In search of the perfect espresso
In early spring, two craft beer brewers walked into the Nordaggios coffee shop looking for the perfect coffee blend for their next creation: a flavor-packed imperial stout.
“I always knew I wanted to work with Nordaggios,” said Chase Healey, owner and brewmaster of Prairie Artisan Ales. “Growing up in South Tulsa, it was a place I was quite familiar with, and they roast their own coffee.”
Healey and Freddy Lamport, owner of Biergarten, tried all the different roasts at Nordaggios. They needed a rich, bold coffee to balance the complex stout.
“Cacao nibs, ancho chilis, vanilla, it’s a big imperial stout.” said Lamport. “That’s why we chose the espresso. It was rich and bold, had a lot of flavor.”
“The espresso had the intensity we needed from the coffee to stand up to the flavor of the chocolate and the beer flavor,” said Healey.
Brewing the Perfect Stout
The chemistry of the Nordaggios espresso worked out well with the brewing process.
“The Espresso Divino already has chocolatey notes, which blends well with the raw chocolate nibs and the imperial stout brewing method,” said Tor Nordstrom, owner of Nordaggios.
“Once we knew the raw materials we were using, we just kind of went for it. I tend not to overly test things,” said Healey.
Over 100 lbs. of coffee went into the 2013 brewing sessions. They only brewed a small batch at first, waiting to see how people would react to the most expensive beer they had ever done.
“The brewing process could have been risky, bringing the cayenne, chocolate, and coffee together. Nordaggios takes their hat off to the skills of Prairie Artisan Ales, really a top-notch brewer,” said Tor Nordstrom.
“All the flavors meld together, everything comes out very balanced, with none of the flavors overly dominating,” said Healey. “It all works together to create something unique, not just beer with a whole bunch of coffee flavor or a whole bunch of chocolate.”
Prairie Bomb went on to take the nation by storm, earning a “world-class” score in Beer Advocate.
“It kind of exploded on us. It’s nationwide and we really can’t keep up,” said Healey.
“People all over the nation, especially within the beer geek trading world, are actively seeking, desperately trying to get their hands on it,” said Lamport.
“Seeing that level of enthusiasm from people who have no connection to our brand is humbling,” said Healey.
Prairie Bomb’s success also shed light on a growing craft beer scene in Oklahoma. 2013 was a huge year for brewers in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Prairie Ales, Dead Armadillo, and Rough Tail started gaining momentum, and Marshall Brewing Company celebrated their 5th anniversary.
The success of Prairie Bomb hasn’t changed the brewer’s taste in coffee. “For me, the Nordaggios espresso really nails it on the head. I can get that shot and roll; that’s my preferred coffee consumption,” said Healey.