New coffee beer among drinks at artisan beverage festival

Downtown Vancouver businesses provide host of offerings at Saturday event

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter



If you go

What: Drink This! artisan beverage-maker festival.

When: 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12.

Where: Several downtown businesses, including Loowit Brewing Co., 507 Columbia St., and Torque Coffee Roasters, 501 Columbia St. Maps will be provided.

Cost: Free to attend. Some businesses may charge for samples.

Information:"Drink This!" Facebook page.

Neighboring businesses Loowit Brewing and Torque Coffee Roasters might be physically separated by a wall, but that hasn't stopped them from collaborating.

The brewery at 507 Columbia St. and the coffee roaster at 501 Columbia St. have come up with a coffee stout that they plan to introduce to the public at Saturday's "Drink This!" artisan beverage festival in downtown Vancouver.

Over the past few months, Loowit owners Devon Bray and Thomas Poffenroth have been experimentally mixing their Shimmergloom Stout beer with various levels of cold brew coffee concentrate made by Torque co-owner Ryan Palmer.

And the group recently settled on what they think is the perfect mix, in a beer they're calling Brewthulhu, Bray said.

"It tastes like a regular stout, but it has a subtle coffee flavor to it," he said. "Working together with Torque, it just seemed like a natural fit. He does a lot of cold brewed coffee, and that pairs very well with dark beer."

It's not the first time Palmer has collaborated with a local brewer. In the summer he also created a coffee pale ale beer with Mt. Tabor Brewing's owner Eric Surface, Palmer said.

"The stout is a more common beer to combine with the coffee flavor," Palmer said. "But both are good pairings."

Cold brew coffee concentrate is made by soaking ground coffee at room temperature or colder for 12 to 24 hours. The method produces a very low acidic blend that's popular with those with stomach problems or those who want a smoother iced coffee flavor, he said.

It's not unusual for brewers to add coffee to beers. The methods they use to do that vary widely.

Some put coffee grounds in their mash, which is part of the brewing process where grains and other parts of the beer are soaked in water. Others put coffee beans in a beer after it's made and let it soak.

The combination coffee stout at Loowit is a straight-up mix of the coffee concentrate and the beer.

"There are a lot of variables we can play with, and we'd like to collaborate further, using different methods, different types of coffee," Palmer said.

Beverages other places, too

At the "Drink This!" event, which runs from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, participants can try the Shimmergloom Stout and cold brew coffee separately before tasting the coffee stout combination.

They can also try a host of other beverages at 17 downtown businesses. The festival includes at least three wineries, three breweries, four coffee roasters, a tea-blender and a kombucha-maker.

"It's a bunch of artisan beverage-makers from downtown, and we all got together and brainstormed and thought this thing up," said Julie Smith, co-owner of Burnt Bridge Cellars winery and the main coordinator for the event.

Beverage-makers who participate have to provide samples and be on hand to answer questions from the public. The first event, Sept. 15, brought out some great crowds, so the group decided to make it quarterly, she said.

"It's exciting because there's so much variety downtown," Smith said. "One of these times I'd like to get a soda pop maker involved, too."

Palmer said he's impressed with the scene and how open the city's beverage-makers are to working with each other.

"Events like this really drive customers to us, and it's great exposure," Palmer said. "It's a good synergy. All the breweries and folks down here, we're all very experimental."

Businesses participating in "Drink This!" will hand out maps to drink locations later this week, hopefully by Thursday, Smith said.

Visit for information.

Sue Vorenberg: 360-735-4457;;