by Christopher Swain
As the craft beer revolution continues to flourish and expand, connoisseurs have been inventing new ways to enhance their beer drinking experiences. One increasingly popular method in pushing the flavor envelope is by infusing an already favorable beer with various spices, coffee, fruits, hops, cereals, etc… Experimentation can become your new best friend. In 2002, Dogfish Head introduced a fillable filter that connects directly to a tap called Randall the Enamel Animal. This filter system was designed to allow beer to pass through a chamber that held additional hops, fruit, etc. Fast forward 10 years later, Dogfish Head redesigned their invention to include a second filtering chamber to minimize foaming, adjustable faucet, and a separate ice chamber to keep the beer cold. Additionally, the public could purchase the Randall 3.0 directly from Dogfish Head for a low, low price of $288 (not including shipping). Unfortunately, TABC recently deemed Randalls illegal for businesses to use as they are branded/provided by Dogfish Head and were not approved prior to selling. It is not clear if this decision will affect personal purchasing of Dogfish’s infuser, but there is a much cheaper alternative to infuse your favorite brews by use of the French Press coffee maker.
For those not too familiar with the French press, it is a coffee pot with a built-in, fine mesh plunger used to strain the coffee by forcing the grounds to the bottom prior to pouring. Easy to use and cost efficient. It also makes for one delicious cup of coffee or tea. Coffee presses come in various sizes, but a larger model is preferred when using beers larger than 12 ounces.
As far as what type of beer style to choose from, certain ingredients compliment certain styles depending on personal preference. Sweeter or richer ingredients such as toasted coconut, cocoa nibs, sweetened cereals, peanut butter, spices, dark fruits, berries, and coffee compliment full bodied beers such as stouts, porters, and dark Belgian styles. Citrus, hops, and other fruits work great with IPAs, wheat beers, saisons, and sours. A lager is basic enough that almost anything would works. Maybe not a cheeseburger. Or maybe a cheeseburger… try it out.
Here’s how to do it:
- Fill a clean French press with your ingredients of choice.
- Pour ½ – ¾ of the beer over the ingredients and cover with the plunger lid (plunger pulled to top of the lid).
- Let the beer steep for 15-20 minutes or longer if you want a more flavorful beer.
- Strain the beer from the ingredients by pressing down on the plunger.
- Pour the strained concoction into glass of choice.
- Add remaining ¼ – ½ beer for carbonation.
Still trying to decide? Here are a few recipes using local beers to get you started:
- Beer: Tupps Brewery – Full Grown Man (Double Imperial Stout)
Coarsely chop ½ of a Butterfinger candy bar before adding it to the press. Use more for a richer beer. Let this one steep for 15-20 minutes. The peanut butter adds a nice rich, sweetness to the already indulgent stout. Add ice cream and create sinful beer float.
- Beer: Martin House – Salty Lady (Gose)
Add a handful or two of fresh raspberries to the press. Crush the raspberries prior to pouring the beer. Steep. Add a few frozen raspberries to your glass before pouring. The raspberries create the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and tartness.
- Beer: Community – Barrel Aged Legion (Whiskey Aged Imperial Stout)
Ingredients: Espresso beans and vanilla beans
At a little coffee goes a long way. Unlike grinding the coffee, place a small handful of coffee beans into a Ziploc bag and crack them using a rolling pin or other hard object. Split a vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the French press. Add the beer and cracked coffee. Steep for 15-20 minutes. Steep longer for a stronger coffee taste.
- Beer: Lakewood – The Temptress (Imperial Milk Stout) or BBT (Bourbon Barrel Temptress)
Ingredients: Unsweetened coconut and cocoa nibs
Preheat an oven to 325 degrees and placed shredded or flaked, unsweetened coconut on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the coconut for 3 minutes. Allow to cool prior to adding to coffee press. Add 1-2 tablespoons of each ingredient and steep for 15-20 minutes. Use more if using the entire 22oz bottle of BBT. Heaven.
- Beer: Texas Ale Project – 100 Million Angels Singing (Double IPA)
Section a grapefruit and add ½ the fruit to the press. Slightly crush the fruit segments and steep for 3-5 minutes.
- Beer: Deep Ellum – Barrel Aged Darkest Hour (Whiskey Aged Imperial Stout)
Ingredient: Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Yes, the cereal. Add a cup or so of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and steep for 15-20 minutes. Seriously, try this. It’s amazing. Sweet upon sweet – but in the best way possible.
Considering there are many great breweries in DFW, the list could go on and on. Find a beer you love and experiment with a French press!