Peanut butter and jelly. Chips and salsa. Coffee and … beer? A fresh brew from the minds of two East Bay craft-beverage stalwarts may soon supplant old standbys as your new favorite epicurean combination. The 1966 Coffee IPA, released in February, is the lovechild of Emeryville-based Peet’s Coffee and San Leandro’s 21st Amendment Brewery, which teamed up for the first time to produce this genre-bending beer.
"It was a lovefest: A guy named Shaun [O’Sullivan, 21st Amendment’s brewmaster] and another guy named Shawn [Conway, Peet’s CEO] decided beer was more fun than CEO stuff," says Peet’s roastmaster Doug Welsh, who worked with 21st Amendment to nail the flavor profile of the roasted beans for this beer.
Meant as a celebration of the region’s rich history (and named after the year Peet’s was founded in Berkeley, with images of three roastmasters—including Welsh—hidden on the box), the limited-edition IPA is a gold color and features citrus notes. The beer’s bitterness mixes with the fruity aromas of Peet’s Ethiopian Super Natural coffee—resulting in a departure from the usual dark-beer-and-coffee pairing. "No one wanted to do yet another syrupy stout with dark-roasted malts and dark-roasted coffee," Welsh says.
O’Sullivan concurs. "Both companies put a foot outside their comfort zone," he explains, "which is the fun part of collaborations."
He Said, He Said
In honor of the unusual pairing, Diablo asked Welsh and O’Sullivan the same questions about their 1966 Coffee IPA.
This beer pairs best with …
Doug Welsh: Cheese Board pizza—not only because it’s amazing, but because the Cheese Board Collective was also founded in Berkeley, in ’67.
Shaun O’Sullivan: This beer drinks great by itself, whether IPA is your style or not. It pairs well with grilled burgers, shrimp, and vegetables with a spicy barbecue sauce.
If this beer were a song, it would be …
D.W.: "Summer in the City," by the Lovin’ Spoonful. Not that this city ever gets hot, but it’s always right for a cold beer.
S.O.: The 1966 hit "California Dreamin’," by the Mamas and the Papas, of course.
What’s the biggest difference between 1966 and now for coffee and beer?
D.W.: Everything was not better in the old days. That’s why Mr. Peet virtually had to invent, or reinvent, craft coffee. He started with a quality of coffee ingredients almost no one was using in this country at the time, and he pioneered quality roasting—that is, craft roasting: fresh, by the senses, at the hands, eyes, nose, ears, and taste of a master craftsperson.
S.O.: Beer, as we know it today, looks very different to what was offered back in 1966, where the standard beer was very light, yellow, and not as flavorful. The years have been kind to beer, and what we now enjoy, and the many different styles and flavors that make up today’s craft beer offerings. [The year] 1966 was a time of experimentation with music, thinking, and substances. I think [people in 1966] would have loved and appreciated a beer with unique flavors.