Beer Through Brenden’s Glass: Yebuna Bira Coffee Beer
There was not so much an inspiration but a spontaneous craving between Michael Hoops, my assistant, and myself for a coffee beer. We are both hopelessly addicted to coffee, with Hoops basically drinking it all day. Hoops had previously worked at Nugget, a specialty food store, and was impressed with the quality from Equator after a “cupping” session at their plant in San Rafael. He still had a contact there who agreed to meet with us to discuss recipe formulation.
Coffee Selection Process
In terms of process, first we had to select a coffee! Equator has about 5 or 6 organic varietals to choose from and we wanted to build the beer around a specific coffee, rather than brew a specific beer style and then add coffee to it. During the extensive cupping session that involved specific water temperatures, ratios, steeping time and then various organoleptic tasting methods, a clear favorite emerged: a lightly roasted, fair trade, organic Ethiopian Sidama Ardi form the southern Guji region.
Unlike the more traditional dark roasted French and Espresso coffees, this little gem exhibited delicate floral/ lavender notes , along with vanilla, sweet lemon, dark chocolate flavors and a creamy mouthfeel. After selection we spoke with the Director of Coffee, Ted Stachura, about ratios and temperatures to get the best result from this ingredient during the beer brewing process, be it in the wooden oak barrel or at any other point. To achieve fully immersed and saturated coffee flavors and aromas we decided to add the coffee at three different stages:
- We would add 10 pounds at the end of the boil in the kettle for 4 minutes.
- Post fermentation we will add 20 pounds in a “dry-hop” method and steep for two days at 34F.
- When we transfer the beer to the serving tank we will create a “cold toddy” whose amount will depend on the coffee flavor we have achieved thus far.
For water, malt, hops and yeast, we selected some caramel and chocolate malts that exhibit coffee notes. This malt bill created a fairly strong wort, the color of coffee. We then hopped it with fruity Organic Jaryllo and floral Organic El Dorado to complement the notes of the Sidama Ardi. We fermented with our house ale yeast and will finish off with a rich, luxurious nitrogen conditioning for a latte-like effect.
As of May 23rd, it is still fermenting: OG is 16.5, IBU is 51, ABV projected at 6.6 – 6.8 %. It is called “Yebuna Bira” which is Ethiopian for “coffee beer.”