Something was brewing when the owners of GoodBean and Caldera got together Monday morning.
GoodBean owner Mike Kell and Caldera Brewing owner Jim Mills were looking over the beer maker's soon-to-open Clover Lane site in Ashland when the conversation turned to coffee. More specifically, beer made with elements of GoodBean coffee.
Caldera was looking for a coffee to serve its pub clients, and GoodBean is gearing up to serve beer and wine at its Hillcrest Road location in Medford. A quick handshake scored an exclusive hook-up for a GoodBean Coffee brown beer, along with GoodBean coffee, on the Caldera menu, while Caldera will be the lone beer brand at the coffee shop.
"This is bigger than selling some coffee," said Kell, who has operated a coffee business for 23 years. "Here you have Caldera, and GoodBean, two high-profile local producers, and two strands are stronger than one. I said we should do something together, highlighting our strengths."
Kell suggested a stout or porter with espresso, sporting the GoodBean moniker.
"I told Jim we're considering offering beer and wine and asked if Caldera would be interested in being our exclusive brand," Kell said. "He put out his hand and we shook."
Mills was primed to make the leap after a visit last week to Fate Brewing Co., in Scottsdale, Ariz., where coffee porter and stout flavors are on tap. What he has in mind, however, is a brown ale.
"We'll probably just crack the beans, using a course grind," Mills said. "We'll put it in hop sack — like a tea bag — put it inside a keg and let it steep for about a week."
Caldera will start with a half-batch — five 31-gallon barrels equal to two kegs per barrel.
"We'll see how it turns out and then we'll do another batch and blend it together," he said. "That way we can adjust it either way, whether we had too much or not enough. That's typical of what we do with a new brew."
It's the first coffee-related beer Caldera has produced in 10 years, Mills said. A decade ago, he made one keg of chocolate-covered kona beans.
"It turned out great," he said. "The chocolate and coffee flavors really came through."
Caldera beer can be found as far away as the East Coast, while GoodBean coffee continues making in-roads at the retail level in 70 grocery stores in Oregon, ranging from Albertsons, Safeway and Ray's Food Place, to Market of Choice, Harry & David and Food 4 Less.
"We've actually got a pretty good footprint in the Portland and Willamette Valley area and we have developed a presence in the Yreka and Mount Shasta area," Kell said.
Mills anticipates Caldera will get final occupancy approval for its new brewery and pub in the next 10 days and hopes to add the coffee brown to its lineup by the end of May.
"GoodBean coffee is not drum roast, it's air roast, so it's nice and smooth so it will go well with brew we sampled," Mills said. "Brown ale doesn't have that dark, black color and doesn't have the acidic malts. Because it's smoother, I think coffee works well with that style."
While it typically takes two weeks to brew a beer batch, this process will take an extra week.
"We'll taste it every day while it's in the bright tank, until it's ready," Mill said.
GoodBean currently closes its Medford location at 6 p.m., but Kell anticipates extending business hours substantially when beer and wine service begins this summer.
"Being right next to RoxyAnn Winery lends itself nicely to a beer and wine combination and we can complement one another," said Kell, who is also considering the possibilities at GoodBean's Jacksonville location.
"You never know what's going to happen from a handshake," Kell said. "I think it's a natural. When you think about how many years, blood, sweat and resources go into building your brand, when you develop something you should use it and this is good year for both of us to start doing something with it."