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Forager puts donuts in beer… and Drift Dough puts beer in donuts

November 16, 2018

In the world of craft beer, adjuncts (added sugar sources) reign supreme in stouts.

Even ones made from donuts.

If putting donuts into beer sounds odd, let Forager head brewer Austin Jevne explain:

“Basically, we’re just trying to extract a little bit of the chocolate essence of that donut,” he said.

Sherpa’s Survival Kit stout, a Forager favorite, already has layers of chocolate flavor in it, so the brewery is adding yet another layer by utilizing Drift Dough’s chocolate cake donut.

Fun collaborations are nothing new for Forager, and Drift Dough owner Nathan Matter was all in.

“We’d kicked around the idea of throwing some doughnuts in Forager stouts since day one,” Matter said. “Seemed like a natural pairing with some of the awesome pastry-inspired stouts that Forager makes.”

Jevne and Matter met years ago, when Matter still owned Courtyard and Cellar in Decorah, Iowa. The Impact Coffee roast used in the donut-infused Sherpa’s is also from Decorah, and the pastry shop sells the joe.

“Impact, having the relationship they do with Drift Dough, just seemed to work perfectly for this beer,” Jevne said.

Sherpa’s Survival Kit itself is an interesting beer. It’s one of my favorite stouts, but it often changes the coffee roasts it uses. For example, Fiddlehead coffee, the shop that previously stood where Drift Dough is now, was recently used in Sherpa’s. In the early days of the beer, the roast came from Kickapoo Coffee Roasters.

The special blend of microlot coffee from Impact gives Sherpa’s its best feature – a piquant coffee flavor. It hasn’t been that coffee-forward since earlier iterations. After you’ve been dazed by that, layers of chocolate, including a hint of donut, swim over your taste buds, in addition to some subtle vanilla.

“It was an easy fit for us to want to do this collaboration,” Jevne said. “(Matter)’s been a huge advocate for our beer basically since we opened.”

Sherpa’s is available on tap and in crowlers, as is the next donut beer, Pudding Goggles (released on Nov. 9 as a set with a crowler, branded glass, and donut made with Pudding Goggles beer, which is similar to the one released at Forager Fest). Pudding Goggles is one of Forager’s most sought-after beers – someone from Los Angeles reached out to me on Instagram last release asking for some in exchange for Monkish Brewery IPAs, which are some of the nation’s best.

The same chocolate cake donut was added to Pudding Goggles, which is already aged on cocoa, vanilla, coconut, and cinnamon.

Forager loves to experiment, so “throwing different things into beer,” is going to be something Jevne and his crew continue to do... like making an Ambrosia salad sour IPA.

If you haven’t had it, Ambrosia is a mélange of marshmallows – which will be made at Forager and thrown into the boil kettle – whipped cream, maraschino cherries, pineapple, coconut, and mandarin oranges. There’s also an incoming black Russian imperial porter made with hazelnuts and coffee. That too might find its way into a donut.

Beer in donuts, donuts in beer. And it only gets more complicated from here. Up next is a donut made with Sherpa’s beer (with the donut adjunct), which will later be put into a new batch of Sherpa’s beer. It’ll all be very Inception-y.

Thank god Forager and Drift Dough aren’t afraid to dream a little bigger.

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