Early one morning, a few years back, our brewers were sipping coffee as they bottled up the first batch of Curieux—a barrel-aged ale. Standing in the midst of so much fragrant fluid, they couldn’t help but notice how nicely the aroma of cold press coffee went with the scent of barrel-aged beer. This gave them an idea, and thus James Bean was born.
James Bean starts as Allagash Tripel, a strong golden ale. We then age that tripel in oak, bourbon barrels. Once the beer is ready, we pick up our whole bean coffee and get to grinding. James Bean requires in the ballpark of 500 lbs of coffee. We source our beans from Speckled Ax, a local coffee shop and roastery here in Portland, Maine whose coffee we’ve been a fan of since they first opened in 2007. We love the care they take in wood-roasting all of their own beans.
Once the coffee is all ground, we empty the grounds into mesh sacks and cold brew an enormous amount of joe. Instead of mixing in fresh tripel—like we do with other barrel-aged beers like Curieux—we pour the coffee and barrel-aged beer into a single holding vessel where the flavors marry. The resulting mix is James Bean, our coffee-infused bourbon barrel-aged ale. Cheers!