There’s an old and famous saying in the wine industry that “It takes a lot of great beer to make great wine.” Russian River Brewing Company in the heart of California wine country even makes a beer named that. The reason is that when workers on the vineyard are sweating in the sun, they’re usually reaching for some brewskis instead of a bold Cabernet. If it takes a lot of great beer to make great wine, then it must take a lot of great coffee to make great beer. We normally start our brew days around 6am, so we normally need a little bit of a pick-me-up before we get going. When we originally opened up in July of 2014, the coffee shop that was on the other side of 25th Ave had closed up, and we were mighty sad about that. However, our spirits were lifted in September of last year when Coda Coffee opened up in the old spot.
Since their opening, I’ve been thoroughly educated on the coffee brewing process, the differences between different bean origins as well as their roast, and have even participated in several cuppings to taste the differences myself. They always have a wide array of different single origin and blends available, and I’ve loved going over and trying them all through their aeropress. They even offer espresso flights, where you can taste 3 different espressos at the same time to compare them, just as we offer flights of different beers at the brewery. When I did an espresso flight for the first time, I was certainly productive that day! Suffice to say, hotel coffee has been completely ruined for me. The staff at Coda has been nothing less than extremely friendly and welcoming to us, and we look forward to sharing Edgewater’s Main Street with them for many years to come. It was only natural that when it came time to do some coffee beers, we would work with Coda.
Our first “coffee” beer we did with Coda was The Wall White Stout. Although we don’t really advertise it as a coffee beer, it was brewed using about 15 pounds of their Notorious Espresso blend. You can read more about The Wall here: http://joyridebrewing.com/3513-2/. For that beer, we used a method we call “dry beaning”, which is a play on the common practice of dry hopping. The Wall is a fantastic beer that is extremely unique, and the dry beaning method got the flavor I was looking for in that beer. But when it came to doing a coffee porter, I was looking for a completely different flavor from the coffee.
My favorite way to add coffee to beer is by using cold brewed coffee. Cold brewed coffee is different than iced coffee as cold brewed coffee is never heated. The coffee is actually brewed at cooler temperatures while iced coffee is normal coffee that has been cooled down. Some of the advantages of cold brewed coffee is that the acidity level is way lower since it’s never heated. Higher heat leads to the extraction of certain chemicals that can be quite acrid. There’s also no delusion since you’re not adding ice to hot coffee to cool it down. The result is a more concentrated, smoother and a bit sweeter beverage to sip on. If you’re interested in tasting some cold brewed coffee, Coda has some on a nitro tap in their shop.
Today and tomorrow, Coda is hosting their first Latte Foam Art Throwdown at their location across the street, and asked us if we could provide an area for people to watch the action while drinking beer. We agreed immediately, and Coda will be streaming live footage from their event to several of our TVs in the brewery. For more info on the event, check out http://www.throwdown16.com/. We thought it would be ever so clever to have a coffee porter on tap during the event, so we asked Coda to cold brew some coffee for us. Unlike The Wall where I hand picked the blend that ultimately was used in the beer after several rounds of cuppings, I asked the fine folks at Coda to select the coffee for this beer. They chose their Guatemalan single origin, which has notes of strawberry, wheat and honey. It is grown at extremely high elevations and uses a natural process where the beans are dried in the sun and hand picked. It is a very tasty coffee on it’s own, and adds a wonderful component to the beer.
The base porter recipe is the same one we use for our Naughty and Nice Porters, which you can read more about here: http://joyridebrewing.com/naughty-and-nice-porters/. Taken directly from that blog post, “The base recipe calls for American 2 row, two types of crystal, Munich, Chocolate and Black patent malts. We hop with a combination of Horizon and EKG before fermenting with a classic English yeast. Pretty simple. Then we wait for fermentation to finish before the real fun begins.” Once fermentation is complete, we infuse the porter with the cold brewed coffee for two days before we crash it. We take precautions to make sure we don’t add any oxygen at this point, which would prematurely stale the beer.
My philosophy on using spices with beer (and I do consider coffee a spice in this instance) is that the spice should enhance the overall beer flavor, not dominate it. I don’t want my coffee beer to taste just like a cup of coffee, if I wanted that, I would just order a cup of coffee. But if used correctly, the spice (or coffee) should add an interesting complexity that was not there originally. Depending on the time of day and the condition my palate is currently in, the coffee comes across several different ways. I’ve picked up on the strawberry in some instances, gotten big honey in others, and also had the beer taste like a chocolatey mocha. That complexity is really fun for me as I never know what I’m going to get. The final stats for Coda Coffee Porter are 6.2% ABV, 41 IBU and 31 SRM.
As far as a caffeine standpoint, I wouldn’t be too concerned. There are roughly 71.825 eight oz cups of coffee in our 10 bbl batch, which comes to 0.029 eight oz cups per pint, or 0.23 oz per pint.
We’re looking forward to many more years of collaborating with Coda Coffee, perhaps even doing a series one day with different beans in each batch to showcase their differences when added to beer. And if you don’t have any plans tonight, swing by the brewery to check out the Latte Foam Art Throwdown on our TVs or stop by Coda themselves. It should be pretty awesome. And while you’re here, grab a pint of Coffee Porter and see what it’s all about. Hop On!