Last Monday, I joined Eric Matelski from Epic Brewing and Mark Slattery from First Draft Taproom & Kitchen for an amazing tasting of Epic’s Son of A Baptist, a coffee stout brewed with twelve different coffee roasters from across the country. In the past, Epic’s Son of A Baptist(SOB) was inspired by Big Bad Baptist, but they brewed it using coffee from Denver’s own Novo Coffee Roasters. This is easily my favorite Epic beer and, in my opinion, one of the best coffee stouts out there. Drinkers will love the rich flavor Novo coffee adds without overpowering the beer, as Epic’s SOB is designed to highlight the small batch coffee.
“I think of coffee as I think of hops…” – Eric Matelski, Epic Brewing
This year, Epic teamed up with twelve different roasters ranging from Novo Coffee in their backyard to Dynamite Roasting in North Carolina to Doma Coffee in Idaho. Each coffee put its own uniquely different spin on the beer. Flavors range from heavy green pepper to subtle coffee notes to even latte-style flavors. The coffee imparts a range of aromas as well, including—in an awesome twist—aromas completely different from that of the original beer.“Son of a Baptist was inspired by Big Bad Baptist, but its purpose is very different. Son of a Baptist was built from the ground up to showcase coffee. By simplifying the malt bill and removing the complexity that barrel-aging adds, we were able to let the beans shine through,” explains Epic’s Brew Master Kevin Crompton.Included in the special packaging is a sticker pack from the roasters and twelve different coffee beers. To avoid having to package twelve different cans, Epic decided to indicate the coffee roaster with a marking on the bottom of each can. For future iterations, they’re looking into ways to label the top of the cans with stickers. Eric and his team worked overtime on the packaging (limited to 40 12-packs) and you can still pick up one if you hurry into the taproom. If you do miss out, they will probably have a Nitro SOB on tap.There are three Son of a Baptist versions on tap at Epic Brewing in Denver right now, along with Baptista, and Double Barrel Big Bad Baptist…oh, and the rest of the awesome beers Epic makes.I went in expecting not much of a difference in beers, but all were different (and good!). Mark from First Draft (an admitted non-coffee drinker) was impressed with the selection and variety in the flavors of the beer as well.For the twelve different editions, I started on the East Coast and moved West.Hogan Brothers Coffee (Framingham, MA) – A slight wine flavor, some berry flavors. www.hoganbrotherscoffee.comDynamite Roasting Co. (Black Mountain, NC) – Almost a Hatch chili flavor, strong nose with a clean wash on the backend. www.dynamiteroasting.comRising Star Coffee Roasters (Cleveland, Ohio) – Sweetness similar to honey, raisins and cherries www.risingstarcoffee.comGreat Lakes Coffee Roasting Company (Detroit, Michigan) – Caramel, cane sugar flavors. Dry stout finish.Valentine Coffee Roasters (Milwaukee, WI) – No coffee aroma to it, but big coffee taste. Dark chocolate, with citrus. Sweet on the front end. www.valentinecoffeeco.com(On Nitro at the brewery right now) We liked the Nitro better, but this is a great beer.Cultivar Coffee (Dallas, Texas) – Brown sugar, caramel.Novo Coffee (Denver, Colorado) – Caramel, blueberry. Dry cocoa finish. www.novocoffee.comBlue Copper (Salt Lake City, Utah) – Apricot, green tea flavors. Finishes full, black coffee aftertaste. www.bluecopperslc.comDark Horse Coffee Roasters (San Diego, California) – Toasty, Hazelnut, and peppery. Almost fools you as a chili beer on the nose. I didn’t want to pick favorites…but… www.darkhorsecoffeeroasters.comDoma Coffee (Post Falls, Idaho) – Coffee forward. Most traditional style for a coffee stout. Almost a mocha. https://domacoffee.com/Lamill Coffee (Los Angeles, California) – “Dry Hershey bar” Chocolate, hazelnut, coffee. www.lamillcoffee.comCoava Coffee Roasters (Portland, Oregon) – Mexican Coffee, very full, great finish. www.coavacoffee.comThey’re all great beers, and each one is a different experience. If you are in Denver, rush in and grab one of the remaining 12-packs. We had a great time tasting each one, and comparing notes. If you are a coffee fan, this is definitely a must have.If you finish up at Epic and still need more great beer, First Draft is only a short walk away. Be sure to check out both if you find yourself in the RiNo district of Denver. Mark and his team showcase some of the most unique beers around and also have an incredible menu to eat from (We personally like the burger from First Draft, but the chicken sandwich should also be sampled when pouring your own beer). If you’re looking for a place to take out-of-town guests: this is the place to go.Big thanks to Eric at Epic for hosting and Mark at First Draft for the tasting notes.There is a discussion panel with Epic head brewer and the head roaster from Novo Coffee on March 20th (Monday) at Epic in Denver. We’ll be there.http://www.focusonthe.beer/event/get-smart-coffeebeer-discussion-panelTickets are cheap at $5, and you get a bag of Novo Coffee!