Brew Review: The Proper Dosing Silver City Needed to Achieve ‘Hero Status’

Determining the right amount of coffee dosing is based on what ​a brewery would want to express in ​its final product.

For Hero Status, a Cold Brew Coffee Ale, Silver City Brewery​ did small​-​scale testing of different coffee beans at different dosing rates, all ranging from very light to over-the-top heavy.

​”​We do this by filling growlers with the base beer and dosing each one with the crushed beans​,” said Christian Thomas, Silver City’s lead of innovation for the brew team​. ​”We collectively sit down and sample each one after 24 hours.​”

The brewers ultimately decided to lean on the heavier side​ of dosing the beer — a Brown Ale —​ with roughly one pound of roast coffee per barrel.

​”​This gives the brew a nice Pacific Northwest coffee taste and aroma, while still maintaining balance and respect for the flavors inherent in the base beer​,” Thomas said.​

The Bremerton, Washington brewery looked just down the road for its beans to innovate with​, ​working​ with​ a​ coffee roaster Caffe Cocina​ from nearby ​Poulsbo, ​Washington.

“They hosted us for a tasting of their roasts, taught us the specific tasting notes for each coffee, including geographical origin, bean quality, and the intensity of the roast​,” Thomas said.​ “With this tasting, we are able to select a bean and degree of roast that best imparts the chocolate character we desired in Hero Status while keeping the brew bright with some hints of fruit.​”

The decision they made was to use cold brew versus aging on beans. For production, Thomas said they added coffee in a large mesh bag that has been sanitized after the coffee was lightly crushed.

“The light crush does not add as much bitterness as ground coffee would, but still allows for extraction of flavor into the beer,” he said. “Brewing cold brew [and] using beer in place of water allows us to keep oxygen levels as low as possible, and still maintain a stable pH.”

They steeped the coffee for 24 hours before taking the first sample.

“The longer it steeps, the higher the potential there is for bitterness,” Thomas noted.

A beer like Hero Status comes from the innovation team having a creative brainstorming session, where they determine what the goals are for each beer.

“Nothing is off the table at this point,” Thomas said. From there, those beers are brewed on a seven-gallon pilot system.

“We start brewing a variety of recipes, in order to get our proportions and processes locked down,” he said. “The quality control and assurance team always ensure that our yeast is healthy and that we are keeping our controls tight.”

He added that during each pilot batch, every possible detail is documented daily: pH, gravity, aroma, flavor, yeast cell count, and temperature.

“We collect as many data points as possible so that we are educated and prepared when the time comes to scale the recipe to our larger brewing systems,” Thomas said.

Although limited and encouraged to drink fresh, ​using a Brown Ale base helps create a ​very shelf-stable ​product ​once it has been packaged, and with the addition of coffee, it has the potential to age very well​, Thomas pointed out​.

​”​Dark chocolate notes will become smooth and creamy, and head retention can greatly improve,” he said​.

2 Comments

  1. Angie F

    October 22, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    We had some frontline long term care staff help with evacuating residents in our Assisted Living communities during the fires in Oregon, and they ended up having to sleep in their cars after the evacuation. They celebrated their accomplishment with beer and jerky and grabbed coffee first thing the next morning. They are heroes (in the midst of Covid) and we treated them to a few cans of Hero Status from Silver City!

    • Jon Sicotte

      October 22, 2020 at 7:18 pm

      Great to hear Angie! Thanks for sharing!

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