When I think Burleigh beers, I think thirst quenchers, like the 28 Pale Ale, Hef, or the ever popular FIGJAM IPA. These are beers built to take care of us Queenslanders in the heat and sunshine. I don’t picture black beers, especially ones brewed with coffee. But that’s exactly what Burleigh brings out each winter with their Black Coffee Lager, commonly known as the Black Giraffe.
What’s on the bottle?
The Black Giraffe is part of Burleigh’s ‘A bit on the side’ range, so comes in a rather appropriate long necked bottle. The name is written on the front of the bottle in fluoro orange, surrounded by some coffee beans and four giraffe legs, complete with fluoro orange pluggers (because obviously a Black Giraffe would wear orange pluggers. It makes perfect fashion sense). The name itself comes from the good folk who roasted the coffee beans used in the brew, Zarraffa’s, whose logo features twin giraffes. And since it’s a black lager, that makes it a Black Giraffe.
What’s in the bottle?
The aroma is deceptively light considering the darkness that pours into your glass. It smells like you’d expect a Burleigh beer to smell like – the beach. Go and sip a freshly roasted coffee at a beach side cafe – that’s this beer. The taste starts with a puff of freshly roasted coffee beans – it’s brief, but it’s awesome. There’s also just a hint of sweetness in there which I’m going to say is vanilla, but it might also be caramel. And all these smells and aromas are present when the beer is fresh from the fridge, and so still quite cold…
…STOP! I can hear what you’re saying…”Nick, it’s a DARK BEER, you’re supposed to let it warm up!”…what can I say, I’m impatient! But the fact that these flavours are present early on is a good sign, because there’s plenty of people out there that are just as impatient as me when it comes to beer.
But eventually it does warm up, and I’m surprised by the hops which are doing…something? It’s a weird sensation, I can tell that they’re there but I’m not entirely sure of the exact flavours they’re imparting. Maybe it’s some citrus, maybe some pine…whatever it is, it’s good, mixing well with the roasted coffee flavours that were already there. Eventually the hops take centre stage, leaving the coffee as the backup singers. They start to change the finish as well, adding a spice that mingles with the coffee bitterness to create something really tasty.
It took me a while to get my head around this brew. My experiences with dak beers has taught me to expect something thick, maybe chocolatey or with dark fruits, things that I didn’t find in the Black Giraffe. But then it dawned on me…this is a Black Coffee LAGER, possibly the first one that I’ve had (well, since I started caring more about beer anyway). So it’s supposed to be light bodied, and there’s supposed to be hops in there. Now I get it, and I’m definitely a fan.
I just wish I’d tried it for breakfast.
If you want to try some Black Giraffe for yourself, it’s available in most good bottle shops (and even in some bad ones!). If you’re in Brisbane, head down to the Boo bowls club…they’ve got 72 bottles waiting there just for you!