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Breweries Roasting Coffee


There’s plenty to love about a good coffee-infused beer, and increasingly, craft breweries are crossing into the realm of coffee sourcing and roasting. The overlap is in some ways a natural progression, says Modern Times Beer founder Jacob McKean. “Both craft beer and specialty coffee are about searching for extraordinary flavors. Coffee geeks and beer geeks both have very adventurous palates, and they tend to revel in the process of discovery.” Operations across the country are getting in on the action, including the three companies featured here.

Modern Times Beer, San Diego, CA 
Modern Times entered the coffee and beer industries simultaneously when the company began production in 2013. CEO and founder Jacob McKean says one of the initial reasons was to supply coffee for the year-round oatmeal stout Black House. “I knew that I would have zero tolerance for anything less than perfect coffee and perfect coffee beer,” he says, so “roasting it ourselves made a lot of sense: it gives us complete control over origin, roast profile, freshness, storage conditions, etc.; Everything you need to be super uptight about to make extraordinary coffee and beer.” Aiming to always “bring out the distinct character imparted into coffee beans by farmers and origins,” Modern Times currently offers cold brew on tap at the brewery and bags of beans, including the permanent offering Black House Blend, a “new wave take on the classic Mocha Java blend, featuring Ethiopian Hambela (think blueberry and citrus) and Sumatra Mandheling (earthy, chocolatey and full-bodied).” They also occasionally offer barrel-aged coffee, single-origin bags, and seasonal blends, like the current Secret Beach, a fruit-forward blend of Ethiopia Sidamo Guji and Burundi Karehe. Want to check out a coffee from them every month? Sign up for the subscription service.

Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, CO
Inspired by the industry similarities between craft beer and coffee, owner Dale Katechis turned his coffee roasting hobby into a full-fledged arm of the Oskar Blues operations this year with the launch of Hotbox Roasters. Armed with the vision of providing “fair-trade craft coffee that’s unpretentious and approachable for all coffee lovers,” the company currently offers three varieties with playful names: Kenya Dig It, Frank Sumatra and Bolivia Newton John. The beans are sold in Crowlers (the iconic over-sized cans used to sell the brewery’s beer) to preserve freshness and increase ease of mobility. “Coffee dude” Derek Palmer says they have plans to “quickly carve out a niche for creating coffee-infused beers” and have almost finished touches on the nitro cold brew offering that will come out this fall. Look for a Bolivia Newton John coffee stout in this year’s Great American Beer Festival, and other blends and single-origin coffees will also hit the market as the company ages.

Hops & Grain Brewing, Austin, TX 
Coffee has maintained a strong presence in the Hops & Grain operations since the brewery started in 2011. “We’ve long been advocates of freshly roasted and prepared coffees and generally enjoy preparing coffee almost as much as we like drinking it,” says owner Josh Hare. “When we made the decision to open our tasting room seven days a week, coffee just seemed like a perfect component to that schedule.” As a motion of hospitality, the brewery decided to expand their purview to include making small batches of local coffee on-site for visitors. Beans from nearby Flat Track Roasting are used in the house PorterCulture brew, and this fall they will expand to larger roasting equipment to increase capacity.

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