In February we gave you a first look at an upcoming collaboration between two local Austin businesses–brewpub Pinthouse Pizza and coffee shop Houndstooth Coffee. Last week, Houndstooth’s Head Coffee Coach Daniel Read joined Pinthouse brewers Joe Mohrfeld and Jacob Passey for the next pilot batch of what’s planned to be an amber kolsch with coffee. If you haven’t check out that first article yet, we recommend giving it a quick read before learning about their second endeavor below…
Read elaborated on the undesirable toll the beer took on the coffee.
“The coffee we soaked unfortunately didn’t hold well,” he said. “The alcohols and sugars caused some further fermenting to take place in the coffee and this led us to some off-putting smells. So we tossed it out.”
Fortunately, there was nothing off-putting about the group’s new course of action last week.
“[We] learned from our attempts and moved on to a new approach that I am very excited about,” Mohrfeld said.
Much like the group’s earlier idea, the new approach Mohrfeld utilized with this second exploratory pilot batch was one he had never tried before.
“I added the coffee to the mash to pull both color and flavor from the coffee but with the hopes of not creating an astringent wort,” he said. “We kept much of the base recipe the same, adjusting malt slightly to account for the color pickup from the coffee and did not change the hops. All in all I was very happy with the first pilot and I think it provided a good base to layer in the coffee, so I am hopeful that this addition of coffee to the mash will provide the desired characteristics.”
The coffee used in the beer comes from Finca El Diamante in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. It’s a variety called Tres which is grown at a the farm’s higher elevations. Finca el Diamante is a family run operation, owned and managed by Patricia Perez and her daughter. The coffee isn’t planted in neat rows to maximize yields like many others in the industry do. Instead, the coffee is allowed to grow wild, which allows the ecosystem to self-regulate and the land to be less taxed than it would be by repeated rounds of planting and clearing.
Though the whole Pinthouse/Houndstooth team agrees that they don’t want the coffee’s flavor to totally dominate the rest of the ingredients in the beer, they are prepared with a back up plan to boost it up a bit if the coffee in the mash ends up being too subtle.
At this stage, the beer is looking a bit lighter than the its originally intended amber hue, more of a copper really. Although, that could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, because coffee copper kolsch really rolls off the tongue.
Update 5/13: The beer has been kegged and the team is very happy with early taste tests. Pinthouse plans to tap this pilot batch on MAY 22nd at 5pm, before brewing the recipe again on the full system later in the summer.
-Photos of Daniel Read and Jacob Passey brewing Courtesy of Ali at Strange Fruit PR