Most of you have heard of the infamous four ingredients known as malt, hops, water, and yeast. But many of you have never considered the numerous varieties of malt, hops, and yeast out there; that contribute to the unique flavors in your glass.
In the case of the Porter, the common recipes call for dark malts or roasted barley. There are variations to this recipe. After all, as much as everyone loves Deschutes Black Butte Porter would you want every brewery to make the same beer?
In the case of Bridgeport’s Cafe Negro, a coffee-infused Porter, the brewery chose Chocolate Malts mixed in with Roasted Barley to set them apart from other Porters. But this is only the beginning of Cafe Negro as the brewery sought out many local coffee roasters’ beans and added them to the wort, while it aged in the fermenter. Now before some of you accuse Bridgeport of ‘juicing’ their beer with caffeine this is no Four Loko or Moonshot. Cafe Negro uses the oils locked in the coffee bean to contribute a unique flavor that cannot be reproduced by malt or hops alone.
Unfortunately today there isn’t a Brewers Association definition of a Coffee-infused Porter so instead we looked up Robust Porter to determine where Bridgeport’s offering fell.
Robust porters are black in color and have a roast malt flavor, often reminiscent of cocoa, but no roast barley flavor. These porters have a sharp bitterness of black malt without a highly burnt/charcoal flavor. Caramel and other malt sweetness should be present and in harmony with other distinguishing porter characters. Robust porters range from medium to full in body and have a malty sweetness. Hop bitterness is medium to high, with hop aroma and flavor ranging from negligible to medium. Diacetyl is acceptable at very low levels. Fruity esters should be evident, balanced with roast malt and hop bitterness.
Cafe Negro pours dark while shunning clarity. As it settles, Cafe Negro produces an initially strong mocha-colored foamy head. Unfortunately this froth quickly disappears leaving little in regards to a memory that any froth existed.
Letting the beer warm up from its 35 degree chill in fridge, notes of bitter coffee (reminscent of a pot of coffee sitting for an hour) and burnt roasted malt are evident.
Taking the first sip one is greeted by earthy green grass and tobacco before a very noticeable coffee presence takes hold of your taste buds. As this coffee-infused porter is finally swallowed a noticeable caramel nuttiness is recalled with the final gulp from our first sip. Overall Bridgeport’s Cafe Negro has a light to medium weight to it as it creeps across the tongue on its journey to our stomach.
Side note. This writer is first to admit that when it comes to coffee he doesn’t know his Guatemala from his Indonesian. But this beer came off as more an hour old pot of coffee than a specific varitey of coffee(sumatran?).
You Should Consider It. This beer has a lot of potential if the nose would match the flavor when consumed. Porters traditionally are ‘rubenesque’ to a stouts ‘waif’ mouthfeel / body, when compared on your palate. Overall this beer would serve well with some pork loins, maybe some chocolate cake, or at the very least ricotta or blue cheese.
About the photo’s author
Paul “Fruit Trees” Orchard, is an amateur craft beer enthusiast and amateur photographer. Throughout the many years in craft beer he is always carrying a camera (smartphone, digital, traditional) and is invites you to see that beer can also be exciting even if you can’t drink the photo.
In accordance with new FTC regulations regarding bloggers and endorsements, the aforementioned company has provided me a free sample that was used for research prior to writing this review.