh, so a lighter roast was just right. We chose the Ethiopia Gera Limu organic beans because they are perfect as a light roast. The coffee is bright, fruity, and has aromas of berry and chocolate. The addition of cacao nibs and vanilla beans to the beer adds another level of depth and complexity that makes this more than just a coffee beer. By the way, the fact we get to grind up and brew some of these beans into coffee in the breakroom is a sweet bonus. Seriously, this is some of the best coffee we’ve ever had.”—Lyndon Walker, Head Brewer, Karl Strauss Brewing