This month, Deep Ellum Brewing Co. re-released their Oak Cliff Coffee Ale in cans and on tap. Oak Cliff Coffee Ale made its first appearance last winter and was generally well received, but here at the Observer we were too busy falling all over ourselves to drink as much of Community Brewing Co.'s Ascension Coffee Porter to give DEBC's brew the full attention it deserved.
In our defense, it was an overwhelming time. Within a week of each other, two of Dallas' most recognized breweries released specialty beers using coffee from two of the very best coffee houses in Dallas. Deep Ellum is a district long-connected to booze, and certain parts of Oak Cliff have maintained their close-knit, neighbors-gathering-for-coffee-on-the-porch community throughout the ups and downs of the surrounding areas. Individually, coffee and beer are both wonderful beverages that can offer rich, roasted malt flavors that insist you relax and nurse them awhile, especially if the weather turns cold. Together? Forget about it.
Despite the initial oversight, Deep Ellum Brewing's Oak Cliff Coffee Ale is certainly worthy of consideration. In fact, of the 25-plus beers that DEBC has released since opening at the end of 2011, this is my hands-down favorite. It pours a rich brown, a bit over-carbonated for my personal preference, but quickly settles into a genuinely good-looking beer.
The coffee isn't included during wort production; instead, Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters' cold brew is added post-fermentation, just before canning/kegging. This subtle difference becomes noticeable in the nose -- the aromatics of the coffee are downplayed in the scent but the flavor comes through forcefully in the first sip, eventually giving way to the malty foundation of the oatmeal brown ale and finishing warm with the creamy sweetness of milk sugar and a hint of molasses. Oak Cliff Coffee Ale is soft, deep and layered, which is also a good description of the bed I wanted to lay down in after just two pints of the 7.5 ABV brew.
Surely, someone will show up in the comments and say something to the effect of, "Hey man, it's just beer; only a bunch of yuppies/hipsters would screw it up by adding coffee to it." These people are dreadfully wrong. Like, of course Superman is awesome on his own and of course he can handle Brainiac's latest capers without additional help. But you know what makes Superman even more awesome? Pairing him with Wonder Woman, Batman and Aquaman and watching the Justice League work together to beat the shit out of the Legion of Doom. All good things should be paired up with other good things to become even better things. It's basic math.
In short, Oak Cliff Coffee Ale is really, really good beer. It's so good that I'm now on a quest to revisit other DEBC releases to see what else my fickle taste buds might have missed. It's so good that it makes DEBC's awkward public relations moves all the more perplexing -- there aren't any two beer drinkers on Earth who shouldn't be able to resolve their differences over a few pints of strong coffee ale and a plate full of sausage. The high alcohol content does, however, explain backing a Tea Party-loving car-salesman for political office. We've all been there, DEBC. But as long as you keep making delicious beer, Dallas will still be here for you the next morning, no matter what you post on Facebook.
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