Tuesday was a big day for the guys behind Calgary’s Tool Shed Brewing Company.
Not only did they get the keys to what will become their new headquarters — they’re moving out of the shed and into their own warehouse space in the northeast — but they launched a pretty special beer.
The Night Owl Kenyan French-pressed Coffee Stout blended the talents of Tool Shed’s Graham Sherman and Jeff Orr with the coffee know-how of the folks at Phil & Sebastien. The team collaborated with Big Rock brewmaster Paul Gautreau to launch night owl to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Calgary International Beerfest.
If that’s not enough cross-pollination, all the proceeds from the beer will be donated to support a scholarship for the Brewmaster Program at Olds College.
For those wondering whether Calgary’s craft beer scene had grown into a community, there’s your answer.
Sherman told me that he had wanted to do a coffee stout for a long time that really highlighted the coffee (for those wondering, he also roasts his own beans at home).
The key was in how they were able to infuse the coffee — specially selected Kenyan Kabingara AA beans — into the beer.
Sherman said the process was like running the beer through a giant French press.
The Phil & Sebastien blog breaks down the process quite nicely.
Historically, coffee beers have been made in a number of ways: by adding ground coffee to the boil, the mash tun, or the fermentor, or even by brewing coffee with water and then adding that solution to the fermentor. From our point of view, these methods fall short — both in theory and in results — of an ideal extraction. The boil kettle is too hot, the mash tun is not hot enough, and the fermentor is way too cold. By brewing coffee with water, you end up either watering down the beer or not adding sufficient coffee flavour.
To ensure we achieved a proper extraction and brew strength, we approached the problem as if we were making a massive cup of coffee — only using beer instead of water. We used a brew ratio of 17:1 by weight, which ended up being 180 lbs of coffee! We infused the sweet, unfermented beer (called wort at this stage) with the coffee after the boil, but before it was chilled down to room temperature to ferment, allowing us to extract at an optimal temperature. Before diving right into the full-sized batch, we brewed several small-scale test batches on Tool Shed’s home-brew rig (which actually is in a tool shed) and were able to dial in the grind setting and contact time to give us the flavour profile were looking for. In particular, we found that by adjusting our grind setting we were able to really maximize acid quality, much in the same way we would when dialing in coffees on our brew bar.
The beer was launched Tuesday at Phil & Sebastien’s Mission location, where it will be exclusively available until May 2. From there, it will be on tap at the Calgary International Beerfest May 2 and 3 at the BMO Centre, and the Edmonton Craft Beer Festival June 6 and 7 at the Northlands EXPO Centre.
It’s definitely a beer worth trying, and not just because it’s helping a worthy cause (training future brewers). It’s a rich beer that truly highlights the coffee without taking away from the beer.
“It walks that line really well,” Sherman said.
It has a nice malty nose, but hits you with deep, rich coffee flavour on the palate, and has a creamy, lingering finish. It clocks in at 7% abv, and, for those who are keeping track, 42 IBU.