What are the best things in the world? Love and family? Maybe. Or possibly coffee and beer. The Up and Down Tour is a day of education and celebration of craft coffee and beer. As the name suggests, you start with coffee, the up.
Located at the trendy Casa Brasil in South Austin, this is a morning learning session I was really excited about. There were about ten of us in the class and we nibbled on pastries from Foreign & Domestic and drank black coffee before the session began. I’m not normally a black coffee drinker and asked for a little milk. But this is an environment of serious coffee drinking and they don’t stock any bastardizations. So I sipped my black coffee and realized it was one of the best cups I’d ever had. Zero bitterness. I drank TWO black cups. Welcome to adulthood, me.
Once we got started we learned about the history and geography of coffee. Owner and teacher Joel Shuler passionately talked about the growing and harvesting process, describing the various methods of obtaining the beans. We were able to see beans in various stages and what to look for when ruling out subpar beans.
Then we did a cupping and compared flavors, different roasts, and the dreaded robusta beans. (It’s arabica that you want to be drinking.) Next, Joel showed us how to roast beans and as they got darker and darker, the aroma intensified and the beans grew larger. I loved everything about the process.
After seeing how Casa Brasil hand paints every coffee bag (!) we experienced and tasted different brewing methods. I was especially interested in this because if there’s a better way to make my coffee at home I want to know. The Betty’s are experienced cold brewers and French pressers, but we loved watching the vacuum method and the Chemex. It was interesting tasting the resulting coffees side by side. We all preferred different methods, which goes to show you there’s not one perfect way.
A little test at the end put a coffee in front of each of us and we were to determine what it was. Sadly, I got the robusta. Yuck!
We were all buzzing along nicely when it was time to eat lunch. Fresh sandwiches hand-delivered by The Noble Pig. Mr. Betty finally had a chance to try their famous seared beef tongue sandwich.
After lunch we walked next door to South Austin Brewing. I think as much as we were enjoying our caffeine buzzes, it was time to get a beer buzz.
Owner and brewmaster Jordan Weeks was as passionate and thorough about beer as Joel was about coffee. We learned about the yeasts and grains, toured through the warehouse holding the giant vats of beer in various stages, and of course, tasted away.
They currently have two delicious beers, Belgian Style Golden Ale and Saison D’Austin. Like all beers, they taste different out of a bottle versus a keg, so we tried both. And we tried lots of tasty treats from Jordan’s private stash.
Chris Oglesby kept us on track and kept our glasses full. These guys were so cool and incredibly knowledgeable.
I learned more about coffee and beer in one day than in all the rest of my years combined. It was so enjoyable spending the day with passionate craftsmen who are doing what they love. I can’t recommend this tour enough. I was impressed by the amount of preparation and care that went into every detail of this tour, from the materials to the schedule. In addition to the first-rate knowledge and all the coffee and beer you want, you get a couple gourmet meals and walk out with a beer glass, tee-shirt, and coffee beans.
The Up and Down Tour is offered once a month. It’s simply a must-do for all local foodies. Reserve your spot here.