If you live in Bellingham, there’s a high chance you have a liquid vice, whether it be one of the dozens of high quality coffee varieties offered around town, or the product of a booming craft beer scene. Between the dozen breweries and even more coffee shops, there’s a whole world of espresso and hops to choose from, some of them even combined into one convenient location.
If you’ve ever searched for a specialty beer in town (or made an attempt at completing the Tap Trail), you’ve definitely visited Elizabeth Station. Wall to wall in the finest beers from just about everywhere, they’re a local favorite for bottle releases, building your own six pack or finding a beautifully constructed taplist.
Last year, Bellingham was abuzz with the newest addition to the local coffee scene– Primer Coffee opened up right next door to Elizabeth Station, hence the beginning of a beautiful potential for collaboration.
On November 4, coffee and beer will become one at the Specialty Coffee Beer Fest co-hosted by Elizabeth Station and Primer Coffee. A number of local and regional breweries will partner with a variety of Pacific Northwest (and a couple more remote) coffee roasters to bring Bellingham the best of both worlds, coffee and beer combined.
We gave them total say over what they wanted to do… I have no idea what they’re going to make, it was really up to them.
Attendees can expect a number of delicious collaborations on coffee blended beers, as well as a number of coffee samples from each of the contributors, to be brewed in house by Primer.
Patrick McEvoy, owner of Elizabeth Station, has a large hand in planning the coffee and beer event, partially to allow an opportunity for customers who may not come in for both coffee and beer to enjoy the symbiosis between the two businesses.
“I think we’ve got one of the best beer experiences in town, and they [Primer], in my opinion have the best coffee experiences in town. I thought it would be cool if people could come in and check out both sides of the wall.” McEvoy said.
Part of the event includes tasting flights, allowing customers to taste multiple collaborative coffee beers. They can choose to mix beers with sample sizes of coffee, even pick out a flight of only coffee, too. Each of the coffees that will be offered on the Primer side will be the ones featured in the beers available on the Elizabeth Station side.
“Coffee beer is a style that maybe people aren’t always necessarily looking for, but one that people appreciate and like.” McEvoy said. The flights offer an opportunity to try an assortment of coffee beers that people may not be expecting.
While the common impression may be that a coffee beer will be a dark and roasty stout or porter, there will be a wider variety of coffee beers at the event with some surprising styles offered.
Which of your favorite coffee roasters and local breweries are collaborating you might ask? While the majority of the breweries are local, the coffee roasters are coming from far and wide to bring you the coffee knowledge you’ll need about pairing beers with coffee.
- Aslan Brewing Co. and DOMA Coffee (Post Falls, ID)
- Boundary Bay Brewery and Andytown Coffee Roasters (San Francisco, CA)
- Chuckanut Brewery and Primer Coffee
- Fremont Brewing Company and Slate Coffee Roasters (Seattle, WA)
- Holy Mountain Brewing Company and Elm Coffee Roasters (Seattle, WA)
- Melvin Brewing (Alpine, WY) and Huckleberry Roasters (Denver, CO)
- North Fork Brewery and Primer Coffee
- Structures Brewing and Case Study Coffee (Portland, OR)
As for the specific beers, those remain to be a bit of a surprise for the most part, until right before the event.
“We gave them total say over what they wanted to do. So Melvin and Huckleberry are making a beer together, yet I have no idea what they’re going to make, it was really up to them [the brewers and the coffee roasters] to decide what they want to make together.” McEvoy said.
It’s hard not to be a little curious though, right?
However, we were told that Chuckanut and Primer are collaborating on a coffee dunkelweizen, a dark German lager. If we know one thing it’s that Chuckanut does the dunkel right (considering it won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival this last year), so this will likely be a beautiful testament to the coffee beer that can be lighter than a stout or porter.
North Fork will do what they do best – souring a coffee beer in collaboration with Primer as well.
Fremont also shared that they will be contributing a Slate Coffee version of their Proletariat Porter, a specialty one off made specifically for this event.
As for the specifics, you’ll have to wait and find out until these beers hit Elizabeth Station’s taps and let your palette decide.
While McEvoy isn’t a coffee drinker himself, the man has a palette for specialty beer (clearly) and can appreciate the dense flavor profile of a fresh batch of specialty coffee, like the ones at Primer.
“Coffee when it’s fresh and when it’s not roasted super dark, has a wider flavor profile than wine does even. One thing we are doing over at Primer is introducing the idea that coffee is a fresh crop and has come to us in the last couple months. Where as coffee you get in the grocery store has been sitting somewhere for years maybe.” McEvoy said, of what specialty coffee and specialty beer oftentimes have in common.
“The whole idea of single origin [coffee sourced from one specific origin] is that you’ll get a totally different flavor from one region than you would from somewhere else.”
If you aren’t a coffee beer fan, you’re in luck, too. The Station will still offer their usual tap list that weekend, since the coffee beers will take over their specially set aside guest taps.
But, if you aren’t a coffee beer fan, maybe you’ll allow some of these local collaborative bad boys to refresh your memory…
Reko Suave Coffee IPA
Cold steeped with 60 lbs of Reko Ethiopian coffee beans from Camber Coffee, Reko Suave is a stellar blend between the coffee and an Australian Galaxy IPA, released earlier this summer. Reko, we miss you.
No Sleep Coffee Vanilla Stout
Structures teamed up with Primer Coffee to create a coffee vanilla stout earlier this summer. At 7.25% ABV, this beer was intended to be your afternoon pick me up to get you through the long summer days. It was as dark and delicious as it looks; in typical Structures’ style, cans went quick.
Gruff Brewing Co.
Nitro Kyle Coffee Stout
Luckily, this beer is a ghost of Bellingham coffee beer’s present and is still available at Gruff’s taproom. Made with Tony’s Coffee Ganesha blend and Skagit Valley Malting, this beer is 4% ABV and delicious.
While we can reminisce about some of these coffee beers from earlier this summer and enjoy a nitro pint at Gruff right now, you can check out the eight specialty collaboration coffees Elizabeth Station has to offer, alongside all the coffee selections the beers are made with on November 4 from 10 am-6pm at Elizabeth Station.