It’s a bright, sunny Friday morning, and I have a few hours before I start my shift at noon. What better time to do a Beer by the Grill while preparing my lunch, dinner, and some leftovers. And since it is morning, the appropriate choice would be a Schlafly Double Bean Blonde Ale, made with chocolate and coffee.
More properly, this was sent to me by the St. Louis Brewery, which makes beers under the Schlafly name. I take some pleasure in pointing out that the name came from co-founder Thomas Schlafly, a nephew of anti-civil rights crusader Phyllis Schlafly. Mrs. Schlafly has expressed displeasure with seeing “her” name on a beer label, but as Tom points out, he was born with the name, she married into it. They also are now the largest American-owned brewer in Missouri, so if anyone in that state has the right to name a beer “America,” it’s these guys.
They describe the Double Bean as being “Brewed with Ghanaian cocoa nibs and blended with a toddy of Tanzanian beans roasted by St. Louis’ own Kaldi’s Coffee.” Normally, beers made with coffee or chocolate nibs, not to mention both, are usually much darker than this, but it turns out that’s because they’re based on a dark style like a stout. I learned otherwise with a “Dirty Summer Blonde” chocolate beer made by the former Walter Payton America’s Brewpub (now Two Brothers Roundhouse) in Aurora.
This ale pours out just a little bit hazy, showing a little opaqueness in the thicker part of the glass, with a rich brassy color, so it does come in a little darker than a Blonde Ale. It kicks up a spongy but quickly diminishing white head of foam. The smell is surprisingly lacking in both coffee and chocolate flavors. Instead there’s just a nice malt mix, goes without the sweetness that can come a blonde or golden ale.
The flavor is pretty mild on both the coffee and chocolate front. I really get just a very slight note of chocolate, and then a bit of coffee flavoring in the aftertaste. I’m hypothesizing a cold brew was added, or the beer just sat on the beans and cocoa nibs in the secondary, or before bottling.
Toward the end of the bottle, I’ve decided the coffee and chocolate are really supporting the malt backbone. Instead of being sweet, this has some substance to it. Not quite a “dry” flavor, but a savory, more complex mouthfeel.
They put this beer out in February as a limited time release. but this is really more of a late spring summer beer. It has been reported lately at Bottles and Cans in Chicago, and at some Binny’s stores.
The “Beer by the Grill” series is my writeup of beers that have been sent to me directly from the brewer or their PR people. I received no consideration other than the beer itself, and the occasional tchotchkes.