Six months ago, New Belgium's area representative, John Gardner, mentioned to the staff at Tryst that their master blender, Lauren Salazar, was interested in making a sour beer with coffee. At the same time, Brett Robison, Tryst's head bartender, Daniel McCombie, beverage director at The Coupe, and David Friztler, beverage director of the parent company, Tryst, Inc., were discussing a coffee beer. The two groups plotted, becoming three when Jeff McArthur at Counter Culture became involved.
Salazar's plan was for a fruit-forward sour coffee beer, playing off the use of fruit in many sour ales. She chose foeder, a large oak vessel where fermentation takes place, number 28 of Oscar, for its wine-like qualities to complement the coffee. You may know Oscar as the base beer in La Folie, New Belgium's sour brown ale.
Meanwhile, the staffs of Tryst and Counter Culture went to work, creating a custom coffee blend that would in turn be added to the beer. Much delicious experimentation ensued, involving two roasts. A Mexican traditional, Union El Triunfo, was treated to a 14-hour cold brew steeping method, bringing out notes of cocoa and maple syrup. A larger percentage of a sundried Ethiopian bean that gets slightly fermented, Kilenso Mokonisa from Sidama, imparting dark berry flavors and acidity, was poured over ice, "Japanese-style." The two coffees were then blended.
When coffee harmony was achived, it was sent to New Belgium, where Salazar blended it with the Oscar from foeder 28, 18 percent to 82 percent, respectively. The end result, along with Salazar, will be at Tryst on Wednesday, August 14th, for DC Beer Week. More details are here. Quote Salazar: "It's my Christmas!"