Schlafly Beer Collaborates With St. Louis Based Kaldi's Coffee and Schnucks Markets on Raspberry Coffee Stout
This week marks the return of our Schlafly Raspberry Coffee Stout, a collaboration brew between ourselves and St. Louis based roaster Kaldi’s Coffee and the Culinaria, a Schnucks Market. When we introduced this beer for the first time last year it was an instant hit, so much so in fact, that if you blinked your eyes, you’d have missed it.
This year, not only did we brew more to put in our 750 ml bottles, but we also brewed a fair amount specifically to have available on draft at the Schlafly Tap Room and Schlafly Bottleworks. I shot off some questions about Raspberry Coffee Sout (“RCS” if you’re cool) for Stephen Hale to answer. If you haven’t met Stephen, he’s our Tap Room Brewmaster and all around great guy, but most importantly, he’s the dude in the kilt plastered all over our website. Enjoy.
When and how did we decide to brew RCS ? How did we settle on the style?
We met with the crew from Schnucks last year to discuss what beer style they would like to see in a bottle, and after narrowing it down to “Stout”, I regaled them with the tale of one of my favorite beers of all times: a Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout homebrew in Maine in the late ‘80s. We used raspberries that had been frozen fresh after picking (from the Hilltop Raspberry Farm in Richmond, as I recall), and the physical act of freezing the fruit helped break it down when it thawed so the juice could run more freely and with greater potency (doesn’t everybody like that?). Adding this to an already fabulous beer brought us closer to Nirvana: dessert in a glass.
What do you think of it? What kind of feedback have you gotten?
We were happily more than a little surprised to see last year’s cases grow wings and leave the nest much sooner than we expected, there was almost a bit of hysteria to its first release. In short, people crave it.
How much did we make last year? How much did we make this year (keg and draft)?
We brewed one batch, which all went into [big] bottles, about 160 cases. This year we bottled that much again, and also made one batch of draft which is being poured at the Tap Room and Bottleworks.
Did you struggle with figuring out how much coffee to use? How much Raspberry? How is this 7% if our regular Stout is lower?
We struggle with every recipe, just to make sure we get it right. Knowing how much coffee we use in the Coffee Stout led us to what we felt was the right ratio for this beer, and our other reference point in the Raspberry Hefeweizen also provided a guide for how much raspberry purée to use. We took what we think is a mighty fine Oatmeal Stout and amped it up to a level that seemed good for the big bottles, and deserving of this beer style.
Can you cellar this? Should you?
Yes. No. Let me elaborate: the additional flavorings of coffee and raspberry works wonders in the beer, and it’s ready to drink now, the melding is magical over time, but right now we’re not so sure that a lot of time is needed or good for this beer, so shy of suggesting that customers purchase two cases (one for now and one for later!), I’d say enjoy it while it’s here and if a bottle lurks in a safe spot for a while, we’d love the feedback on how good it is after a bit of aging. I know I’m doing okay with my aging, it’s up to debate just how much better…
What can you tell me about the Schnucks and Kaldis collaboration part of this?
We met with Culinaria and agreed upon the beer style, we’re quite supportive of businesses like this that open up in downtown St. Louis where our original brewery is located, and they sell a lot of Schlafly beer. The Kaldi’s crew we’ve worked with since Year One of Schlafly Coffee Stout, and they’ve been working directly with coffee growers in Columbia, so they suggested a blend that wasn’t the same as the one we use for that beer. Besides, this way we get to trill our “r”s when we say Columbia Monserrate!
What is the coffee used? What makes it unique from the regular Coffee Stout?
Oh good, I get to say it again: Columbia Monserrate! It’s a different varietal, a bit lighter than the blend we use for the regular Coffee Stout; ask the Kaldi’s honchos for more details on this and their other coffees.
Anything else of interest you can share? Anecdotes? Details?
We always have fun bottling it (just ask Brennan, Chris and Miah, I’m sure they’ll agree…) because it’s so unique. We’ll see how quickly we empty the keg we’re bringing to the Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison this weekend, that’ll be a bit of proof in the pudding. All this is enough to say: “get it while you can!”
Schlafly Raspberry Coffee Stout is currently available on draft at both Schlafly breweries and 750 ml bottles will be available for purchase later this week exclusively through Schlafly, Culinaria, and select St. Louis area Schnucks Markets.
See the bottling magic first hand in this video I shot of RCS being bottled earlier this week. It’s pretty cool to see just how much “Love” we actually do bottle our beer with.