Good Beer Hunting

Uppers and Downers

Uppers & Downers [update] — Blending Two Worlds into One

It’s been a wild month as we prepare for the Uppers & Downers festival on Jan 25th. Many of our brewing partners are making new-to-the-world coffee beers that stretch the category, and even their own experience as they look to create unique flavors alongside roasters. 

Forbidden Root + Dark Matter
The barrel-aged coffee and blonde ale from Forbidden Root is taking shape. Brewer BJ Pichman spent an afternoon blending and tasting the different barrel-aged cold brews with the Dark Matter crew. BJ explains: “it’s meant to be a well-balanced and complex beer. Started with a thoughtful blonde ale recipe and built it up with a pinch of chocolate rye malt to frame the amazing coffee within. Rare Geisha coffee beans were aged in a Templeton Rye Manhattan barrel. Notes of cherry, vanilla, oak and chocolate dance off the glass. Words cannot do it justice.”

Pics by BJ Pichman

5 Rabbit Cerveceria + Gaslight Coffee Roasters
Tristan Coulter of Gaslight Coffee Roasters is working with 5 Rabbit to bring our “culture clash” category to life — a cascara infused berlinerweiss. Cascara is the outer fruit of the coffee bean that’s typically discarded, or used in a tea by some. It lends a variety of flavors and aromas to a beer, often increasing tartness, adding a deep red color, and funky, earthy flavors. The dried husk is either added during the boil to develop layered flavors, or steeped (dry-hopped) to add color and aroma right before serving. Combined with the lactic tartness of the berlinerweiss style, this one should be worth seeking out. 

Metropolitan Brewery + Metropolis Coffee
Metropolitan’s “Kobold” team is in the blending stage for their coffee lager. After consulting with the Metropolis Coffee Company, they were ready to start looking for the right cold brew ratios. On a -20 degree windchill afternoon, they started by heating the coffee to 180 degrees to sanitize the addition, and pumping it directly into the uncarbnonated kegs. A little rolling around, some ration tweaking, and it was time for a taste. A nutty, malty brew with a strong but balanced roast aroma, and rich toasted notes. 

Solemn Oath Brewery + Intelligentsia Coffee
Intelligentsia’s Jay Cunningham hosted Paul Schneider of Solemn Oath at the roasting works as they work toward a full range of coffee beers as part of a "collaboration case study" that will be on display at Uppers & Downers. Working together for more than a year now (since the Pasadena event that kicked off our series) these two have ventured into a wilderness of their own. Exploring a wide range of beer styles, many unexpected for coffee beers, as well as coffee making methods and blending styles, this team is making some of the most interesting and complex coffee beers in the country — and they’re going to feature six of their newest creations at the festival. 

We’re in the last couple weeks in the run-up to the festival. Other notable brewer + roaster collaborations underway include: Perennial Artisan Ales and Sump Coffee, and 4 Hands Brewery and Goshen all from St. Louis, Off Color and Quasar Coffee who are making a coffee version os Dino S’mores and Apex Predator, a funky farmhouse ale, and Virtue Cider making a cascara-steeped cider with Mad Cap roasters in Grand Rapids. 

The complete list of participants, including an incredible multi-roaster espresso bar are here.

Words + photos
by Michael Kiser