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Coffee Beer Magic Time: A Conversation with Maplewood Brewery and Distillery

“You’ve gotta follow your own path.’”

Adam Smith, Brand Manager at Maplewood Brewery and Distillery

Listen, we love beverages. Even recognizing that this statement can sound either bland or psychotic, we stand by it. Truly, we love ‘em.  There is something a little thrilling to us in tasting new flavors and in sampling some of our old favorites. For us over at Metric, Maplewood Brewing and Distillery represents the best in both novel and traditional beverages. Specifically, beer and liquor. As Uppers & Downers inches closer (February 25! Get tickets in advance!), we are excited to highlight and discuss our collaboration with Maplewood via two very unique coffee-beers that will be featured in the event: the Guatemalan Bam Bam, and the Apocalypse Meow Meow.


The coffee-beer movement is a relatively new one. One of the reasons we are happy to be partnered with Maplewood is because they are just as keen to innovate, explore, and discover new ways to express the idea of coffee-beer. Brewed with Chinook, Cascade, and Mosaic hops, the Guatemalan Bam Bam balances ideals of lighter roast coffee in a lighter beer.

“With the Bam Bam, the idea for us was to do something unexpected, and to really bring out a different side of the coffee,” says Adam. “We wanted something lighter. Something that would really bring the coffee out, but you would still have aspects of the base beer. The red ale does have that light roast, and you do get the fruitiness of the hops in there. It’s such a perfect marriage. It all comes together as one, really nice beer.”

 

The other beer is the Apocalypse Meow Meow—a name that obliquely echoes the Bam Bam and alludes to a movie most people have heard of, but mostly means nothing at all. For this brew, a golden ale will be processed with oats and lactose sugars, Metric’s Natural Ethiopian beans, and fresh raspberries. This full-bodied light ale will actually sit on the fruit in order to extract the bright and delicious juices, with the coffee providing aromatics and mild floral, sweet flavors. This small batch won’t be around very long, but will be a must-taste during the second session of Uppers & Downers.

Maplewood Brewery and Distillery, at just two years in and with a grand total of four employees (including the two owners), is already finding more-than-solid footing in Chicago’s beer scene. They are located at 2717 N. Maplewood in Logan Square, and have been making their way onto menus and into stores across the city. One of their beers, the American Pale Ale titled “Charlatan” has been selling faster than it can be brewed. And while many brewers would stop there, it’s clear that folks over at Maplewood have no intention of limiting their ambition.

“We’re humbled and happy,” says Adam, before launching into the plans taproom, which will be opening in the very near future. “We want to be open all the time. People can come in on their laptop and just chill. We’ll have coffee, we’ll have beer, we’ll have booze, and some mixed drinks.” Food trucks, late nights, tours, tastings, and more are on the docket as well.

Coffee, beer, and coffee-beer are ever-changing concepts. Pushing forward isn’t always easy, but when driven by passion, it can at least be fun. It’s the difference between saying “I don’t know,” and “Let’s find out.” The folks over at Maplewood focus on the possible. Their sense of adventure is wholly intact, and their sense of quality is relentlessly in tune. The best part about doing what you love is that you get to truly forge your own path in the world—and that’s an ideal that seems to unite Metric and Maplewood outside of coffee and beer. Keep an ear out for Maplewood’s taproom opening, and pick up a brew the moment you get the chance. In the meantime, bottoms up, cheers, skål, cin cin and meow meow. We’ll see you at Uppers & Downers, and anywhere in between.