Alaskan Brewing Co. is featuring innovation and collaboration in its 2017 fall seasonal Heritage Coffee Brown Ale. First released on a limited basis in 2015, Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown Ale is back once again this autumn.
Getting that smooth coffee flavor
Brewed with a goal of smooth coffee flavor from start to finish, this seasonal brew focuses on local ingredients and the spirit of collaboration to craft a rich brown ale with big cocoa aroma.
“This beer started with the idea of coffee roasted malts, similar to what has been done with Smoked Porter for years. Instead of smoking the malts, we wanted to try to roast them in a coffee roaster, incorporating coffee beans into the malt itself,” said Darin Jensen, marketing specialist at Alaskan Brewing. “We met with Heritage Coffee, and they were as excited as we were about the idea. This was the first coffee beer we’ve brewed where we tried this new method of roasting the malts in the coffee roaster, which imparts an even deeper, richer core coffee aroma.”
Heritage Coffee Brown is Alaskan Brewing’s second collaboration of the year with Juneau mainstay Heritage Coffee Roasting Co. Coupled with the Alaskan Mocha Milk Stout, this fall’s selection is coffee-inspired, in a break from the standard autumnal selection of pumpkin-flavored beers.
“The team from Heritage worked with us to figure out the best coffee to pair with the earthy, more herbal hops we planned to use,” said Jensen. “We wanted to do a really good representation of a true coffee beer, something that wasn’t acrid or bitter, but brought out that roasted aroma. A lot of the time with coffee beers, it’s a huge beer — high alcohol, tons of coffee flavor — so it can be a challenge to drink. We were shooting for the perfect balance between coffee and beer to get those two to match up and be very drinkable.”
Incorporating the coffee
Heritage’s roast of the Brazilian Paixao is a caramel, honey-sweet bean that was ultimately the coffee of choice to blend with the flavors of the brown ale. Coffee flavor is introduced several different points in the brewing process. First, some of the malt is roasted in Heritage’s coffee roaster, complete with the inclusion of coffee beans. Later, the coffee is cold-brewed to reduce bitterness and incorporated in both the kettle boil and the end of fermentation. The end result is a medium-bodied beer but with a full coffee taste and aroma.
“Ideally, we were looking to incorporate the coffee in both the roasting stage, which we weren’t even sure was possible at first, then cold-brew it and reintroduce it later as well. It’s a double dose of coffee, which really gets that deep, rich flavor in there, without being too dark or heavy,” Jensen said.
In contrast, the limited edition Pilot Series Mocha Milk Stout is a full-bodied beer with a rich, robust and fairly sweet coffee and chocolate flavor, brought forward through the use of cocoa nibs and Heritage’s roast of Guatemalan Huehuetenango coffee. The creamy full body is augmented by the addition of lactose, which is the reason it is classified as a milk stout.
Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown is now released and will be available until the end of October. Mocha Milk Stout is also available through October.