David Sapsis's picture

Judge's Review: 95 Rating - Golden Coffee Pale by pFriem Family Brewers

March, 2019
Judges Rating: 
23 / 24
6 / 6
38 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
19 / 20

Golden Coffee Pale by pFriem Family Brewers is being judged as BJCP category 30A spice/herb/vegetable beer:  Golden ale with coffee. The beer is served in a tall and tapered highball glass, poured vigorously at 45 degrees Fahrenheit. It casts a bright yellow/amber (~5 SRM) with bright clarity and a big rocky head stand of white fine foam, persistent for 5 minutes (!) in an undisturbed sample. 

The beer has a light cracker malt front rounded by faint herb/coffee with an initial citrus-leaf angle, with the nice light malt underlain by aromatics with dark earthy notes. Upon swirling, a big, fresh, light coffee bean (un-ground, rich, but relatively light/Vienna roast) comes out. Off-dry overall and really, really nice.  The coffee aroma mixed with the light malt sweetness is very well-balanced. 

A biscuity-cereal malt start goes quickly to a firm and assertive coffee (Vienna roast, again) note that seems to substitute largely for bitterness with mid-palate flavors of lovely cracker malt with slight sweet angles of white grape and peach esters that is fresh and refreshing. The late palate is long on malt and a beautiful reemerging bitterness/astringency that is finds the magic balance.

Overall, this is a spectacular beer. It has a delicious golden ale base, with a wide, light and fresh malt structure and hop crispness infused by an amazing coffee-berry tea. The sweet/malt  -- hop/coffee flavor space is revelatory. Now, I will acknowledge that I love coffee. As far as street cred, I grew up in Berkeley, and frequented Peets stores Nos. 1 and 3 as a punk teenager. This beer has amazingly nice coffee flavor. I have had light color coffee ales before, and they all had overbearing bitterness/harshness, and chemical caffeine notes. There is none of that here -- just a sublime marriage of two of my favorite things. If you like those two things, I cannot recommend this beer enough.