Coffee + Tripel + bourbon barrels = James Bean. James Bean – Allagash Brewing Company’s Belgian-style golden ale that’s aged in bourbon barrels and blended with cold-brewed coffee from local roaster, Speckled Ax – is now shipping. It features a balance of caramel, oak, bourbon, and coffee notes. For its 2018 release, the beer will reach Allagash’s full distribution footprint in 750 mL bottles and 5.17 gallon kegs.
“James Bean was actually the first beer we collaborated on with Matt Bolinder, of Speckled Ax,” says Jason Perkins, Brewmaster at Allagash. “We told him what we were looking for and he gave us sevent to eight different varieties of coffee to start. Among them, there was one he predicted would work best. After trying out the blends in a blind taste panel, we discovered that most didn’t blend well with the base beer at all. But, the one that Matt suggested as his choice just blew us away.”
James Bean uses naturally processed Ethiopian beans, known for their stone fruit and dark berry flavors. While the beer rested in bourbon barrels, Allagash ground about 400 lbs of coffee and then put it in a fermenter with filtered water to steep. Once the beer was complete, Perkins and his team blended it back with the beer at a precise amount, to ensure balance among the ingredients. In the end result, complex coffee flavors mix with notes of caramel, vanilla, and bourbon, that the beer gains from its stay in barrels.