In the beginning, there was Turkish Coffee Stout. I started going to Turkey in 2010 to work for Boston University's Central Lydia Archaeology Survey. Located about 100km east of Izmir on the Mediterranean Coast. We conducted extensive surveys of a large agricultural area outside of Tekelioglu. It was, and still is I imagine, a beautiful area of the world for anyone mildly interested in world history. Throughout antiquity anyone who wanted to travel to and from Europe and Asia passed through the region. Every day saw potsherds from the mid to late Bronze Age through the modern Islamic Period, a range of nearly 3500 years.
The Temple of Artemis at Sardis
We toiled under the shadow of one of the many mountains on which Zeus was fabled to have been born. In the evenings, we relaxed on a small patio at the farmhouse where we stayed, looking over Lake Marmara to the east and the great Lydian tumuli to the west; some as big as Egyptian pyramids. On those evenings, we drank Efes, named for Ephesus, home to one of the ancient wonders of the world, the Temple of Artemis. There was however, nothing wonderful about the beer. In retrospect, it seems obvious that a predominantly Muslim country, where drinking is prohibited for religious reasons, would have terrible beer. But I was young and dumb and in an exotic land, and I wanted good beer.
I had recently been introduced to good beer in Philadelphia. Yuengling lager gave way to New Belgium's Fat Tire, which led to Boulevard's Tank 7. That beer introduced me to Eulogy, an incredible Belgian beer house on South Street in Philly. Turkey had no such beer houses however, and so it was Efes.
The wee hours of the mornings or after dinner as a digestif, Turkish coffee would be available, and this was delicious. Some of my fondest memories are from that first trip to Turkey and I brought them with me when I started homebrewing.
When you're in graduate school, really the only social activity involves drinking. By the time your work is finished, your brain is so fried and the hour so late, that all you want is a beer, which is good, since bars are the only thing open. We started homebrewing as a distraction, as a way to save money, and not do homework for a while. When we graduated from doing store-bought kits to all-grain, and eventually to brewing our own recipes, the Turkish Coffee was one of the first beers I 'developed.' It went through many iterations and continues to change as I now focus on brewing it commercially.
Turkish Coffe with Cezve, cups, and spices.
At its most basic level, Turkish Coffee, identifies the grind, a very fine, powdery consistency. Turkey also grows fantastic coffee. It is rich and earthy, like the fine clay of the soils there. It blends well with the dry chocolate, roast, and subtle fruit flavors of the Foreign Export Stout.
Turkish coffee is boiled together with the grounds in a copper pot called a cezve. When ready, the entire thing is poured into the cup. The drinker lets the boiling liquid cool to drinking temperature, which also gives time for the grounds to settle to the bottom. In parts of the Middle East, cardamom is added to the boil for a more intense, spicy flavor. The orange came from the need to sweeten the brew. While Turks often drink the coffee straight, many prefer differing amounts of sugar. The sweet orange peel in conjunction with dehusked black malt was just the ticket to get that residual sweetness and a hint of uniqueness.
I want the beers we brew here at Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project to take the drinker on a journey. For me, the Turkish Coffee Stout is that quintessential beer. In many ways, it inspired the whole ethos of Intrepid Sojourner. It's dark and full of coffee, but sweet and easy drinking. I find it impossible to drink it without reminiscing about those Turkish summers, and planning future travels. Turkey was the first and primary place I practiced archaeology, the beer was the first I brewed as I made the transition to a more serious brewer, and it was one of the first beers we brewed on site here. The Turkish Coffee Stout is the embodiment of what we're trying to accomplish at Intrepid Sojourner.