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Coffee Beer: Migration Brewing’s 7th Inning ...

Coffee Beer: Migration Brewing’s 7th Inning Stretch

You’ve had a coffee stout, sure, but have you had one that tastes like milk chocolate pudding?

Launched on February 19th of this year, 7th Inning Stretch’s name comes ostensibly in honor of Migration Brewing’s 7th Anniversary here in Portland, though Migration head brewer Mike Branes hints there may have been an ulterior motive.  “One of our business partners is a Cubs fan,” he shares, “and he’s still super-hyped on the World Series.”

This is the first release of 7th Inning Stretch, offered in limited quantities on draft at the brewery’s SE Portland bar, select accounts around the city of Portland, and in 22-ounce bottles (with just a half-pallet made). Branes estimates he’s made some 50-some beers in the past, including a Batdorf & Bronson coffee IPA of which he’s especially proud, but feels 7th Inning Stretch might be the brewery’s best yet.

“Brewing with coffee adds certain challenges,” Branes tells Sprudge, from managing acidity and roast profiles to choosing which malts go into the recipe. Migration collaborated with Portland-based roaster Nossa Famlia on the beer, “which allowed us to play with profiles before brewing”, says Branes.

They settled on a Nossa’s Brazil Aterradinho, a pulp natural processed coffee from Upper Mogiana comprised of the yellow catuai variety. In a neat trick devised by Nossa Familia Director of Coffee Rob Hoos, the Aterradinho spent a brisk five days taking on a little bit something extra from inside a Bull Run Distillery whiskey barrel.

“We tracked the moisture content,” says Hoos, “and roasted and cupped as it aged.”  With just five days of exposure, you could say this was quick-treated or flash-treated or whatever kind of modifier you want to use, but in the finished product it’s totally subtle, just a whisper of wood once you know where to look. Barrel aging is controversial in the coffee world—and amongst Sprudge staff–but in a beer context, where a bit of wood is nothing shocking, the treatment works. The end result is what I’d call an atypical coffee stout—more milk chocolate than dark nibs, with none of the whomp-whomp roastiness common in coffee stouts.

That’s part of the design, says Branes. “This stout has no Caramel or Carastan malt,” he tells Sprudge—malt varieties that are commonly used in stout beers—and what dark varieties they did use were de-husked. “We find a real mild sweetness in this Brazilian coffee, and so we were very light handed with all of our dark malts. Coffee really provides the roasted character.”

There’s lactose sugar in the beer, of course—that’s what makes it a milk stout—and whether it’s these sugars or Branes’ restraint in malt selection, the end result ends up somewhere in the Jell-O Pudding Cup flavor spectrum. Think childhood Snack Packs, or maybe a nice diner mug of filter coffee with cream and sugar.

Jordan Michelman is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network, and a contributor at Willamette Week. Read more Jordan Michelman on Sprudge


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