A cereal brew for a lost palate
It’s not every day you hear about someone eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal with mangos, honey, oats and milk.
Or, even more unique, drinking some of those things in a beer.
But for Jonny Coffman, 34, of Chicago, Illinois, that unique concoction was his go-to meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner for nearly five months.
You see, he’s been battling melanoma – a form of cancer – since 2015. And last year before a 30-day treatment of radiation, his doctors warned that’d he’d likely lose his sense of taste for a period of time.
As the doctors predicted, Coffman did lose his palate. Everything from steak to tacos had no taste to him.
“Everything tasted like cement,” Coffman told us, as he described the surprisingly devastating loss of his sense of taste. “So, I kept doing trial and error stuff. I would make weird concoctions of different ingredients and see if I could taste anything – different textures, sweet, savory, all of that – and one morning I just looked to see what I had…”
He combined Cinnamon Toast Crunch, steal cut oats, honey, mangoes and milk. And when he took his first bite, he could taste everything.
“It was a pretty amazing morning for me. And I started eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch with mangoes three times a day, every day for months,” he explains about the taste bud-altering event.
After about five months Coffman’s full sense of taste returned.
“I thought when my palate came back that I was going to hate these things. I thought I’m never going to want to eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch again – I’m never going to want to eat mangoes because I’m just overloading on it every day. And it’s crazy. It’s still my favorite cereal,” Coffman says.
While Cinnamon Toast Crunch may be his favorite cereal, his favorite brand of beer is Goose Island. He actually works at the brewery as a brand ambassador.
And one day Coffman’s twin brother, Ben, jokingly said that he should make a beer that tastes like the flavor combination that brought his lost palate back to life.
A couple months later, Coffman brought the idea to some of his Goose Island colleagues, fully anticipating the idea would get shot down.
But much to his surprise they said ‘Yes.’
Goose Island President Todd Ahsmann, brewmaster Jared Jankoski and brewer Quinn Fuechsl helped Coffman bring the beer to life.
He talks about the approval process and how thinking “inside the box” turned out to be pretty tasty, in this audio clip.
Appropriately named “Lost Palate,” the recipe for the New England-style IPA included flaked oats, honey malt, lactose sugar, mangoes, three family-size boxes of Cinnamon Toasted Crunch and hops.
“It was better than I expected, way better,” Coffman says. “I give it a 10 out of 10.”
The pilot brew made about nine kegs worth of beer, which sold out at Goose Island in two days.
And all of the proceeds – about $1,200 – was donated to the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University to support cancer research.
Coffman says it felt good to give back to the hospital in honor of his doctors and other patients battling cancer.
And he says he hopes he’ll be able to make another batch of Lost Palate in the future.
“Catching a buzz off of a beer feels great. But catching a buzz from a beer that you know you gave back with is the best kind of feeling you can get.”
Photos courtesy of Jonny’s twin brother Ben Coffman.
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