Hotbox Coffee IPA, an atypical sort of coffee beer, has returned and it’s ready to slap you in the mouth-hole with flavors of citrus, berry, and plum. Wait – I thought this was a coffee beer. Yep, when most folks think “coffee beer” their minds go to traditional roasty, chocolatey stouts infused with equally roasty, chocolatey beans BUT that’s not what we’re going for here. The flavors in the coffee team up with underlying plum notes in the malt bill, led by CaraBelge malt. Together they give the citrus flavors of Simcoe hops a boost straight up over your tongue and down the hatch in a perfectly balanced brew.
When you think about it, coffee and beer have a long history of working well together. Consider one of those nights (maybe it was last night) when you drank beer all night, slept in the parking lot at work, and then transitioned immediately to strong cups of coffee so you could appear to be a functioning human in front of your co-workers. Beer and coffee are our everyday heroes, and in Hotbox Coffee IPA, they strike a perfect balance.
“Coffee is traditionally added to dark beers because the malt pushes the same roasty flavor agenda,” explained Head of Brewing Operations Tim Matthews. “In contrast, the hops and coffee combo in a pale beer is more challenging to perceive because they’re not pushing the same pedal. Hotbox Coffee IPA is less predictable than your average coffee beer and drives citrus and berry flavors forward.”
The citrus notes of the Simcoe hops and the hints of dried fruit in the malt bill collaborate to highlight the subtleties of the coffee beans. “The variety of beans used this year is an Heirloom from the Ethiopian region of Hambela,” said Hotbox Roasters’ Head Roaster Noe Lopez. “Due to the processing these beans underwent, the flavor profile of the coffee is very fruity, chocolatey, and nutty with a velvety mouthfeel. They naturally have this black tea flavor to them and I roasted these a little darker to bring out a deep tobacco flavor.”
Last year’s Hotbox Coffee IPA also used Ethiopian beans, but from a different “micro-origin,” as Tim put it, and they have more of a cocoa thing going on, “to help contrast with the hops. It’s still a light coffee flavor and how strongly it comes across really depends on how sensitive you are to coffee.”
To meet the needs of both the Longmont and the Austin Brewery locations, Noe “milked” a total of 110 pounds of coffee and made a super concentrated cold brew (2 pounds of coffee for every 1 gallon of water, steeped for 32 hours), which is added to the beer on the way to the filler. Tim explained that this method makes for a more homogenized addition than adding the cold brew to the tank prior to canning.
Seeking a deeper understanding of coffee magic, we asked Noe a few questions.
If aliens arrived on Earth and had no knowledge of cold brew, how would you describe it to them?
I would describe cold brew as an incredibly tasty brown water that makes you party extra hard.
Imagine you’re the first guy in history who ever plucked a coffee bean off a bush and ate it. What’s going through your mind?
First of all, the bean is actually the pit of a cherry-like fruit. I would probably think, ‘Aghhh this is delicious!’ Have you ever tried raw coffee? It tastes really sweet like those Peach Ring candies.
If Hotbox IPA was on Tinder, what would its bio say?
Swings both ways.
Taproom Release Events
Check out Hotbox Coffee IPA at your friendly local Tasty Weasel Taproom on Friday, February 16 (The Brevard release party has been moved to February 23). We’re giving away tons of free Hotbox Coffee IPA swag to everyone who shows up.
Longmont Taproom, 4-9pm MST: We’ve got tunes from Los Fear of Shrimp starting at 5pm.
Boulder Taproom, 4-11pm MST: Grab a slice of pizza and jam to EEF Duo starting at 7pm.
Austin Taproom, 4:20-10pm CST: American Dreamer plays from 6:30-8:30pm.
Brevard Taproom, February 23, 5-10pm EST: Get down to music by Old North State and nom food from the CHUBwagon. DATE CHANGED TO FEBRUARY 23 FOR BREVARD PARTY ONLY