Blend your own coffee stouts this winter
Perennial Artisan Ales produces some of the most highly sought after Imperial and coffee stouts in the country, but you’ll rarely find them in bottle shops. Eager beer nerds wait in long lines for prized bottles of Coffee Abraxas (a coffee variant of the equally popular Imperial stout) and Sump Coffee Stout every year.
Perennial co-owner Phil Wymore explained that blending coffee with beer is one way to enhance fruit notes, roastiness and other elements. Here, Wymore shared how to blend your own coffee stout – no homebrewing kit required.
1. Select a stout
A good coffee stout needs a strong high-alcohol base beer that can stand up to coffee. “Do something that’s pretty big,” Wymore said. “When you’re adding coffee to beer, you’re essentially diluting the stout, because coffee is mostly water.” He suggested Bell’s Brewery’s Expedition Stout.
2. Choose a coffee bean
To source the perfect beans for its coffee stouts, Perennial partners with Sump Coffee. Wymore said Central and South American beans generally pair well with fruity American stouts, though 2016’s Coffee Abraxas used an Ethiopian Chelbessa bean with piney lemon notes.
“When we do these [coffee] tastings I’ll find one or two that I’m not a big fan of, and I might find one or two that are very interesting, and one or two that are kind of classic,” Wymore said.
Compare different coffees at home by choosing two single-origin beans with distinctly different flavor profiles. For the freshest beans, Wymore suggested using a local roaster like Sump or Blueprint Coffee.
3. Brew the coffee
Cold brew coaxes the most concentrated flavor from the coffee. Combine 1 ounce ground coffee with 8 ounces water in a jar and let it steep overnight at room temperature. Strain the coffee through a fine-mesh sieve, then again through a paper coffee filter to remove all the grounds.
Wymore recommended home blenders think as if they were building a cocktail. Start with a 4-ounce pour of stout and add ½ ounce coffee; jot down tasting notes and repeat with a fresh pour until you find the elusive perfect blend. “You have to find that intersection where it works best both ways,” Wymore said. “There’s no better way than sensory [experiences].”
Bell’s Brewery Expedition Stout is available at Randall's.
Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine.
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