Hardywood is releasing their Sidamo Coffee Stout this Saturday January 5th starting at 11am. I caught up with co-founder Eric McKay to inquire about decision to replace Mocha Belgique. In his reply, he confirms the replacement but leaves the door ajar for a possible revamp plus hints at the next barrel series beer:
Sidamo Coffee Stout is going to replace Mocha Belgique. We really enjoyed working with the guys from Black Hand on that beer last year, and did receive some great feedback on it. That said, we also reviewed a lot of the negative feedback and our own perceptions of the beer and felt that the use of chocolate and particularly our choice of a Belgian yeast strain created some complex flavors that distracted from the coffee. Ultimately, with our Reserve Series, we want to showcase the local ingredients we use, not mask them, and have done a fair amount of brainstorming on reinventing a coffee beer in a way that would highlight the signature ingredient.Through our team members frequent visits to Lamplighter and its Kickstand counterpart right around the corner in Scott’s Addition, we’ve built a good relationship with them and explored some ideas with them through a cupping. Ultimately, we came out of it in love with the unique flavor and aroma of their Sidamo coffee and decided to blend it with a Russian Imperial Stout recipe (no lactose in this one!) that keeps the focus squarely on the coffee.We may bring back Mocha Belgique on a smaller pilot scale at some point, or do a variation of the base beer without chocolate or coffee, but in the meantime, we’re feeling really good about this new Sidamo Coffee Stout and are planning to age some in freshly dumped Maker’s Mark barrels (due to limited supply of Bowman barrels).The only other beer from our commercial releases that will go into retirement this year due to customer feedback is Virginia Strawberry. Not only did the strawberries create some unusual flavors, they were obscenely labor intensive to process. Fortunately, we’ll be brewing more Virginia Blackberry this year with berries from the same local farmer, Agriberry.