My two favorite beverages on earth are beer and coffee, and I even like them when they’re combined. Fortunately, many Bellingham breweries have produced coffee beers, including Aslan Brewing’s Java Lava Red Ale, which was made in collaboration with Bellingham Coffee Roasters; Chuckanut Brewing’s Bean Stop Porter, made in collaboration with The Bean Stop; Wander Brewing’s Global Mutt Baltic Porter, which is made with coffee sourced directly from farmers in Brazil; Menace Brewing’s Maniac Coffee Red, which was infused with coffee from Maniac Roasting; Boundary Bay Brewery released a coffee stout a while back; and I’m sure there were others I missed.
Beers made with coffee are nothing new, of course. Beer brewers becoming coffee brewers, however, is a relatively new phenomenon, and it seems to be spreading.
While this may seem like a strange leap, beer and coffee have a lot in common. Both craft brewers and coffee roasters put a heavy emphasis on where their ingredients are grown and how they’re processed (i.e., sourcing coffee beans is just as important as sourcing malts and hops), and barley and coffee beans are both roasted to different degrees, resulting in a wide range of flavors.
Modern Times Brewing (San Diego, California)
Well known for its delicious beers, San Diego-based Modern Times Brewery is now receiving praise for its coffee as well. Its Black House Blend was awarded 94 Points on Coffee Review (the world’s leading coffee guide) and it was named the No. 2 blend in the world for 2015.
Modern Times’ coffee program grew considerably this year after it constructed a specialty roasting area within its Point Loma tasting room. The brewery roasts single-origin beans and seasonal blends on its custom, world-class Giesen roaster.
One benefit of brewers becoming roasters is that they have direct access to coffee beans for beers.
Our barrel-aged coffee program, which we believe is the largest in the world, has been a rousing success, and has gone a long way to help build enthusiasm and appreciation for coffee amongst SoCal beer geeks.
Oskar Blues Brewery (Longmont, Colorado)
Launched in 2015, Hotbox Roasters was created by Oskar Blues Brewery founder Dale Katechis alongside business partner and former chef, John Ralston. Hotbox Roasters sources premium fair-trade, single-sourced coffee beans from micro-lot farms around the world, then roasts the beans at the Oskar Blues Brewery. They call it “premium coffee without pretension.” The beans themselves are sold packaged in Crowler cans to preserve freshness.
The company currently produces three cleverly named roasts from three different countries: Bolivia Newton John, Frank Sumatra, and Kenya Dig It.
As the popularity of coffee-infused beer continues to grow, Hotbox Roasters plans to work closely with craft brewers around the country to provide custom-roasted coffee beans to be used in craft brews.
Wright Bros. Brew & Brew (Austin, Texas)
While it’s not a brewery, I thought I’d mention Brew & Brew because it’s a combination full-service coffee shop and craft beer bar, and it could represent another trend in the growing beer-coffee industry. It offers 38 taps of craft beer and coffee from Austin roaster Flat Track Coffee.
Split Batch Brewery, Coffee Shop and Bar (Rochester, New York)
Set to open in 2016, Split Batch will become Rochester’s newest craft brewery, specialty coffee roaster and breakfast/lunch spot – all in one.
In this article, Split Batch co-founder Jonathan Mervine says:
“We can’t wait to share our coffee, beer, coffee beers, and favorite breakfast foods with all of you.”
“You can start your day with us … and you can end your day with us. There will be grab-and-go coffee in the morning … and then it will give way to beer as the day progresses.”
That sounds like the perfect day to me.