How to Make French Press Coffee

Coffee coffee coffee. Until someone figures out a practical way to get that IV-ed through our system 24/7, ya still gotta make it yourself (unless you get it delivered, heyo). Instead of pouring those quality beans into a grimy coffeemaker that’s probably never been cleaned (you know it’s true…), retire Mr. Coffee and upgrade to a better cup of joe at home with a French press.

Sounds great, but how do you actually make a good cup of coffee with this weird little contraption? This has been an ongoing office debate, so our coffee guru, Spencer, is setting the record straight and sharing a no-brainer guide on how to actually brew coffee with a French press. You’re welcome.  

Coffee. For some it’s an occasional treat, for others it’s a very real necessity. Whichever camp you fall in, these fundamental truths will always apply: 

  1. There’s never such a thing as too much coffee.
  2. As Ewan McGregor’s character in Black Hawk Down says, “It’s all in the grind, Sizemore. Can’t be too fine, can’t be too coarse.”
  3. There’s a golden ratio for coffee brewing. 1 part coffee to 16 parts water. 

Got it? 👍🏼

The Grind

Knowing what grind to use for your coffee brew of choice is very(!) important – it’s one of two ways to alter the extraction of flavor correctly, and is the most important of the two factors varying from brew method to brew method. If you’ve ever made coffee with a French Press and thought the flavor was completely off, the grind would be your first suspect. Over extraction = bitter coffee.

For a French Press, you want your coffee to be ground quite a bit coarser than you would for a regular drip, like so:

The Coffee

The other important factor? The actual amount of coffee. A good starting point is approximately 2 tablespoons per 8oz serving.

1. Once you’ve measured out the correct amount of ground coffee, place it in the base of your French Press and begin to heat the water. You‘re looking for approximately 200° degree water – so the point just before it starts to boil.

2. Pour the water gently over the ground coffee, and stir slightly for about 4.5 minutes. For each additional 8oz serving, add an extra 30 seconds of stirring. 

3. Next, place the lid of the French Press on, but don’t plunge down yet – this will be the last step.

4. At 4.5 minutes, plunge the screen of the French Press down slowly, and voila – you’ve got coffee! 

That was easy, right? Now that you’re a French Press aficionado…grab your press, grind up some fresh beans, and keep that caffeine flowing! 

The Beer Drop: Band of Bohemia Guava Pink Peppercorn Rye

Does the food enhance the beer, or does the beer enhance the food? I’m admittedly no certified cicerone, just a lowly beer lover, but upon my visit to Band of Bohemia a couple weeks ago, I found myself asking this age-old question repeatedly.

Band of Bohemia is unlike any brewery I’ve ever been to. A member of the Ravenswood Community’s newly dubbed Malt Row, this place is just as much high caliber restaurant as it is brewery. As a matter of fact, Band of Bohemia was awarded a Michelin Star last year, the first U.S. brew pub to receive this prestigious accolade, EVER! That’s a pretty huge deal in the industry, and I was psyched to have an opportunity to check it out, plus feature them in this week’s Beer Drop!

I could go on and on about my experience, but I’ll let the brains of the Band of Bohemia operation, Michael Carroll, take it from here:

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The Beer Drop: Miskatonic Epilogue

This week we’re heading out to the burbs – Darien, Illinois to be exact, a.k.a the hometown of my grandmother (hey Grame!) to hang with the good people of Miskatonic Brewing Company. You’ve probably seen their Wise Fool IPA and Catchpenny around the Chicagoland area, but we managed to get our hands on some of their first can release of Epilogue from their Chapter IPA Series for this week’s Beer Drop feature!

This IIPA packs a punch at 8.5% but is so smooth and drinkable, you’ll hardly notice. This one’s particularly limited, so act quickly, people!

Read on for my interview with Josh Mowry, bossman over at Miskatonic, where we cover Epilogue, the meaning behind the name, and more!

Tell us more about Epilogue!

Epilogue is an IIPA that celebrates our favorite parts of the style while softening anything that might make it less drinkable, such as an alcohol bite or a palate-wrecking level of bitterness. The mango and papaya notes from the hopping jumps around well with the light malty start that dries out for the summer months where people will be enjoying it.

Hit us with the tasting notes: 

Light malt bill with tones of caramel before falling away, finishing with a tropical fruit-like hop aroma that dries out spritzy and refreshing at the end with tempered bitterness for balance.

Best served?

On the chilly side would be best, as the flavors are all intense enough they don’t need to warm up to express themselves. I’d use a glass that lets you get a big whiff with each sip (such as a tulip glass), and you can’t go wrong with letting Epilogue cut through some summer tacos or fajitas while complimenting a salsa with a little fruit in it.

On Miskatonic

Before we jump into the brewery, what was your path to getting into craft beer?

I’ve always loved cooking and hospitality, with a streak of chemistry. This scratches all those itches. Before beer, I was a Paralegal debating getting my law degree – I became a home brewer at first and then married into a family with multiple professional brewers. Once I realized they’ll pay you 9 to 5 for brewing it was all over.

So how did Miskatonic Brewing Company first come to be?

We began thinking about who we would be as a brewery seven years ago, but opened our doors almost exactly two years ago in 2015. We began canning last year in 2016 right around our 1 year anniversary.

Where does the name come from? 

Miskatonic is a fictional place out of the stories by a long-dead author named H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft is an author that has faded almost completely from the public, but is held near and dear by an insane amount of authors even almost 100 years after his death. It’s his influence on others that was so important, not so much his direct work. We think that holds true for all crafts, including brewing. So much of what we do at Miskatonic was formative from others that came before us, and we wanted to give a nod to the role of influence with our name.

What’s the story behind your branding and beer names?

Lovecraft liked to write about things that seemed normal, until it got very, very weird. We think craft’s a lot like that as well, and wanted our logo to do the same thing. Our Victorian lady (we call her Cecilia) starts off normal, but by the time your eyes take in the whole silhouette, everything gets weird.

Most of our beer names are name for archetypes of characters you find in all kinds of stories. The Catchpenny is a miserly figure, like an Ebenezer Scrooge, and Shield Maiden is a strong female character, one of our favorites in stories. We try and match the names to the personalities of the styles we’re attempting to emulate.

What’s your favorite thing about Miskatonic? What makes it special?

All we’ve ever wanted to do at Miskatonic is to reach out to people with our beer and connect over the love of craft, and the hospitality that comes with it. I love looking out at our taproom and seeing us have some small part of people’s day, whether it be social or introspective. At the same time, we want to pay homage to really classic styles with tight, clean representations of these long-held types of beers. Everyone once in awhile we’ll brew a wilder offering that’s more original, like our Gardener Belgian Wit with Lavender, Vanilla and Lemon peel, but at the end of the day, we just care that the beer is clean and that it gets love from folks.

We love that – where can folks come see you guys?

Darien, IL, a suburb southwest of Chicago. We use our taproom to hold local groups and organizations often, as we see the role of the taproom as a sort of public house to be a part of the community.

Where do you see Miskatonic going from here?

Slowly and quietly growing into a tried and true standby in the Chicagoland market, perhaps the midwest in general eventually. And to keep our family at the brewery tight and happy.

Hot Hop Takes

Favorite craft beer festival:

Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, WI is our favorite to go to as patrons. Tons of brewers just slinging their best, and the atmosphere is more to share with each other and the fervent lovers of craft in general rather than any type of marketing. Also, the whole city of Madison seems to hold great industry events all weekend. It’s a unique festival for sure.

Biggest beer pet peeve:

Festival goers who have no interest in even knowing the name or style of the beer they’re about to pound, just the ABV.

Favorite brewery other than your own:

Allagash Brewing in Maine. Quiet, refined, and thoughtful, they regularly crank out amazing beers, and often they’re not full of buzzwords. Process seems to be held as sacred as ingredients there, and that’s awesome.

Brewery you see as a measuring stick for what you’re trying to do:

Half Acre. They are fairly no-bullshit, friendly, and just want to make great beer people like to drink.

Beer trend that’ll be laughable five years from now:

NEIPAs. No hate on them existing, but this blinders issue with only seeking them out, and not appreciating multiple styles, is insane. It’s like the people who douse all their food in hot sauce.

The next big beer trend:

Milkshake IPAs (God help us)

Thanks for chatting with us, Josh – we can’t wait to see where Miskatonic goes from here! For a pint with a view, be sure to swing by Miskatonic’s Darien taproom the next time you’re in the southwest ‘burbs – you can find them at 1000 N Frontage Rd.

801 check-ins and counting – keep tabs on what Sean’s been drinking here. Spoiler alert, he’s been busy hunting down future Beer Drops…

The Beer Drop: Pipeworks Fairy Basslet

It’s admittedly taken some time for us to get our hands on some of the delicious offerings from Pipeworks Brewing Co. That said, as I’ve learned through the process of buying beer, persistence (and sometimes sliding into those DMs) pays off. Today, I’m proud to not only feature Fairy Basslet in The Beer Drop, but also roll out the addition of several evergreen cans to the Foxtrot lineup as well.

Pipeworks is blowing up. It’d be tough to find another local brewery who can complete with the exponential growth they’ve experienced in as short a timeframe while still maintaining unrelenting commitment to independence and the craft of their business.

The beers speak for themselves, but I gotta say, I’m loving the Fairy Basslet. This one is textbook PDubs and blends delicious tropical notes with a double IPA hop backbone. To pair with ’em, we’re also rolling out with Glaucus and Ninja vs. Unicorn.

We caught up with brewer and media director, Kate Brankin, for a deeper dive into the beers and more – read on! 

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The Beer Drop: Ska Pink Vapor Stew

Hope everyone got their fill of beer through the long holiday weekend! For this week’s Beer Drop, we’re continuing our funky sour theme with Pink Vapor Stew from Ska Brewing out of Durango, Colorado. This thing is beyond drinkable with a gorgeous red hue, and the perfect feature for the heart of summer.

Ska is known for their evergreen (and also punny) hits like Modus Hoperandi and Mandarina, but are kicking off what they’ve dubbed as Mod Project with Pink Vapor Stew, focusing on the craftier side of the beer biz like sours and barrel aging. If this first feature is any indication of what’s to come, I have a feeling future Mod Project beers are going to be in pretty high demand…you heard it here first!

Without further ado, let’s chat with Ska’s Midwest Strutter, Megan Shank, for the deets on this beer and the Mod Project. Cheers!

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