Roast Masters: Exploring the Art of Brewing Beer with Coffee
The Other Way Around
If brewers are putting coffee in beer, why can’t roasters put beer in their coffee? Well, they can. Given the popularity of coffee flavored with everything from pumpkin spice to vanilla and nuts, it was only a matter of time before roasters began to impart flavors of beer into their beans. One such roaster is the Point Coffee House in Rehoboth Beach, DE, where Sean Hixon worked with Delaware-based brewery 16 Mile to create a beer-infused coffee.
“The idea is part of our food series of ‘taking beer outside the bottle,’ ” says 16 Mile’s sales and marketing director, Claus Hagelman. “This has created gourmet cheeses, breads, ice creams, snacks, to now coffee with local small family-owned artisan companies.”
The two companies worked together to create the idea of what they wanted. “Then we stepped back and let Sean figure out how it could be done in coffee.” Hixon created a way to age coffee beans in hops. “Then the two worlds are blended together and ground, so you get a smooth malty coffee that has a hop nose,” Hagelman says.
The coffee series is called “Hops Infused.” And Hixon is also working on a very limited-edition batch, aging the beans for a year, to be released annually.
Hixon is quick to remind that historically in America, coffee was blended with chicory or malt since coffee itself was so rare and expensive.
“We are also paying tribute to history,” says Hagelman, “which is something we love to do here at the brewery.”
Beyond the Dark
Because of the similarities, most breweries—if they make a coffee beer—tend to use a porter or stout for a base. Occasionally, a brown ale, like the one from Surly, or the strong ale used in Boulevard’s Brewing Coffee Ale, make it into the mix.
However, there are some, like Carton Brewing, that go the different route. Same for Stone Brewing Co., which released DayMan Coffee IPA, a collaboration with Aleman Brewing of Chicago and Two Brothers Brewing Co. of Warrenville, IL, in mid-2013.
Calling it an intriguing beer, Stone brewer Jeremy Moynier says the IPA offers a totally different canvas from a stout, and by using Citra hops, lemony notes in the coffee both “melded together and really brought out the best of both. The coffee was bright and punchy.”
Searches of beer databases come up short on too many other examples of where coffee beers veer off the darkened path. However, it’s a good bet that, given the continuing pushing of the brewing envelope, coffee will soon find its way into all manners of styles, meaning drinkers will no longer have to decide between a mug of coffee or a glass of beer, because both will be available in the same cup.
This story appears in the May issue of All About Beer Magazine. Click here for a free trial.
John is the editor of All About Beer Magazine and the author of three books, including The American Craft Beer Cookbook. Find him on Twitter @John_Holl.