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Tim Duquenne, November 24, 2021

The story behind "Off The Ground"

Filed under: Brewing Folk / Stories
The story behind

It’s always great to work on a collaborative beer that truly marries up different skillsets and processes. So when the opportunity arose to work on a coffee stout with the wonderful Cornish based Origin Coffee, we jumped at the chance. The idea was very simple: create a flavoursome base stout somewhere in the 6-7% range that has been infused with coffee aromas and flavours. The execution of this idea has proved both challenging and enjoyable. It all started with a visit to Origin HQ…

The Origin Roastery is housed in a new industrial building just outside Porthleven and the level of precise professionalism on view is apparent immediately on arrival. We were given a tour and shown the sensory analysis room, the tasting room, cafe and most importantly, the roastery. The parallels to Verdant HQ are evident everywhere and no more so than in the dedicated team of passionate people creating, selling and distributing a product they love to bits. Watching the roasting machinery swirl the beans around whilst inhaling the intoxicating coffee magic got us psyched for the important bit…Tasting and choosing our coffee for the collaboration!

Charlie had organised 5 different coffees for us to sample via a method called ‘cupping’. In simple terms this is where a certain quantity of freshly ground beans are placed in a glass or cup, a set volume of water is added at a set temperature, it’s stirred and then it’s left to naturally settle and cool down a bit before being slurped loudly via a suitable spoon. This is the exact same method of tasting employed by the coffee farmers, that connection and consistency being very comforting. We tasted both natural and washed coffees, discussed their amazing nuances and differences and thrashed out some ideas as to how best to add these flavours to the beer. In the end, we settled on two different types with both being added to the beer in very different ways.  

San Fermin is a washed coffee from Columbia that we noted as having distinct flavours of orange, caramel and berries alongside some dark chocolate notes.  Origin actually sell this in a variety of formats, one of which being pre-packaged cold brew. We decided to add 120 litres of cold brew San Fermin at the tail end of fermentation.  We viewed this flavour addition as very much playing second fiddle to both the base beer and second coffee addition, the hope being it added a generic 'coffee-ish’ backdrop for the rest of the beer to bounce off. The second addition was by way of 50kg of whole roasted Natural Goru Muda coffee beans from Ethiopia. This coffee is stunningly fruity with heaps of strawberry up front, some mango behind and a beautiful dark chocolate underneath it all.  So unique and fruity.  We opted to add this to the beer via a bespoke 250-litre vessel the day before packaging.  Think of a stainless steel teabag with pipes and a pump coming off it and you have the idea.  We then recirculated the entire beer volume through this vessel and beans for several hours, tasting every half an hour until the coffee character felt ‘just right’, not too much, not too little. Balanced.

Designing the beer recipe was an interesting challenge. With the chosen coffees being so fruity and complex we wanted to add a combination of traditional Stouty roast flavours of charred toast, dark chocolate and coffee with some complex deep raisin, nut and plum woven amongst deep caramels and a hearty bread crust base. Hopping was via the citric centric variety Cascade in the hope of accenting a little zing.  Initial tasting is very promising and we’re very excited to see what the world thinks.

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