Coffee is parts curatorial, selecting beans based on flavors, aroma, quality and such. It is also creative, combining flavors together to create unique blends. As a roaster, Blas Alfaro understands that roasting coffee at the optimal time brings its true flavors to bear. The sweet smells from our dear friends next door engages our senses and challenges us to think differently. Both coffee and brewed beverages can start conversations—and this is a virtue of Fulcrum’s.
Here’s a story of Fulcrum teaming up with Two Beers to make something that accentuates the best of both companies.
What if they used a light beer instead? What if the Seattle hipster trend for IPA-style brews had created a demand for a fresh, summery take on a traditionally wintertime drink? It was a match made in SoDo. “SoDo”–short for “South of the Dome”– is Seattle’s industrial district. The port side area is full of old warehouses. Like so many places in the Emerald City, SoDo is changing dramatically. Many of these raw spaces are being repurposed, inhabited by artisans and makers. Two Beers Brewing and Fulcrum Coffee were located two doors from each other in a converted warehouse. The employees knew each other. They bumped into each other in the parking lot and at block parties. Ideas can be contagious. People, companies, and thinkers in close proximity can cross-pollinate and share inspiration.
In 2014 Fulcrum and Two Beers decided to collaborate on an artisan coffee beer. Why not. A one-off project. Coffee and dark beer have been done before. Dan, a manager at Two Beers says that with thick, malty coffee-based beers the drinker usually has to “chew [their] way to the bottom of the glass.” What if they used a light beer instead? What if the Seattle hipster trend for IPA-style brews had created a demand for a fresh, summery take on a traditionally wintertime drink? Fulcrum and Two Beers had a mutual philosophy: know your source.
Two Beers worked closely with local hops growers. They pride themselves on exclusively using Washington-grown ingredients in their brew. “We like to buy from people we specifically know,” Dan says. Same with Fulcrum. Their head roaster, Blas, regularly travels the globe to meet indigenous farmers in fields abroad. Dan and Blas began experimenting with different roasts, coffees, and beers. There were a lot of variables to play with. No rush.
After months of tinkering, they settled on an appealing combination of Ethiopian Harrar coffee mixed with an American brown ale. The result was a beer with a light, bright acidity profile with hints of walnut, almond, and chocolate. The cold brew coffee brown ale was a hit. What was intended to be a one-off seasonal treat quickly became a taproom mainstay. Buoyed by the reception of their coffee beer, Two Beers and Fulcrum followed up the next year with a coffee cider– a Costa Rican blonde roast with walnut and toffee characteristics.
Three years later Dan says both beverages are perpetual fan favorites. “We can’t get rid of them,” he laughs. His voice takes on an earnest tone. “There’s an interplay between dark and light flavors in these drinks. There’s an oscillation on the palate. It’s a totally fun, totally new experience.” Both are available at the Two Beers taproom as draft exclusives year-round. Try them. And if you do go, be sure to stop by Fulcrum for a cup of coffee. Your oscillating palate will thank you.
Visit Two Beers Brewing in the SODO neighborhood in Seattle.
They’re located at:
4700 Ohio Ave., S.
Seattle, WA 98134
Local artist, Sierra Rozario made an original illustration inspired by this story. Check it out, here.