It’s late spring now, just in time for seasonal drinks to come at you from everybody out there in the beverage industry trying to get abuzz in your ear as it gets hotter. One of the things that has taken off in the coffee industry in the past few years is cold brewed coffee. The long, room temperature extraction makes a very clean, ultra smooth concentration of coffee that chills well, blends well is just all around versatile. I really love a cold brew before the lazy afternoon hits in the summer, especially in the dog days.
But in reality what I like to have on hot days around home and BBQ-ing with folks is cold beer. And the craft breweries have been attuned to the idea of seasonal brews a lot longer than we have. It was in this spirit that I was able to be part of putting together a seasonal beer with our friends at Laurelwood Brewing. Vasili, the Brewmaster, had come into the roastery just before the brewing of our annual espresso stout to have a look at our coffees and learn more about taking the coffee stout to higher level. Needless to say we cupped a lot of coffees and worked out a nice blend that packed a perfect punch. It was in fact, cold brewed and added to the finshed beer in the tanks.
While cupping, I put forward the idea to Vasili the idea of working on lighter beers with coffee, accentuating the common acidities and malty notes, and maybe looking into a different kind of seasonal approach as the the coffee stout seems such a commonplace institution that only tips the iceberg of how these two crafts can merge. So we got to discussing beer profiles and complimentary fruit notes, different sorts of immersion/brewing methods for the coffees that go into a beer and we eventually circled around to talking about cascara.
Cascara is essentially the dried pulp and skin of the coffee cherry that is most commonly composted somewhere near the coffee mill and integrated into fertilizer for the coffee plants. Cascara however, has a rose hip/hibiscusy tang that comes out in a heavy tea-style infusion. Brewing cascara is said by some to be an ancient sort of practice, pre-dating roasted coffee brewing.
Fast forward to the end of winter and Vasili gave us a call. He was entering the Portland Fruit Beer Festival and the conversation we had about seasonal coffee beers and cascara stuck with him and he asked if we could source some for a beer collaboration to enter into the festival. Vasili chose to brew a Belgian Dubbel beer, something decidedly light and high acidity with light malty notes and very sweet, refreshing quality. We worked a little on the ratios and added the cascara at 2 different points in the brew. The result is just fantastic. Prior to the festival, we even got the chance to be in a littlevideo about the whole thing.
I’m excited about this beer and so grateful we got to offer something to the craft brewing community that possibly opened a few doors into the relationships between our industries. I’d suggest you inquire with Laurelwood about getting a taste of this stuff. Cheers.