Friday, December 9, 2011

It's Always Darkest Before the Dawn

As many of you may recall, every January we release a big coffee stout named Black Dawn. It just so happens that's the beer I'm brewing today(and my perennial favorite). Originally designed as a series meant to feature different coffee varieties from different roasters in the same base stout, the logistics proved somewhat challenging, so we retooled the concept into an annual release. Black Dawn I featured coffee from Lone Pine Roasters in Bend, and last year we used a coffee blend from Ristretto Roasters here in Portland. We enjoyed last year's version so much that this year we've decided once again to pair with Ristretto for our coffee, but with a different twist. In the spirit of our original concept, we'll have three different versions of Black Dawn featuring three different Ristretto coffees. I'll be hosting a release party at New Old Lompoc on January 13 that will feature all three versions of Black Dawn III, plus Black Dawn II, and 2009 Pre-Dawn Imperial Stout(the base beer for Black Dawn I). We'll have taster trays available so people can sample all five beers together.

As I write, the pre-boil gravity sits at 1.065, which should produce a starting gravity somewhere around 1.070, resulting in a beer weighing in between 7.5-8% ABV. The grain bill is a complex and large one involving nearly 600 lbs of grain, and featuring Golden Promise, NW Pale, roast barley, brown, chocolate, Special B, Caraffa, and Midnight Wheat malts along with toasted barley flakes. A healthy dose of CTZ hops will provide the bittering to balance the sweetness of such a large beer while Oregon Willamette hops will round out the boil. Black Dawn III will use our house American ale yeast for fermentation. After fermentation is complete I will run the cold pressed Ristretto coffee inline to the brite tank during the transfer.

Time to get back to the brew, I've got 600 lbs of grain to bail out of my mash tun! Make sure you mark your calendars for January 13th because this event promises to be a unique tasting experience. Until next time. Cheers!

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