Since the time we opened shop in the spring of 2014, we’ve been searching for the perfect signature drink… a single beverage embodying the marriage of coffee and beer that’s at the heart of the identity of Taproom. We have a great coffee program. We have fun with our rotating craft beer selection. We even have a La Marzocco Linea “Beerspresso Machine” for our draft beer tower. But what drink could possibly be the best of both worlds? Well, I’m proud to announce that, after months of exciting research and experimentation, we’ve finally found it.
Hi there World, I’d like to introduce you to....
Japanese-style iced coffee. Dry-hopped. Kegged and pulled through a nitro tap.
Japanese Iced Coffee. For our regular iced coffee service and as the base for Beerspresso, we use the Japanese-style iced coffee method, which was made popular (to us and to a lot of the specialty coffee world) by Peter Giuliano. This method results in a brighter, more aromatic iced coffee that retains a lot of the delicate flavor notes that tend to be subdued when using the more-popular “cold brew” method.
In the cold brew/Japanese-style iced coffee discussion, I like to make the analogy of lagers vs. ales: In beer, lagers are fermented at lower temperatures and result in a smoother, milder and crisper flavor profile - much like the flavor profile you get from cold-brewed iced coffee. Ales, by comparison, are fermented at higher temperatures and result in a more complex, robust, possibly floral/fruity flavor profile - much like the flavor profile you can get from hot-brewed Japanese-style iced coffee. Both types of beer and both types of iced coffee have their strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately come down to personal preference. For us at Taproom, our iced coffee preference falls to the [ale-like] Japanese-style brewing method. So we just had to see what it tastes like when...
Dry-Hopped. Hops are added to beer for bittering, flavor, and aroma. When added uncooked (or “dry”), hops can impart flavor and aroma but no bitterness - even in a beverage that isn’t beer. We experimented with adding different hop varieties to our iced coffee, and found some that really complemented or accentuated the floral/citrus notes already present in the brew. (This process doesn't add any alcohol to the coffee, by the way.) And in terms of overall flavor, the hops transformed our iced coffee to an almost-unrecognizable, extremely-delicious, new beverage - one that has a crisp citrusy brightness, hop highlights, coffee undertones, and a slightly heavier body than a normal iced coffee, all working together to present layers of flavor and complexity, further enhanced with...
Nitro. We used 100% nitrogen gas (as opposed to the typical CO₂/N₂ gas blend) so that we could serve Beerspresso on draft without carbonating the beverage. In our experiments, even a little carbonation caused the iced coffee to taste too acidic and bright because of carbonic acid (think of the slightly tart flavor you get from plain sparkling water). Nitro beers, when also served with the appropriate faucet, get a thick, creamy head (like Guiness or Left Hand Milk Stout). Nitro iced coffees have the same thick, creamy mouthfeel that ends up being reminiscent of cappuccinos or even the crema of a fresh espresso shot.
So what’s in Beerspresso, exactly? For coffee, we started with Counter Culture’s year-round offering Apollo (currently 100% Idido from Ethiopia), with bright floral and citrus notes that shone through the Japanese iced coffee method. We tried out several different kinds of hop varieties, settling on citrus-forward aroma hops for the first batches - distinct orange notes give the brew a noticeable punch that isn't too acidic, and rounds out nicely in the finish.
The great thing about Beerspresso is that it’s not a final, set formula. We’re planning on rolling out later versions with different single-origin coffees and blends, and changing up the specific hop variety to best complement the coffee. Just like our 11 other constantly-rotating beer taps, our Beerspresso tap will be a permanent fixture on our Beerspresso Machine, but we’ll keep it fresh with a new recipe every so often. We’re already planning fun experiments with seasonal spices and syrups!
I think Nitro Beerspresso is delicious. But don’t just take my word for it - come in and have a glass. As of today, you can sit down and enjoy Beerspresso at our bar, or you can take a cup to go.
And on Friday, July 24th we’re having a Beerspresso release party! Mark your calendars for a fun bash. Let's see... we can do giveaways, drink Beerspresso, and what else related to nitro... racecars... Mario Kart!!! Yup, we'll do a Nitro Beerspresso/Mario Kart video game night.