I drink my share of coffee because I have two kids who make me do things like get up in the morning and make them breakfast, but I wouldn’t say that I’m a “coffee nerd.” I need it to survive, but I could care less if it comes in the form of a pour over or a latte or one of those instant Starbucks packets. It’s about the caffeine.
So, I’m not super into coffee beers either, which typically come in the form of stouts or porters. They’re okay; I’ll drink them, but I don’t go out of my way to find them. But Oskar Blues’ Hot Box is a different animal all together. Instead of going with the standard porter or stout, OB gives an IPA the coffee treatment, adding cold brew from Hot Box Roasters to one of their hoppy ales.
There aren’t a lot of coffee IPAs out there in the wild. Stone Brewing will occasionally put out a limited release coffee IPA (they recently did a great mocha IPA as part of their ongoing Drink By series), and I’ve had the errant coffee pale here and there, but it’s not a common style by any means. At first glance, it sounds like a weird marriage. IPAs are fruity and bitter. You wouldn’t think coffee, which obviously goes well with malt forward stouts and porters, would work in that sort of scenario.
But it does. In Hot Box, the coffee takes over the show, dominating the sip with a bit of milky sweetness and plenty of roasted character which plays as a baseline to the fruitiness of the hops. It’s like a citrus-forward cold brew with a hop bite on the back end. And I love it.
I’m not sure how much caffeine is in this beer (if any), but I’m thinking of substituting a can of Hot Box for my morning coffee. And maybe when my Hot Box runs out, I’ll just start pouring half an IPA into my coffee cup every morning.