Crimson Cup releases hopped coffee on tap

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

On Thursday, Columbus coffee drinkers will get a first taste of a cold brew that drinks like a craft stout, minus the alcohol. The dry-hopped, nitrogen-infused cold brew-or put plainly, hopped coffee poured from a tap handle-is the creation of Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea.

They'll debut the new coffee during an Oktoberfest Celebration on Sept. 25. Stop by the Clintonville coffee shop between 4 and 7 p.m., and you'll get free samples of the new brew and food samples from Schmidt's Sausage Haus Food Truck. Also expect traditional German polka music to be playing.

The idea started with simply offering coffee on a nitrogen tap, says coffee training specialist Brandon Bir. ("Nitrogen works on Guinness, why wouldn't it work with coffee?" he quips.) So, a few months ago, they debuted a nitrogen cold brew coffee.

Then, Crimson Cup coffee buyer Dave Eldridge, a former brewer, threw out the idea of adding hops. What followed was a lot of trial and error to find the perfect combination of hops (they settled on a varietal from Oregon for its slightly bitter and floral notes) and coffee.

"We realized the coffee we were using was too fruity," Bir says, of the Ethiopian cold brew they started with. "We needed something that had lemon and coco notes." He turned to Guatemalan blend Jorge's Pick, a roast that's been on their lineup since last year. The coffee is named after Jorge DeLeon Orvalle, a coffee grader in Guatemala who helped them create a blend of Antigua coffee beans.

Here's how it works: The coffee is coarsely ground, then cold-brewed inside a 5-gallon bucket for 24 hours. "It creates this coffee concentration," he says. "We dilute it with water because the caffeine is so high. A 10-ounce pour is the equivalent of a 20-ounce hot coffee." Next, dry hops are added directly into the brew, where they infuse for a few days. Once the flavor is right, the hops are removed and the coffee is kegged. It's then pushed through the tap system with nitrogen.

"We pour it into an imperial stout glass-it looks like you are pouring a Guinness," Bir says. "It comes out very tan and the bubbles start to separate from the liquid. The really frothy milky head starts to come to the surface. The body is incredible. The coco nibs come through and the hops just hit you. It's got floral notes that are beautiful. And it finishes with the cocoa coffee flavor you get with a traditional Guatemalan."

While the hopped nitro coffee will only be available for a limited time, Bir says this won't be the last of Crimson Cup's experimentations. There will be more styles of hopped coffee in the future. What won't change is the original Ethiopian cold brew they've been serving on tap for the last few months.

The cost for a hopped nitro coffee is $3.50. Customers can purchase the coffee and take home the special edition tulip glass for $12.