Single-Origin Hops + Single-Origin Coffees = Java the Hop
Fort George & Coava Coffee
Here at Fort George we consider ourselves to be more closely aligned with television space epics such as Firefly and Next Generation, but we’re happy to be bringing back an old seasonal favorite for Star Wars Day, May the Fourth: JAVA THE HOP.
If you’ve been a fan of the Fort for a while, you may fondly remember Java the Hop as an IPA that smells like the perfect cup of Joe. This limited-time resurrection of our fortifying, breakfasty Coffee IPA is a collaboration with Coava Coffee in Portland. Coava’s supreme attention to detail and careful, loving bean selection meant that most of the work was done for us before we even sat down with the folks at Coava to pick a few coffee varieties that would pair well with our favorite hops. Coava is known for their close relationships to coffee farmers. Their beans pass through a lot of hands from plant to cup and they’ve personally shaken a lot of those hands.
After a lot of tasting and debate, we landed on two single-origin hop varieties and two single-origin beans that would pair well together.
What are the beans?
COAVA: We’re using two coffees for two unique iterations. Coffee is the seed of a fruit resembling a cherry that grows on a shrub in the tropics. Two seeds grow in each cherry face to face with one another. So, the beans are in fact the seeds grown within a pulpy, tart little fruit that undergoes a handful of processes and touches a lot of lives before we even get to the roasting part.
We have Wuri from Ethiopia and the other is named for the coffee’s Producer, Nichol Colbran. Wuri is made up of typica and heirloom varieties. Being from Ethiopia, “heirloom” tends to describe the myriad of varieties cultivated in any area, adapted to climate and cultivation in a traditional and fairly organic way. Nichol Colbran’s coffees are comprised of typica and bourbon varieties, which stand as two of the most well-known, high-quality producing varieties of specialty coffee.
Where do the beans come from?
COAVA: Wuri hails from Ethiopia, coffee’s homeland where it is indigenous flora. Wuri in particular comes from the Gedeb District in Yirgacheffe, which is in the southwestern part of Ethiopia, often considered one of the best places in the world for producing washed arabica coffees.
Nichol Colbran’s coffee hails from the highlands of Papua New Guinea, just north of Australia and east of the archipelago of Indonesian Islands, where Nichol’s father, Ben, began working the estate (Baroida Estate) in the 1960’s.
Why are these beans special? (all good coffee is special, obviously)
COAVA: Nichol Colbran – this coffee’s complexity and clarity of flavor are owed in part to the unique cultivation and processing methods developed by Ben Colbran and the constant innovation that has always defined the estate’s practices.
Wuri – the combination of native varietals, high altitude, and precise, laborious sorting and drying processes lead to a coffee with incredible botanical and tropical complexity in the cup, and unique flavors we don’t often see in other coffees.
Tasting notes or thoughts about the two coffees as coffee?
COAVA: Nichol Colbran – black currant, maple, & sage. Wuri – bergamot, peach, & pinot noir.
What are the Hops?
FORT GEORGE: We chose Rakua for the pronounced citrus character, thinking that would pair well with dark, berry notes in Coava’s Nichol Colbran coffee. Idaho 7 Hops went in the second version of the beer where the black tea, pinot noir notes of Wuri blend well with the fruity hop flavor, all coffee on the nose and all IPA in the mouth.
Where do they come from?
FORT GEORGE: Rakua’s a southern hemisphere crop (New Zealand), not too far away from Nichol Colbran’s origins in Papua New Guinea. Idaho 7 is all Northwest.
Why are they special?
FORT GEORGE: We’re proud to be able to work with some amazing, innovative hop farms in the Northwest and in New Zealand. Oregon and Washington are two of the best places to find high-quality hops. Java the Hop was a unique opportunity to highlight the role of responsible, small-scale agriculture in producing these two very different beverages. Hops and coffee beans might not share a lot in common as agricultural products, but they’re both carefully and lovingly grown, selected and handled before they get into our cups.
Tasting notes for these hops? What did you expect from them in these beers?
FORT GEORGE: Idaho 7 has a bold citrus, orange flavor, a complex herbal aroma and a hint of black tea. Rakua is a New Zealand hop variety with a heavy, ripe stone-fruit aroma and can impart numerous, complex tropical flavors. It felt right to pair Rakua with Nichol Colbran, thinking those two dense, bold flavors would come together perfectly.
How do you expect to see the flavors from these hops & these beans blending together?
COAVA: It was a very memorable and fun experience to be a part of the sensory test to help pick and pair the coffees and hops together.
-From the Wuri/Idaho 7 combo, I expect a beautiful floral and bright citrus aroma with juicy acidity and subtle honey-like sweetness then finishing with a crisp hop bite.
-From the Nichol Colbran/Rakau combo, I’m ready for the funky, dank aroma and flavors to pop! I’m expecting some fun botanical aromas, with stone fruit and dried tropical fruit tartness and sweetness. Both have an earthy quality that I think is going to be the really fun twist to this combo that will show up throughout. I’m thinking green tea/grassy, umami linger.
Ever had a Coffee IPA? You’ve definitely had a Coffee Stout, maybe even a Coffee Porter. But how about a Coffee Lager? Maybe a Coffee Pilsner? Do these sound terrible to you? Or super great?
COAVA: I’ve had a handful of coffee lagers, coffee ales, and one or two coffee IPAs. It’s been fun to see more and more breweries experimenting and trying different beer styles and coffee origins together. I’ve had some awesome coffee beers and I’ve also had some not-so-awesome coffee beers. It’s always fun to try when someone like Fort George is brewing something interesting up because I know that there is care and attention to detail that will always shine through each time.
There have been a number of different styles of beers brewed with coffee that some of us have had the pleasure of experiencing such as Belgian strong dark ale, Vienna Lager, Golden coffee pale ale, Bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, porter. What made Java the Hop so interesting for me is that it was the first beer in the form of an “IPA” to use an elegant Ethiopian offering bringing out very lively, crisp, floral components that I never experienced before in a beer. Looking forward to doing it again with a twist.
Gonna drink this beer from a pint glass or a ceramic mug?
COAVA: Before noon, I might have to drink out of a ceramic mug. Afternoon, I’ll switch to a crisp pint glass.
FORT GEORGE: Maybe a classic clear glass diner mug? Switch it up and go with Bone China? Either way, it’ll have to be something that lets that overwhelming coffee aroma shine.
Java the Hop is a perfect phonemic match to a movie villain(?) Mob boss(?) Creature(?) Giant Space Tadpole(?) of great renown. Being astute, culturally savvy coffee roasters/beer brewers, do you have any thoughts about Jabba the Hutt? Star Wars in general?
COAVA: Several points here:
– Jabba the Hutt is such a memorable and unique character (whether you like him or not) in a similar way that Java the Hop is.
-Solo is the best of the newer stuff and I’m sticking to it. The original 3 and Solo.
-Obviously, Jabba was both cocky and sloppy and it’s no wonder they got taken out. You run an organization on fear and greed and that’s bound to happen. But their hedonism is worthy of evoking envy and conjuring images of really treating yourself, so there’s a strong warlord/gangsta aspect that the name carries.
-If I were an Ewok, well that would be a dream come true.
-The force is definitely real! However, it cannot be “used” like in the movies. And it has no sides.
FORT GEORGE: Easy question. I remember not being even remotely fooled by Jabba the Hutt’s gross puppet mouth movements in the original films, but then also very seriously concerned about mobility? Maybe also having nightmares about being a giant tadpole/slug boss and not being able to descend from my dias without assistance… Overall, the force is probably 100% real. Midichlorians… maybe not.
Coava and Fort George both began brewing their stuff right around the same time (2008/2007). How has the growth of your company & the market affected your processes? Your values? What are the biggest differences? What’s stayed the same?
COAVA: Coava is committed to long-term, sustainable partnerships with coffee producers. We’ve worked closely with a small group of truly excellent producers for over 13 years, and we are absolutely invested in their success. We’ve helped to build new drying beds, improve living conditions, and provide the financial means to help farmers purchase new equipment and make farm-level investments. We believe in direct trade, fair prices, and paying a premium for quality.
While we have grown significantly since our inception in 2008, we’re happy to say our guiding principles stand true. The biggest changes have been in adding additional producer relationships (like Indonesia) which have been exciting for all of us.
FORT GEORGE: We like to say that every can of beer we send out into the world is a postcard from Astoria. Fort George began as a love letter from this little coastal town to the rest of the Pacific Northwest. In 2007, we were a brew pub with a half dozen employees and an 8.5 barrel system brewing unique and interesting beer for our friends, one of a few small brewpubs in Oregon just beginning to crank out new and cool stuff. We’ve experienced rapid growth over the past 15 years and we’re constantly re-inventing systems and processes as we scale up to meet demand. 2007 Fort George might be a little intimidated by 2022 Fort George’s comparatively enormous production capacity. But we’re still brewing unique and interesting beer for our friends, hosting live music and free lectures and benefit nights for local non-profits. Giving it all back, as much as we can.
In the first version of Java the Hop, we featured Rakau, a nice clean hop with a resinous quality and plenty of fresh citrus flavor that plays well with Coava’s single-origin Papua New Guinea Nichol Colbran. Rakau hails from New Zealand, a not-too-distant geographic neighbor to Nichol Colbran, and the two combine seamlessly in the final beer: the exact aroma of a shot of espresso, and the balanced tropical fruit taste of the ideal IPA. Nichol Colbran’s coffees are comprised of typica and bourbon varieties, well-known, high-quality cultivars of the world’s second favorite beverage. This coffee comes from the highlands of Papua New Guinea, north of Australia, where Nichol’s father began working the estate in the 1960s. Nichol Colbran’s black currant, maple, and sage are clearly present in the final product, cutting through a chocolate and berry aroma with a final crush of sweet pine, chocolate and orange.
For the second version of Java the Hop, we brought in a reliably citrusy, Fort George pantry staple in Idaho 7 hops. Idaho 7 ended up being the perfect partner for the strong, dark bergamot & Pinot Noir from Coava’s single-origin Wuri coffee. Wuri is made up of typica and heirloom coffee varieties perfectly suited to southwestern Ethiopia, coffee’s homeland. A familiar northwest hop aroma comes in on the nose in the final beer, quickly followed by a blast of black tea, resin and the bold, deep, bitter citrus flavor that could only come from a superb cup of coffee.
On May Fourth, 2022, you’ll find Java the Hop in a mixed 4-pack (2 x variety one, 2x variety two). But only for a limited time. This special collaboration with Coava Coffee is another super small batch can project from Fort George’s Little Miss Texas brewery on Duane Street.