Sir Owlverick’s Coffee and Brewery X get hoppy for the Year of the Rabbit
Coffee has always been part of Amy Tang’s life.
“I came from a roasting family. My maternal grandfather was a coffee roaster and my dad was also a roaster,” said the founder and chief executive officer of Sir Owlvericks Coffee in Anaheim. She was born in Vietnam, but her family originated from China. When they came to the States, they brought the family business with them.
“When we came to the U.S. my father had been roasting coffee since he was 17, so he got a shop in Anaheim,” said Tang.
After an unsatisfying stint in the tech industry, Tang decided to continue her father’s business and launched Sir Owlverick’s Coffee in 2018. As a certified organic, non-GMO, women-owned and minority-owned coffee roaster, Tang found herself more fulfilled.
“You can talk to anyone about coffee,” said Tang. “It brings people together.”
Tang has not only used coffee to bring people together but to share her heritage. To that end, Sir Owlverick’s has collaborated with Anaheim’s Brewery X to create a Vietnamese coffee stout in honor of Lunar New Year.
White Rabbit Vietnamese coffee stout is made with a dark roast blend from Owlverick’s called Saigon Nights, which is a modern take on Vietnamese coffee.
Traditionally, Vietnamese coffee is a blend of chicory and Robusta beans making for a dark and smoky coffee flavor that is enhanced with sweetened condensed milk, known as cà phê sữa đá. Using Tang’s family recipe of Robusta and Arabica beans, Owlverick’s creates a smooth version that is just as good black as it is with sweetened condensed milk.
Tang worked with Trevor Walls, chief brewing officer at Brewery X, to capture that flavor in a beer.
“We said, ‘How do we come up with a beer that tastes like Vietnamese coffee?’” said Tang.
The result has a mouthfeel that is not unlike a latte. “We did this beer on nitro, rather than CO2,” Walls said.
Nitro carbonation creates smaller bubbles and a smoother texture, just like the Saigon Nights beans.
“Any beer you usually drink is carbonated with CO2 — carbon dioxide,” said Walls. “Then when you go to a coffee shop you hear about nitro ... a smaller bubble that really accentuates the flavor.”
Brewery X has used Owlverick’s coffee in brews before and collaborated last year on a Lunar New Year beer as well.
“The difference between last year and this year is we made it a white stout versus your traditional-style stout,” said Walls. “I think a lot of people get intimidated by dark beers … this is more approachable.”
A blond stout has a rich gold color instead of the deep chocolate brown drinkers usually expect from stouts. When brewing a traditional stout or porter, deeply roasted malt is used to create a smoky characteristic and dark color. For the collaboration beer, Walls said they utilized the same stout ingredients with a lighter malt to create a beer that is softer on the palate and helps the coffee flavor stand out.
“It takes out some of those notes of wood or chocolate that would detract from the coffee because the Vietnamese coffee is the star of the show,” said Walls. “So we wanted that to shine through.”
In addition to the beer, Owlverick’s has also released a special coffee blend honoring the Year of the Rabbit called Hop n’ Brew. As January’s Roaster Choice, the beans have flavor notes of caramel, fudge and a hint of citrus and are available for a limited time.
Tang fondly remembers Lunar New Year celebrated in her house.
“Coming from a Chinese and Vietnamese background, we do celebrate both cultures,” Tang said. “We have fish, we have noodles and family get-togethers.”
Even more fondly, Tang remembers the family gathered around fresh brewed cups.
“Coffee is always a tradition for my family. When I was growing up, coffee was always the main thing,” she said. “It is always bringing my family together. It’s our thing, saying ‘Hey, let’s have coffee.’”
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