Two local businesses have partnered to produce a world’s first beverage that marries an unlikely pair – coffee and beer.

Two local businesses have partnered to produce a world’s first beverage that marries an unlikely pair – coffee and beer.

The Point Coffee House in Rehoboth Beach and 16 Mile Brewery in Georgetown recently rolled out hops-infused coffee, a definite first for the coffee and beer industry.

“This coffee combines two major movements in this country – coffee and beer drinking,” said Claus Hagelman of 16 Mile. “It’s also another thing for Delaware to hang its hat on, with the state already known for its craft beer industry.”

The concoction has been in the works for more than a year, since Hagelman first approached Sean Hixon, roaster at The Point, with the idea.

“When Claus told me he wanted to do a beer-flavored coffee, I told him it was a horrible idea,” Hixon said. “He gave me a 12-pack and told me to try a little harder, which kind of ticked me off but inspired me at the same time.”

Hixon said there are various coffee-flavored beers on the market; but no one has successfully produced a beer-flavored coffee that is actually palatable, until now. As it turns out, he said, yeast is the enemy.

“If you dissect 16 Mile’s beers, the main ingredients are water, yeast, hops and malts,” he said. “Remove the yeast and all those other components are coffee-friendly. Coffee is naturally malty, as is beer. Coffee is also naturally dark and chocolatey, as are a lot of beers.”

To create the new coffee, Hixon dissected 16 Mile’s award-winning Tiller Brown Ale. The beer contains bravo hops, which produce a bold, herbal and citrus quality with a little tropical fruit tone. Hixon combined the bravo hops with an organic coffee bean from Tanzania that has those same qualities.

“These two inherent flavors are pretty comparable,” he said. “Rather than adding a new flavor, this combination is fortifying what’s already there.”

But it wasn’t that easy. Hixon strived to actually infuse the beer flavor into the coffee beans, which requires a lot of trial and error.

Although he would not divulge too many details, Hixon did say the coffee beans are aged for four months in a “strong hop environment. It’s not a wine barrel or a hop barrel; but a similar process. I don’t want to give away my proprietary recipes and techniques but, after the beans are aged, it gets pretty elaborate. There’s a lot of chemistry involved.”

To roast the beans, Hixon uses The Point’s Probat L12, a rare gas-fired coffee roaster. Hixon said there are over 10,000 chemical reactions that occur in the machine during a roast.

Because the beer is deconstructed, there’s no alcohol in the coffee.

Hixon’s initial batch of hops-infused coffee yielded 66 pounds of beans, or 122 eight-ounce bags. He said another batch would be ready in about 48 days.

“Judging from the success we’ve seen so far, we’re going to make this coffee regularly,” Hixon said. “I’ve been shipping it all over the nation and I’ve been getting great feedback.”

The coffee is available at The Point and at 16 Mile for $15 per bag. It will soon be available at Outlet Liquors on Del. Route 1 in Rehoboth Beach and Hixon hopes more local stores will hop aboard soon.

Hagelman said this partnership is one of many the brewery has formulated with local manufacturers of food and homemade products. For example, the brewery has partnered with Chapel’s Country Creamery in Easton, Md. to create an English farmhouse cheddar cheese that’s soaked for 90 days in 16 Mile’s Amber Sun Ale. The brewery has also partnered with King’s Ice Cream in Milton to produce malted ice creams.

“We started doing this to see if we could start playing with beer outside of the bottle,” Hagelman said. “We partner with people we like and respect and lend them our name and reputation. In turn, their name and reputation is tied to us.”