Coffee finds its way into a lot of beer, and the natural affinity was explored at Uppers and Downers, a weekend event that brought together brewers and coffee roasters at Intelligentsia Coffee’s Pasadena outpost, and which culminated in coffee and beer coming together in novel and delicious ways.
Fans of both brewed beverages filled the Colorado Boulevard coffee shop, which also serves beer and wine, to sample a bevy of coffee beers, snack on luscious charcuterie from Lindy & Grundy, and learn the stories behind the beer from the brewers and roasters themselves.
The featured guests, including Stone Brewing Co. brewmaster Mitch Steele, David Walker of Firestone Walker Brewing, and local L.A. brewers Dieter Foerstner and Jeremy Raub from Angel City Brewing and Eagle Rock Brewery, respectively. Each discussed their roast and beer selection methods and techniques for infusing beer with coffee as their beers were served at the bar.
A half-dozen different coffee brews were on offer, including Stimulus, a Belgian amber ale from Eagle Rock Brewery, and several vintages of 3 Floyd’s vaunted Dark Lord barrel-aged imperial stout. But the most eye-opening marriage of beer and coffee was another Eagle Rock and Intelligentsia collaboration - the Gold Line.
More beer/coffee cocktail than traditional coffee beer, the Gold Line started with a specially prepared keg of Eagle Rock’s Revolution. The hoppy XPA was dosed with citrus peel and used lactose for added body and sweetness, then a slug of bright, acidic Intelligentsia espresso was poured into the half-glass of beer.
The two elixirs were a deft match of flavors, and the barista’s alchemy was underscored as he poured each glass causing a dramatic blossom of intensely aromatic foam as the hot coffee merged with the cold beer.
Organized by world barista champion Stephen Morrissey and beer writer/photographer Michael Kiser, Uppers and Downers was imagined as an ongoing series, with the next installment planned for Chicago in February. But with all the creative and excellent coffee beers being produced in Southern California (see Groundwork Coffee Porter, Naughty Sauce, System of a Stout) there will surely be an L.A. encore.