Many Royal Farms outposts in and around greater Baltimore don’t sell beer on the premises. That didn’t stop Royal Farms from partnering with Key Brewing Company, one of the region’s widest-known breweries, on Cold Rolled Breakfast Stout, a new limited-edition dark beer that hits the market Thursday.
Jef Walker, Key’s design and marketing director, said the idea started among the Dundalk brewery’s staffers. They wanted to make another coffee stout with a local vendor, having successfully collaborated with Easton-based Rise Up Coffee last year.
“Somebody said, ‘What about Royal Farms?’” Walker said. “We had a contact over there, we reached out and they were all on board.”
The construction of a Royal Farms in Dundalk near the entrance to Grays Rd., which visitors must drive down to reach Key’s taproom, also made the collaboration a great fit, Walker said.
“We really thought it was a long shot that they would agree to it, but we’re real happy that they did,” added Key’s operations manager and co-owner Mike McDonald.
Royal Farms representatives did not immediately return requests for comment.
Walker said that Key brewed this beer with 40 pounds of “super strong” 100% Colombian whole coffee beans from Royal Farms. They ground the coffee at Key, which differs from prior coffee stouts that start with coffee grounds. They also incorporated caramel malts and rolled oats into the brewing process. McDonald noted that the drink is cold-brewed, which means that the coffee wasn’t heated and lacks bitterness, thus making for a smoother drink.
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While this beer’s main non-alcoholic ingredient might stir images of Baltimore Ravens placekicker Justin Tucker fending off zombies with coffee in a recent Royal Farms commercial, Walker noted that the caffeine effect isn’t nearly as strong as actual Rofo coffee.
The name “cold rolled” refers both to the oats and, according to brewer Victor Rini, the process of cold-rolling steel. This evokes Key and Dundalk’s connection to the history of Bethlehem Steel Company: Key’s brewing facility and taproom are housed in a former storage building for the onetime steel giant.
Cold Rolled Breakfast Stout is 5.5 percent alcohol by volume, which makes it less alcoholic than many coffee stouts and fits within Key’s general focus on lower-ABV beers.
“It’s something for breakfast, for anytime, but you don’t want to start off with a 10 percenter in the morning,” said Rini. “Well, I don’t at least.”
Cold Rolled Breakfast Stout will be available starting Thursday at beer and liquor distributors throughout Key’s regular distribution network in greater Baltimore, as well as some places in Northern Virginia and Delaware. That means it’ll be stocked at the select few Royal Farms outposts that carry alcohol, although not most.
With 125 barrels planned, the beer will also be available in draft form at bars and restaurants throughout the area over the next few weeks. People can visit keybrewing.com/rofobreakfaststout for more information on where it’s available, as well as stop by Key’s taproom at 2500 Grays Rd. in Dundalk, for both draft and 12-oz. cans.