Saw Works Hazelnut Brown Ale Cask

14 September 2012 by , No Comments

As a homebrewer, Iʼm constantly being asked by friends why I donʼt parlay my hobby into a business and open a brewery. I usually dismiss this as friends looking to expand their range of free beer, but there are a few honest reasons why I donʼt want to own a brewery; Itʼs expensive, time consuming, and it would anchor my fun loving hobby to the stress of my bills. There are, however, two VERY BIG reasons why I would love to own a brewery; One-off specialty brews and a beer engine. Luckily for me, and all of you, we have Saw Works Brewing and their brewmaster, Dave Ohmer.

Obviously, when I found out that Saw Works had a one-time-only batch of their Brown Ale infused with Hazelnut coffee beans, and that they would be pulling it through a beer engine at Suttreeʼs High Gravity Tavern – home of the infamous poblano pepper pimento cheese spread – I knew what had to happen. And apparently I wasnʼt the only one, because the line for the cask was as dense as a the head on the beer all night. I grabbed a chair nearest the cask and sat and waited like kid in line for Santa Claus at the mall. But let me tell you, Santaʼs beer breath never smelled this good.

Iʼll save you all the inglorious details of my first sip (Iʼm not sure I could spell all the moaning noises I made anyway) but Iʼll just say that it felt like I had been smacked in the face with a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans. The rich dense head, which you can only get from a hand-pulled ale, sat on my glass and mocked the foam on my wifeʼs decaf latte from across the table. This is what the French would have done with coffee if they had any sense.

At first taste, all I could sense was the coffee and hazelnut. Not a bad thing at all, but the original Brown Ale is a great beer and it kind of got lost when everything was really cold. But as my glass sat for a few minutes, and as the beer warmed slightly, that familiar malt sweetness began to shine through and round out the light acidity of the beans. This was a well planned, creative beer. Flavorful, but not overpowering; rich, but not cloying.

Beginning to end, the Saw Works Hazelnut Brown was one of the finest coffee beers Iʼve had in a good long time. And while Dave assured me that these 15 gallons were the only ones that he graced with the coffee beans, I wouldnʼt be  surprised if he stashed a little for himself to go with is bacon and eggs this morning. After all, he earned it.