It’s on like Black Dawn!

13 Jan

Black Dawn III release party poster courtesy of Lompoc Brewing

Coffee and Beer are easily my two favorite vices. I thankfully live in the right town. Portland has its strengths (and it has its weaknesses), and I won’t venture to say that the coffee and beer here are better than anywhere else (because I haven’t been everywhere, although I’d like to), but coffee and beer are definitely one of the city’s highlights. Coffee and beer are damn good here. And there is a damn good selection of damn good coffee and beer.

And then, there is Coffee Beer, which equals a whole other level of awesomeness. It just makes me happy that you can mix these two amazing beverages and get an equally amazing beverage. And with an abundance of great coffee and great brewers in Oregon, you get an abundance of great coffee beers – some of the best I’ve ever tasted. For example, Laurelwood’s Portland Roast Espresso Stout-just released this week, Oakshire’s Overcast Espresso Stout, Ft. George’s Coffee Girl Stout and Working Girl Coffee Porter, Black Butte’s XX series, Barley Brown’s Espresso Stout, and even Bridgeport’s Café Negro Coffee Infused Porter, just to name a few.

But tonight, my perfect coffee and beer planets will align. Let me explain.

Six years ago, Michael and I lived near Mt. Tabor and spent most of our beer money at Caldera, Laurelwood Brewing, and the Horse Brass. And my coffee addiction was satisfied almost solely by Stumptown. Then we bought a house near the N Williams neighborhood, which back then, wasn’t its own neighborhood. But what we did have was a brewpub within walking distance, Lompoc’s 5Q, which would quickly become one of our favorite breweries in town.

One fateful day that first winter, I had a seasonal coffee stout (that I clearly can’t forget about…I even remember what table I was sitting at). So, I went back, but it was already gone – a brewer’s experiment. I was so disappointed at first, and then, I realized, there is always next winter. So, I waited and I waited, and I kept drinking beer at the 5Q, waiting for another seasonal, espresso stout. This went on for a few years. Each time, I was lucky if I got to enjoy it for more than one night. Very limited production, indeed.

Quick sidenote: this is one of the reasons I fell in love with Lompoc and frequent the Sidebar so often. And why I’m excited about some of the newer breweries in town like Cascade Brewing and Coalition, and why I love the Holiday Ale Festival: experimental beers, blended beers, accidental beers, one-of-a-kind beers. Sometimes, the beers might not work out, and then, sometimes you have something that wows you so much, you just can’t stop talking, thinking, dreaming about it. You may never be able to enjoy another pint of it again, but sometimes, that’s how the best things in life are – fleeting.

Then, in September 2008, Ristretto Roasters opened its doors in the HUB building on N Williams. Our fantastic realtor had actually introduced us to their coffee back when we were house hunting. And although I had decided that it was the best coffee in Portland, I was too lazy to drive out to Beaumont regularly to get their coffee. So I was beyond excited to have our very own Ristretto café in our ‘hood. Little did I know this was setting the alignment in motion.

Then, along came Zach, brewer at the New Old Lompoc on NW 23rd, who has a love for coffee stouts and experimenting with coffee stouts.  In 2009, the elusive, seasonal espresso stout from Lompoc took a leap forward. It somehow got better (thanks Zach and Ristretto!), and became more official. It had a name this time: Black Dawn.

Tonight marks the release of the Black Dawn III: A rich, full-bodied stout featuring strong roast and dark chocolate notes that play nicely with the dominating coffee presence, courtesy of more than three lbs of coffee per barrel. Once again this year, our friends at Ristretto Roasters provided the coffee, cold pressing 20 lbs of their Beaumont Blend, El Salvadoran and Peruvian beans. (Description courtesy of Lompoc Brewing).

But it doesn’t stop there! There will be three different versions of the Black Dawn III – a vertical tasting! One with all three coffees listed above, one with only the El Salvadoran beans, and one with only the Peruvian beans; plus, they will be pouring Black Dawn II (from last year) and the base beer, pre-coffee, for Black Dawn I – all on the same taster tray for you to compare and pick a favorite!!

Like I said, my (or maybe, the) perfect coffee and beer planets will align tonight.  I wouldn’t miss it for anything. Hope to see you there, because if you miss it, you know I’ll be rubbing it in with a post reviewing each of the beers.

The event starts at 4pm, tonight, Friday, January 13th

No worries, if you, or the hooligans you hang out with, aren’t stout lovers, this party will also celebrate the release of Illegally Blonde, a full-bodied Imperial vanilla cream ale that features flaked oats and flaked barley. Illegally Blonde will also be on the taster tray mentioned above. Rounding out the lineup on tap will be Arctic Blast Winter Warmer (cask conditioned and CO2), Hop Secret Imperial IPA #1, Sounder Slayer Lager and Old Tavern Rat Barleywine. This should be quite an event!

Thanks to Chris Crabb for the event information!

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