Of all the various suds on display from DC Brau at ChurchKey‘s “tap takeover” on Monday night—-including the local brewer’s first Imperial IPA and a juniper berry-infused winter ale—-maybe the most interesting was the “Penn Quarter Porter” suffused with coffee.
The frothy dark brew is a collaboration between DC Brau and MadCap Coffee Company, the esteemed Grand Rapids-based café and roaster that will soon set up shop in the District.
Mixing caffeine and alcohol is nothing especially new, of course. Beyond Irish coffee and Four Loko, brewers have been slowly working coffee into the DNA of craft beer, too. Java stouts and coffee porters are now as ubiquitous as American pale ales and Imperial IPAs. (Perhaps the genre already reached its apogee with Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Breakfast stout, a beer that has maintained a perfect 100 score on ratebeer.com for years.)
But this particular caffeinated concoction is DC Brau’s first.
MadCap CEO Trevor Corlett selected his Colombian-grown San Sebastian coffee to infuse the beer. Less than a pound of coarsely ground beans went into the firkin with the porter where they steeped for two and half weeks. Neither the brewers nor the roaster knew exactly how the infusion would turn out, but both parties were pleased with the results.
Corlett, for one, describes the flavors as clean, sweet, and crisp, with loads of cherry and chocolate. “I think the taste complexities of the coffee really came through in the beer,” he says. “And the finish was crisp; it didn’t linger like most porters.”
Indeed, its flavor is bright with splashes of cherry and vanilla, held together by an undercurrent of citrus acidity. MadCap roasts on the lighter end of the spectrum and its coffee offers the beer a tinge of fruitiness and a clean edge.
DC Brau and MadCap are hoping to partner for a larger commercial collaboration in the near future, a partnership that will be facilitated by MadCap’s recent East Coast expansion. Corlett says the company hopes to open two locations within the District by the end of the year.
“Our only other experience with beer was at a street fair,” he says. “Founders [Brewing Company] is about three blocks from our Grand Rapids store. We made beer macchiatos using their Centennial IPA, a shot of our single-origin Burundi espresso, and steamed milk. It was awesome.”
Photo by Justin Kennedy