About Black Shirt Brewing Co

Black Shirt Brewing Co is a progressive, artisanal brewery located in the RiNo Art District in Denver, CO. The brewery was founded by brothers Chad and Branden Miller and Chad's wife Carissa. Our focus is on creating unique, assertive, vibrant, complex, and ultimately perfectly-balanced beer. We do everything by hand, in small batches. No gimmicks. No bull shit.

Genuine. Passionate. Soulful. Authentic. Beer.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Collaborative Effort - Huckleberry Roasters / Two Tone Wolf Pack...

A few years ago, Tiffany, a good friend of mine and sous chef at duo Restaurant  introduced me to a band called Two Tone Wolf Pack and a friend of hers – John Hyde. If you’re at all connected to the creative scene in Denver, you’ve surely met John. He is a mad man, a creative power house, and is one of the sweetest and most straight-forward guys you’ll ever know. Among other things, John is the frontman of Two Tone Wolf Pack, and has kept the band going, in one form or another, for several years now. When I first heard their music I just couldn’t get enough. It’s gritty and folky Americana and it is filled with the sounds of another time and a struggle I’ve never known. I still can’t get enough. It’s become a soundtrack for my life and it reminds me that things could always be a little harder and a little worse than whatever I might be battling with at the moment.

We had the pleasure of having Two Tone Wolf Pack play a set here in the brewery for our side project Now Playing. The evening was great and their set was just as promised – rhythmic, enchanting, and gritty as all hell. Here is the link to the video from that show - Now Playing - Two Tone Wolf Pack.

Fast forward a year and a half and Two Tone Wolf Pack is gearing up to release their latest EP titled Crooked Medicine. I don’t have any of their recorded music other than what we filmed at the brewery, and so I am particularly excited to get my hands on the EP. Recently, I sat down with John Hyde to catch up and see what he has been up to (a TON, of course) and he let me in on this news as well as an exciting plan for its release. John and the band dreamed up a new plan and a new approach to get their music into the hands of Denver fans. They’ve decided to team up with yours truly and our friends over at Huckleberry Roasters to offer fans a couple of beverages that were made with and inspired by Two Tone Wolf Pack. It’s a unique concept that engages more of the community, brings craft and artisans of different mediums together, and elevates the experience of the EP release. We’re really honored to have been chosen to work alongside these guys, and to create something in their honor.

After many brainstorming sessions, we decided to team up with Koan, Kevin, and Mark at Huckleberry Roasters to create a unique coffee beer unlike any other. This is something that we’d all been talking about for a long time, well over a year, but for a variety of reasons hadn’t made it happen. John Hyde’s proposal seemed like just the thing to get the ball rolling – and my brother Chad pointing out the obvious two tones of a lighter, more vibrant coffee beer. It was set!

I’ve been watching the coffee world evolve over the past couple of years, and have really enjoyed seeing artisanal roasters like Huckleberry come up in the scene. What they do in terms of sourcing, roasting, and, ultimately, pouring coffee is a drastic departure from the industrial approach of our parent’s generation. It’s inspiring and it’s creating a range of flavors and aromas that I’ve never experienced in coffee before.

When Huckleberry announced the release of Zelelu, and described its flavor, I knew it was the coffee that I’d secretly been waiting for. With notes of white grapefruit and lime, rose petal, white tea, and honeydew, this is a coffee like I’ve never experienced before. I immediately reached out to Koan and Kevin and we sat down and talked about this coffee and how rare and special it is. To understand this coffee, you need to know that typical single-origin coffee comes from certain specific areas of the world and is often times a blend of beans from hundreds or even thousands of small farms working together – through a wash station or other coop. This is still “small scale” in the coffee world. However, Zelelu is something different. This is from one guy and his small farm of approximately 20 acres. One guy! His name is Zelelu. This is nearly unheard of in the coffee world, and it makes for a neat story and an unbelievable coffee!

Our intention behind the beer was to create a coffee beer unlike any other. We already had our coffee, it was now time to decide on the beer. Our American Red Saison is a really unique beer in and of itself. It’s a 10 grain, nearly 8% abv, refined and incredibly complex Saison that is fermented with a pure, isolated yeast culture at a relatively cool temp. It stands in stark contrast to every other Saison you’ve ever tasted. We hop the Saison with a heavy hand as well, and with hop varieties that bring lots of fruit to the aroma and palate. Stone fruits like tangerines, nectarines, and peaches as well as citrus notes like grapefruit and ripe oranges are a result of the selection of hops and the ways that we utilize them.

We thought the interplay of similar fruit characteristics and the earthy, spicy notes from our Saison yeast strain would blend well with the Zelelu coffee. Huckleberry Roasters was of the same mindset and we sat down and had a tasting and blending session. We tried 2 different coffees, at various strengths and ratios, and kept coming back to the Zelelu at a particular strength. There was something magical about it. There was something special. We all agreed that this particular blend was something the world needed and we set about scaling it up.

Zelelu Coffee Red Saison was first released on Johnny Cash’s birthday (Feb 26th, 2015) at the tap room. We had live music, several other beers on tap, merchandise specials (dress in black for Johnny Cash!), and the beer was very well received. By the time you read this, it will all be gone. That is the expense of such limited coffee, a very limited beer. We will tap a few more kegs at Leon Gallery the evening of March 28th for the release of Two Tone Wolf Pack’s EP “Crooked Medicine.” We hope you’ll join us and listen to the music that inspired this beer and taste the results of a creative community working together to craft something unique, special, and important. Should you miss the show, there is a chance of the beer returning to the tap room the week after the show to be enjoyed with the purchase of Two Tone Wolf Pack’s EP in the tap room. Stay tuned. Cheers!

1 comment:

  1. It's so great to see what this community will do for each other. To collaborate in order to support each other's businesses (beer, coffee, music) - that is truly inspiring. Cannot wait to see TTWP play and to taste these drinks.