Day-drinking is not an activity I frequently partake in. While I love a Bloody Mary--the spicier, the better--as much as the next girl, day-drinking often leads to day-drunk, which often leads to baking elaborate cakes for your friends, mistaking the tablespoons for teaspoons, and then taking a two-hour nap in the middle of the day (not that I know from experience). Anyway, I'll take a coffee over a mimosa any day.
But a few weeks ago I was at Burgundian, the Tangletown pub (from the folks behind Brouwer's) with the crazy impressive beer list and all-day breakfast menu, enjoying a late-night plate of eggs Benedict and a pint, when something on their calendar of events caught my eye: Coffee Beer Festival. Not coffee-comma-beer, but coffee-beer, as in Seattle's two favorite beverages working together to produce one harmonious cup. Brilliant.Lead manager Phillip Bonney said the inspiration for the festival hit him when he heard about some of the cool coffee beers local breweries like Naked City were putting out. "I figured there are two things that our area is known for: Seattle is known for the coffee, and the Northwest is known for its beer," he said. "So why not do a coffee beer festival? It's unique, it's a fun idea, and the only problem I can see is trying to keep people in their seats."
Why not coffee and beer, indeed? The two have so much in common: both are fermented, both have their share of fanatics and naysayers, both are nuanced and rich and roasty, both have played vital roles in history, both taste best when made with love in small batches by artists of their craft.
The term "festival" may have been a bit misleading, but the coffee beer event that took place Saturday was a success by any measure. When I showed up at 2 p.m. the place was still hopping, and Bonney said the real action happened between 11 a.m. and noon--makes sense for a place that specializes in brunch plates of epic proportions. While stouts and porters are by far the most common vehicles for coffee infusions, Burgundian's special draft menu of 23 coffee beers (from nearly as many different breweries) also featured IPAs, saisons, brown ales, and more. There were also five custom coffee cocktails and a special menu of coffee-focused food items.
Though flights weren't available--a shame, though totally understandable given the relatively small size of the bar and the number of glasses they would have had to wash--we worked our way through four of their standard 12-ounce pours. Fremont Brewing's Wandering Wheat made with Tony's Coffees' Ethiopian blend is surprisingly light and refreshing with just a hint of coffee at the end, whereas Elysian's Split Shot Coffee Milk Stout with Lighthouse Coffee is almost more coffee than beer: dark and smooth with a heady coffee smell and a light crema like a fine espresso. This is a beer you could keep in your mug at work without your boss even questioning you. Bonney recommended we try Hopworks Urban Brewery's Brouwer's 6th Anniversary Stumptown and Mexican Chocolate, which is dark like Elysian's stout but much sweeter and with prominent cinnamon notes from the Mexican chocolate, and a beautiful reddish amber Oktoberfest beer from Big Time Brewery made with Ethiopia Mordecofe.
If you didn't make it to the fest this weekend, Bonney says the beers will stick around until the kegs run dry; HUB's is sure to go first, he said. Since many of these brews were made specifically for this event--there's nothing coffee or beer nerds love better than creating something cool and new--it's not like you can stop by the corner store for a six pack of the same. This was the first year for the festival, though I'm definitely hoping this becomes an annual tradition.
Bring on the day-drinking when there's this amount of caffeine involved.