Being a Brit, tea is ingrained into you. It’s something you drink all the time – day and night. I had started to get into coffee more before I moved to the US, but similar to beer – Seattle took coffee to a whole other level. Since moving to Seattle I’ve learned a lot about coffee. And not just by consumption! Although living close to the (awesome) Lighthouse Roasters does have it’s advantages… – Adam Robbings
An introduction to Reuben’s AM Brews, our new coffee project:
Coffee is more similar to wine than beer, from a production perspective. The importance of terroir is so fundamental to coffee, like wine. From the bright, acidic, and fruity coffees regions of Africa, to the more chocolatey and fuller coffees of Central America, regional differences abound in coffee. And there are sub-terriors within each region too! Much has been written on this topic – but I’ve found the best way of learning is experimenting and enjoying the fruits of your trials.
Last year I upgraded my home roaster to a 10oz batch cylindrical roaster – which is similar to a small commercial roaster. By experimenting with many different regions of beans, with different processing types, and putting different roasting regimens upon them, grace and I have been able to try lots of different coffees. The standout of the last 12 months has to have been one that was processed via carbonic maceration.
A little primer on how coffee is harvested and processed:
After the bean is harvested from the tree it’s still enclosed in its fruit. The method of separating the fruit from the bean is can be done in many ways which each have a huge impact on flavor. Usually the fruit is processed in one of 2 ways: pulping (beans are mechanically separated from fruits before drying), and natural (the fruit is allowed to dry for 3-6 weeks before being separated from the bean). Carbonic maceration is an unusual method more often associated with winemaking, where a fruit is aged without access to oxygen. This method creates a less tannic flavor, both in wine and in coffee. We’ve used this process in our sour beer program for awhile, so when I saw a coffee bean processed in this way I had to try it – and it was an awesome explosion of fruit in a cup! But needless to say, there wasn’t very much of it available.
Coffee and Beer, a perfect pairing:
We’ve used coffee in a number of beers over the years – from IPAs to barrel-aged stouts. But despite always pairing an “off-the-shelf” coffee to the beer, we’ve never used my knowledge of coffee to create a specific coffee blend for the beer. Until now! Our latest coffee beer is a collaboration with our friends at Kuma Coffee, who we’ve partnered with on a number of projects over the years, which we’re calling “Bear Mug“: we’ve taken our classic Robust Porter to another level with the addition of our unique coffee blend.
To create the Bear Mug coffee I tried a number of varieties, and worked on a blend. I made tasting notes, and worked it down to three varietals:
A) – Guatemalan
Milk Chocolate, tobacco, caramel, rounded.
B) – Honduran
Milk chocolate, vanilla, raspberry compote, nice bright acidity
C) – Kenya
Nice and bright, bakers chocolate, little lemon, floral (almost lemongrass).
Working on creating the blend, the Honduran and Kenyan together was phenomenal. A chocolatey rich base with a bright fruit highlight, with medium acidity, was exactly what we were going for, and it’s just what we’ve achieved.
Not only does this coffee work great in the beer, but it tastes fantastic brewed on its own. So we wanted to offer it for coffee lovers all the time, not just when it’s time for a beer, and this brings us to the launch of Reuben’s AM Brews. We’ll have the roasted beans – and soon cans of cold brew made from the same blend – available for purchase at the taproom. We’ll even have our coffee blend available in the tasting room pouring as cold brew on nitro for the foreseeable future.
We’re very excited to begin offering this new beverage option on tap at our Taproom! It further expands the breadth of offerings that we have available for you when visiting us in Ballard. We hope you enjoy this new project as much as we do! – Adam Robbings