I met Pau - the brewer at Cervesera Alcoiana - while gypsy brewing at a craft brewery not far from where he brews. Pau is partners with Toni, operating Cervesera Alcoiana and brewing the house brand Cervesa Spigha as well as a few contract beers. What impressed me about Pau was his passion for making good beer, and his voracious appetite for reading anything he can find about brewing.
So when I knew I was returning to Spain, I contacted Pau and asked if he would like to collaborate. Pau and Toni said "Let's do it." so we started talking about what specialty beer would express something about the brewery, and the region wherein it lies. The town of Alcoy in Spain is know for producing a coffee liquor called Licor de Café. We decided a Robust Porter with a Spanish coffee blend was the beer to make.
I pulled together a recipe and brewed a pilot batch. The challenge was getting both a medium roast bean from Spain that they call "Café Natural", and a special process roasted bean called "Café Torrefaco". Torrefacto is coffee beans roasted with an addition of sugar that deeply caramelizes and coats the beans in shiny blackness. The process adds a character similar to the torched sugar on the top of crème brûlée. And I wanted a touch of that character in this beer. And the pilot batch was frankly fantastic.
So with a couple tweaks to make it even better, and scale up to the volume brewed at Spigha, I sent the recipe off with enough time for them to pull the ingredients together before brew day.
There's a few people to thank for getting this beer done right in addition to Pau and Toni. First, my friend Manu Pérez Sánchez from Valencia Spain who drove us out to Alcoy (about 90 minutes from Valencia). Jackz Maertens of Illuminati Brewery (a German trained brewer) for coming along and for his assistance at the brewery. And also Mitch Steele head brewer from Stone Brewing Co. for his tips on using coffee in a big dark beer.
Ok, enough chit-chat. On to the photos.