Heart of Darkness
The Northwest is a great place. Not only do we have a world-class assortment of breweries and beers to choose from (not to mention a pretty cool homebrewing subculture!), but we also have a great appreciation for that “other brewed beverage,” coffee. Now thatʼs all reason enough to like living here, but what really makes the Northwest great is that we might be one of the only places in the world where those two enjoyments can blend together in peace, love and harmony and share together as one glass.
Coffee beer. I have heard it called many things: an abomination in the eyes of God, a Frankenstein creature stitched together from pieces that no Man was ever meant to join. And so, my children,therein lies a tale.......
Many years ago, under lightning flashes that split the sky, while toiling, obscured, beside the shadows of huge, grinding cogwheels, I mixed such a beast. I tremble now at the memory of that night: carefully pouring liquids from one flask to another, I cared not for the rules of Nature. In my naivete, I KNEW that my experiments could produce something better than what already was.
My fermenter lay strapped to the steel table waiting for the yeast that would bring it to Life, the yeast that I held brazenly in my quivering hand.
As the rain beat upon my leaded windows like the maddened fists of the unfettered insane, and while thunder smashed its ungodly anger through the heavens above me, I poured the bubbling yeast into the darkened heart of the liquid I had created.
“Life!” I screamed, "Life!", raising my clenched fists against the crashing storm outside, “Give my Creation Life!!” As I sank to my knees, the strobe of the lightning flashes - growing ever nearer - revealed to me only the cyclopean darkness. A quiet stillness seemed to envelop the world around me, even as the storm increased its wrath outside. The ripples upon the black, stagnant liquid of my fermenter disappeared into an eerie calm as the yeast sank into the core of my beast. Reluctantly looking in, only the twisted reflection of my own face was visible upon its ebony surface.....
I wasnʼt sure what the future would hold, as I collapsed into a heap upon the cobblestones and fell into a restless sleep. Within hours, my beer was breathing. Within weeks, I had it contained within a steel keg, locked within a cooler, afraid to open it. I remembered an expression: “Let no man tear asunder what God hath joined...” I wondered if God would tear asunder what Man hath joined in this unholy union....
Until finally - days later - with spastic hands, I poured the first pint. Cold and black, with a frothy tan head, I spilled half of it, then served it to my dog, Igor. I recoiled. He didnʼt die.
But I had noticed one thing: the aroma was enticing. Chocolate and roast and coffee blended together into a tempting bouquet. My dreams that night were disturbed, darkened. What had I created?
Early the next morning, I poured a mug, and brought it to my lips. Golden sunlight streamed through half-opened shutters as a new dawn broke upon the land. Bitter, but with a caramel, malty note, roasty, smooth. It was coffee... yet beer - an ale with java: “It lives!!”
8 lbs Amber Malt Extract
8 ounces 40L crystal malt
10 ounces roasted barley
10 ounces chocolate malt
1.0 ounce Fuggles hops.....60 minutes
0.5 ounce Fuggles hops....20 minutes
0.5 ounce Fuggles hops.....10 minutes
Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup coarse-ground coffee beans* into brewpot after boil, cover with lid and steep 20 minutes, off the hot burner.
Wyeast 1084 Irish, White Labs Irish...
or yeast of choice.
Bottle with 3/4 to one cup of corn sugar, as normal.
*I like to use a light-roasted coffee, not a dark-roast (Starbucks-style) coffee. This lighter roast tends to give the beer more coffee-like and aromatic qualities, not burnt and bitter tastes. I like the two lightest Torrefazzione roasts, but let your personal preferences guide you: choose a coffee that you enjoy and your beer should turn out great.