…Lima Mike Oscar Papa…
Brewer’s Select Series
Our most recent release in the Brewer’s Select Series is November. Dan Hitchcock, Lead Brewer, and I thought that we might play around with coffee with this one. Dan had the great idea to utilize a Brown Ale rather than a Porter or Stout. Both of which are more commonly used for coffee infused beers. I think I’ll call it an Imperial Breakfast Brown Ale; that is, a Brown Ale made with oats and coffee.
While I usually follow the rule that simple recipes are best, Brown Ales allow for a bit more complexity in formulation. This beer for instance has 5 malts including Pale, Wheat, Dark Crystal, Carastan 30/37 and Kiln Coffee malts with a touch of Flaked Oats as well. We thought that this combination of malts would form a rich and complex base beer with notes of roast, toffee, and caramel.
In some coffee flavored beers, the coffee overwhelms the beer. We were hoping to avoid this and to have the coffee play a complementary role in the overall flavor of the beer. We thought we would like to use a local roaster if possible. That’s where master roaster, Michael Lewis, of Homestead Coffee Roasters enters the story. I called Michael and told him about our project and described the flavor we desired. He recommended using an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe bean (Organic, Fair Trade) with a light to medium roast. This combination would give us a delicate fruity coffee flavor instead of just the burnt roast flavor that would come from the darker, heavier roasted bean. This sounded perfect so I placed the order right away and two days later made the short but beautiful 20-minute drive from Easton to Upper Black Eddy along the Delaware River. Well Michael delivered brilliantly. The beans were expertly roasted and smelled great in my car on the way back to Easton. By the way, if you like coffee, I recommend visiting a roaster just for the aroma alone.
Adding the Coffee
When coffee is brewed normally in your coffee pot at home, the hot water used extracts the coffee flavor and aroma that makes coffee so nice to drink. It can also extract bitter compounds that can make coffee have an unpleasant harshness. To avoid this we used a process called “cold steeping”. In a nutshell, it is a means of extracting the coffee flavor using cold water instead of hot. Using cold water and a longer waiting period extracts the coffee flavor while keeping the harshness to a minimum. We decided to use the base beer itself for steeping. We placed the ground coffee in mesh bags (our coffee filters), hung them in a small tank, then filled the tank with the already fermented base beer, and allowed it to rest at about 50 degrees overnight. We then mixed the coffee infused beer back into the original tank.
The Finished Beer
We think that the beer came together wonderfully and the flavor is precisely what we anticipated. The beer pours with a thick, creamy white head that sticks around. The crisp carbonation opens up the aroma filled with fresh roasted coffee, bread, and a subtle fruit note. The first taste brings on an exceedingly smooth coffee flavor that meshes perfectly with the maltiness of the base beer. The oats and wheat have given this beer a very gratifying texture that makes me want to have another. This beer is ridiculously good! I hope you think so too.
As with all Brewer’s Select Beers, the beer is only available outside the brewery on draft. We bottle a small amount (60 cases) that are sold through our Visitors Center (Saturdays 12pm – 3pm) and the rest is kegged off and sent to a few different markets. November will be sent to bars in Easton, Philly, New Jersey, Maryland, Florida, Connecticut, and Nebraska.
If you like the coffee, please visit Homestead Coffee Roasters.
Homestead Coffee Roasters
1650 Bridgeton Hill Road
Upper Black Eddy, PA 18972