Uppers & Downers: Showcasing Coffee Beer at Intelligentsia

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Coffee Beer


Dieter Foerstner (Angel City Brewery) on White Nite

White Nite is our attempt at producing a golden stout. What’s a golden stout, you might ask? Good question. We had no idea either, so to come up with the recipe, we dissected what is the flavor profile of a stout. Depending on what you’re shooting for, it could have a full body, nice roasted characteristics, a little bit of astringency. From that flavor profile, we decided to start building our recipe. The caveat was, we have to make sure it’s golden. It’s a white beer, or golden color, basically to mess with people and while their eyes see something, their mouth tastes something else. For this beer, we started off with just a base, generic golden ale. From there, we aged our beer on cocoa nibs, to give it a little chocolatey flavor that you might get from chocolate malt, and then we started adding espresso beans, to give it that nice roasted flavor. First attempt at it, we over-coffeed it, under-cocoa’d it, and it tasted like a coffee beer. We wanted a little bit more balance out of it, so we kicked down the coffee, kicked up the cocoa, and it was close, but it wasn’t quite there yet. It still needed some astringent notes to it. To do this, we decided to take roasted malt, and add that into our beer. In order to do this, we had to grind 200 pounds of malt and we created these shaker boxes and sifted everything through, so we’re just left with these hulls, which is a great big pain in the ass.

We found out a way to get around that. We made a little cart and our parking lot is completely jacked up, and it’s got bricks, and it’s wretched, but when one of my brewers pulls one of these little wagon shaker boxes behind him, it’s really cute, and we’re able to have fun, sift and separate all the hulls. By adding that, we’re able to get a little bit more of the roasted characteristic. By doing that, the beer came out a little bit darker than we wanted to. We’re still playing with it, still perfecting our recipes, still perfecting our process, and hopefully very soon, we’ll be there. One of the greatest things about this beer – I love nitro beers – and this beer on nitrogen is really smooth, really creamy, fantastic. Cheers!

Coffee Beer

Jay Cunningham (Intelligentsia Coffee) on Three Floyds Dark Lord

I do sales for Intelligentsia most of the time…I feel really fortunate to work with Three Floyds, since they’re such a powerful force in beer. I’m just a beer enthusiast, a beer lover, and drunk. I really love beer. I had been going to this bar called The Map Room, which is one of the best beer bars in the country. I haven’t been to all of them, but I hope to. I’d been going to the Map Room for a couple years with this bartender named Barnaby [Struve]. He told me he was brewing some beer in this little brewery in Munster, Indiana, which is about 20 miles south of Chicago. It’s pretty close. It’s almost part of Chicago, but it’s in Indiana. Very strange. It’s sort of in his working class, industrial neighborhood. I hadn’t heard of Three Floyds, and Barnaby sort of became my beer mentor, served me a lot of beers, taught me a lot about them. He mentioned that they were opening a brewpub. They were just brewing beer there, so we put together a coffee program for the brewpub. We did French press, really nice coffees, and he explained to me that they brew this beer called Dark Lord, and it’s sort of a big deal.

They only brew [Dark Lord] once a year, and they only sell it once a year, and you have to go to the brewery to buy it, and they sell every bottle they make on that day, called Dark Lord Day. It’s a festival. We started working with them in 2006. At the time they were using Starbucks as the coffee element to this big stout. The beer was resinous, kind of tar-y, sort of slap you in the face Imperial stout, very high alcohol, but a lot of complexity. A lot of dry fruit and raisin, and when he told me they were using Starbucks, I kind of laughed at him and railed. We started using Black Cat, which is Intelligentsia’s flagship espresso blend, which we use in most of our coffee bars for our espresso program. They basically add the coffee in the mash, during the last minute of the boil, they just add a shit-ton of coffee into the brew kettle. When I asked him, “Is there a better way to do this? Do we filter or cold brew it?” He was basically like, “It doesn’t matter.” The beer is so big and so alcoholic and there’s so much going on, they just want this subtle coffee note. I brewed a couple batches with them, which means I stand and get drunk while they’re brewing the beer and watch them, and sometimes they make fun of me. It’s been really great. We’ve had a lot of fun with it, and we’re always at Dark Lord Day, serving coffee. We’ve been thrilled to be part of the Dark Lord phenomenon. It’s still one of the most sought after, and highest rated, beers in the world. It’s a nice beer. I would recommend not drinking too much of it. It’s a really great dessert beer, since it’s been really sweet and really complex.



Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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