In the 1990s, staff from Kaldi’s Coffee started visiting their neighbors in the Schlafly Beer Tap Room, asking for a pint of stout and a shot of espresso. Both Schlafly and Kaldi’s realized this was a match made in beer heaven, and soon started working together to find the perfect coffee blend to mix with their Oatmeal Stout. Schlafly’s Oatmeal Stout is a classic English-style stout brewed with flaked oatmeal and roasted barley.
This collaboration continues today, with regular tastings to perfect the Coffee Stout.* For this batch, Kaldi’s donated their French Roast (an alternating coffee which, at the time of brewing, was their FTO Honduas Capucas) and the Schlafly team infused a cold brew of it into their beer.
FTO HONDURAS CAPUCAS
COCAFCAL, or the Cooperativa Capucas Limitada, is located in western Honduras near the Celaque National Park –a cloud forest containing the country’s highest mountain. The cooperative represents an estimated 12 communities from the municipalities of San Pedro and Corquin, in Copan. Together, they work to promote the sustainable development of their local economy through financial, technical, productive and marketing services for members and families.
Reducing poverty and increasing standards of life for their community are their main objectives and ongoing development programs have benefited approximately 5,000 people in Las Capucas and surrounding regions. Members are dedicated to growing sustainable conventional, organic and Fair Trade coffees. The cooperative’s General Assembly, which manages the democratic use of the Fair Trade premium, is comprised of 10 members, nine of whom are women.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping Schlafly Coffee Stout, from Schlafly Beer in Saint Louis, Missouri. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Copan, Honduras
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Cooperativa Capucas Limitada
elevation: 1100 – 1300 meters above sea level
cultivars: Caturra, Catuai, Bourbon, Pacas
process: fully washed, patio dried
style: English Stout
alcohol by volume: 5.7%
international bitterness units: 30
color: Dark Brown
ingredients: Coffee, Marynka Hops, Pale Malts, Caramel Malts, Roasted Barley, Oats, American Ale yeast
Pouring the Schlafly Coffee Stout into my tulip yields a two-finger thick head that is beige in color and consists of dense pillowy foam. It dissipates relatively quickly, leaving a small bit of lacing on the glass. This is a very dark brown brew (almost black), with very faint tinges of red noticeable around the glass.
There is definitely an oatmeal stout nose present, with roasty coffee and nuts pervading throughout. It has a massive scent of roast and and nuances of sweetness, including hints of caramel, brown sugar or, perhaps more closely, molasses, brown bread, and light earthy tones.
My first sips are overpowering with flavors of burnt coffee. It tastes like chewing coffee beans and washing it all down with an oatmeal stout. Further flavors of cocoa, toasted hazlenut, caramelized brown sugar, burnt toast (brown bread), nougat, and there even some faint nuances of herbs and earthiness (particularly throughout the finish). It soon mellows as it warms up, though, and all of these disjointed flavors begin to balance each other, but one quality that never goes away is the beer’s bitterness. This is a really bitter beer that doesn’t have enough of a malted backbone or body to support the bitterness. It’s a pretty thin, light-bodied beer with a lot more carbonation and a chalky mouthfeel than I was bargaining for when I saw that it was an English-style stout and it just doesn’t have any of those big flavors to mask the coffee’s bitterness (and, it being a French Roast, trust me—it’s pretty bitter).
Medium body; chalky mouthfeel; carbonic acidity; clean finish.
When trying out coffee-infused beers, one thing that you run into a lot is the brewery using subpar coffees from roasters of little reputation—more often than not, truthfully. But there are plenty of breweries out there that will infuse their beers with high-quality, expertly roasted specialty coffees that, even more than complement the beer’s flavor profile, elevate the beer as a whole! We’ve tried many of them together, here at the Table.
Schlafly Coffee Stout has all the makings for an exceptional coffee-beer: great brewery (Schlafly Beer) using a great coffee (FTO Honduras Capucas) from a great roaster (Kaldi’s Coffee). But for a variety of reasons—if you’ll pardon the pun—Schlafly Coffee Stout just fell a little flat. This beer had loads of tremendous flavors: cocoa, nuts, caramelized sugars, and plenty of those brown bread flavors found in English-style stouts… Unfortunately, it was also a very bitter beer, which has a lot to do with the roast profile that Kaldi’s used on their Honduras (French roast—just shy of the darkest roast profile you can put on a coffee bean) and the fact that the beer just didn’t have enough of a body or a malty backbone to mask that coffee’s bitterness.
There was so much potential with this sort of all-star collaboration, but this beer was a real missed opportunity for both Schlafly and Kaldi’s.
*content provided by Schlafly Beer
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.