Are coffee IPAs finally having their moment? Eh, probably not.
No doubt coffee has methodically worked its way down the beer color scale, from stouts, through porters, a few ambers and so it goes. But it has yet to achieve the same currency as an additive to what—given the floral, citrus and bitter notes associated with both—is arguably its nearest relative, beer-wise.
A collaboration with fellow Portland lifestyle ambassador Stumptown Roasters, Rogue Ale’s Cold Brew IPA does nothing if not reenforce Rogue's determination to retain its prominent placement in the Portland Airport's Made in Oregon store. Fortunately, it does much more.
The beer is amber with a slight cloudiness that dissipates after a few minutes. If I'm being honest here, the color is pretty spot-on for "IPA with a splash of black coffee." The nose, however, offers up more than a splash of coffee, to the point you might swear you were about to drink an IPA-laced cold brew, and not the other way around.
It is a wonderfully balanced blend, perfect for drinking in the late afternoon, when the parts of the brain that regulate cravings are still transitioning from coffee to beer.”
The taste is a near inversion of the aroma, with the peppery, resiny flavors of the beer's four hop varieties—Rogue Farms Rebel and Freedom, alongside Simcoe and Liberty—and smooth, earthy mouthfeel overwhelming the coffee. Where the coffee reasserts itself is in the bitterness that moves from the back of the tongue to the top of the palate, as well as the lingering aftertaste, which becomes more and more coffee-forward with each sip. It is a wonderfully balanced blend, perfect for drinking in the late afternoon, when the parts of the brain that regulate cravings are still transitioning from coffee to beer.
At 7.5% ABV, any caffeinated kick from the cold brew was nearly undetectable, amid the mild soporific effect of a beer in this range. However, a few days after writing this review, and feeling confident in the above statement, I cracked one around 11:20 p.m., about an hour before my customary bedtime. The caffeine was certainly detectable.
It’s worth noting that Rogue has also introduce a Cold Brew 2.0, which is Stumptown cold brew mixed with blonde ale. Will coffee pilsners and saisons dot the beer aisles in 2019? Who can say?