Tin Mill Brewery Brewmeister Derek LeRoy has been having some fun conjuring up a hearty winter-season beer called “Morning Whistle.” It’s a crafty combination of Midnight Whistle, their full-bodied dark doppelbock beer and Stomp’n Grounds Espresso Bar’s Blueprint Coffee tekton brand. The doppelbock beer category represents extra strong, rich and weighty lagers, characterized by an intense malty sweetness with a note of hop bitterness to balance the sweetness.
“It’s a pretty easy-going dark lager,” says Derek, “particularly good for this time of year.” “The malt used in Midnight Whistle is hand-roasted in small batches for a heartier flavor, just like a coffee bean, so there are coffee tones already going on with this beer.”
Stompin’ Grounds co-owner Jamie Walker says tekton, is a medium-roasted coffee that is sourced in Columbia (72 percent) and Rwanda (28 percent). The coffee has been harvested between April 2018 and June 2019 from both small-holder farmers and plantations in the Rutsiro District of Rwanda. He says the tasting notes are brown sugar, tea, citrus and brown spice.
The coffee is cold-brewed and then added as a flavoring to the Midnight Whistle at the Tin Mill Brewery.
“We blend the cold beer and the cold brew back together [once the beer is made], dosing the kegs,” says Derek.
After a pour, he says the coffee takes some of the “lacing” out of the Midnight Whistle’s foamy top. This is the residue that is left on the edge of the glass when a beer is consumed and is simply aesthetic for those looking for a big foam head on a lager.
Along with the look of a beer, aroma adds to the distinct character of a specific style of beer. Derek says the aroma of this beer is enhanced by the coffee.
“The beer itself is incredibly dry, but the coffee adds a sweetness [to the aroma],” he says. “In the process of tasting and swallowing it, I like the way it bounces back and forth—‘I’m drinking beer,’ I’m drinking coffee.’”
He says it took them about 10 different samples of beer to coffee ratios to find the sweet spot, where they found just the right balance between the two beverages.
With the cold-brewed coffee, he said you have to watch getting the coffee too bitter.
“If you let it rest too long, you’re going to get a lot of bitterness out of that coffee, so you want it to be strong enough to stand up in the beer, but you don’t want it to be bitter. The coffee’s acidity has a lot to do with that.”
Morning Whistle is only available on tap at the brewery at the current time.
“Next year, we’re hoping to do more seasonal beers in the cans,” he shared.
The change in seasons allows Derek the opportunity to experiment with new beers which brings new marketing opportunities as well. He says they have 20 beer taps to add variety and four “bright tanks,” in which beer is placed after primary fermentation and filtering, so it can further mature, clarify and carbonate, as well as be stored for kegging or canning.
He says he can take a single batch of beer and go a couple different ways with it—such as making a seasonal beer like the Morning Whistle.
“It’s one of my favorites to make, because I love coffee and I love beer.”