Tasting Notes: Coffee King of Hop from Starr Hill Brewery

4kingscoffeepour800To celebrate the workweek finally reaching its midpoint, we are getting into some Tasting Notes action with a little help from Coffee King of Hop Imperial IPA from Starr Hill Brewery (Crozet, Virginia).

As we recently reported, Coffee King of Hop comes to us by way of Starr Hill Brewery’s Four Kings IPA Pack, a limited release mixed 12-pack that showcases the versatility of King of Hop Imperial IPA by offering it alongside inventive variants that feature various natural ingredients.  The lineup changes each year, and the 2017 Four Kings IPA Pack contains three bottles of each of the following four offerings:

  • King of Hop Imperial IPA
  • Coffee King of Hop
  • Mango Habanero King of Hop
  • Orange King of Hop

The Four Kings IPA Pack officially released on April 1, and these mixed 12-packs are available for a limited time at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Virginia, and other states within Starr Hill’s distribution area.

Coffee King of Hop immediately caught our attention when we opened the box, so let’s get into some Tasting Notes and see what this beer is all about!

Tastings Notes for Coffee King of Hop Imperial IPA from Starr Hill Brewery

Appearance:  Coffee King of Hop presents itself as a deep golden in color with hues of burnt orange radiating at its core.  Held to the light, bright yellows and oranges push through.  The body is crystal clear and displays a lively carbonation presence.  The pour produced two fingers of lily white foam.  Those carbonation bubbles are quick to feed the head, so retention is fantastic.  The foam has great stick to it, and massive webs of lace are left behind on the glass after each pull.  An absolutely beautiful beer to look at.

Aroma:  One might expect the aroma of any Imperial IPA to begin with big, bursting notes of juicy hops, but this one actually leads with the coffee.  It is nothing crazy or over the top, just a lightly-roasted coffee note that is definitely motivated to quickly stake claim to this beer.  Proving to have floral and lightly fruity characteristics, the chosen coffee beans complement the hops with ease and actually accentuate their notes of fresh citrus fruits.  A touch of light caramel sweetness from the malts finishes off the experience and adds further cohesion to the profile.

Taste:  Things flip flop a bit here as the hops take the lead in flavor.  The base Imperial IPA’s hop notes of grapefruit, tangerine and passion fruit lay down a wonderfully juicy foundation.  Just as some herbal hop notes begin to reveal themselves, they are quickly overtaken by the rising coffee tones.  The coffee is easily identified by its roasted character and soft bitterness, but it then delights and surprises the palate with those floral and fruit notes found in the nose.  Translating as flavors of citrus, stone fruit and berries, these fruit notes fuse easily with the fruitiness of the hops to create a seamless and mighty tasty experience with each sip.

Mouthfeel:  This beer is medium bodied with a somewhat assertive carbonation level.  This combo keeps things refreshing and easy drinking, but the beer does retain a bit of stickiness on the palate.  The tongue is entertained by a hearty helping of hoppy bitterness and a touch of sweetness.  For an Imperial IPA, the 7.5% ABV is incredibly reasonable and further reinforces the easy-drinking nature of the beer.  Aftertaste is made up of juicy hops notes and a bit of lingering coffee roast.

Final Thoughts:  Although I have had many previous experiences with beers that combine coffee and hops, I was honestly a bit wary of Coffee King of Hop because it is an Imperial India Pale Ale.  Although uniting coffee and hops definitely makes sense on paper (and a practice I am fully on board with), it just seems that it would translate better in styles like American Pale Ales and India Pale Ales that possess a little less aggressiveness in the hop department.  In this case . . . I must say I was totally wrong because Coffee King of Hop absolutely nailed it.  The base beer’s established hop presence works beautifully with the chosen coffee beans to create aromatic and flavor notes that are simply unmatched in my experience.  Factor in the lower ABV level and the beer’s overall drinkability, and all those worries surrounding an Imperial IPA have been washed away.  In conclusion, Coffee King of Hop is certainly a standout offering in the Four Kings IPA Pack as well as in the Coffee IPA trend in general.  If distribution in your area allows it, be sure to pick up a Four Kings IPA Pack and let us know which of these tasty brews establishes itself as your favorite.  Prost!