In the beer world, a bartender's prowess is arguably determined by his/her mastery of the black and tan, a pale ale topped with a stout or other dark beer. It's harder than it looks -- just ask Eagle Rock Brewery co-owner Ting Su (her husband, Jeremy Raub, and father-in-law, Steve, are the brewers). Su, who is often behind the bar at the brewery's tasting room, recommends investing in the right tool (a turtle) to insure your lager and stout remain on opposite sides of the fence.
But the real problem with black and tans is whether they're even worthy of a sip. Most days, we'd rather simply have a really good beer, even more so if we're at a great brewery. "Honestly we just started making them because customers asked for them," says Su. "We have homebrewers who come in and want to experiment with flavors."
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And so with the help of curious customers (thank you), Eagle Rock has elevated the sipping status of the average black and tan into the "Stimularity," a variation using Stimulus, their seasonal Intelligentsia coffee-infused amber ale, as the base rather than the average, flavorless pale ale. They use Solidarity, their English-style black ale, to top it off. (You can also order a custom black and tan with any of their other beers).
That complex, malty ale with a big hit of Ethiopian coffee pairs incredibly well with the black ale. Either that, or it was the caffeine + 7.75% ABV in the Stimulus that was getting us so excited.
"Intelligentsia brings us the freshly ground beans within 30 minutes after they grind them. It's a pretty amazing, they're always willing to work with us," says Jeremy Raub, adding that another Stimulus-style coffee beer using different beans is in the experimental phase, for those days when the Solidarity taps run dry (very soon, if not as we speak). Sounds like fodder for a really good solidarity-stimulus infused political campaign commercial for once.