Every year, Stoutzilla arises from their slumber to wreak havoc on Brighton seafront, grasping the i360 in their monstrous claws while shooting red-hot fire out at the Brighton Wheel. Last year, while fans of UnBarred hastily reached for the namesake beer that they left in the trail of destruction, we were hot on the trails of a new Titan in town. Amidst the chaos, King Conka broke their shackles and lumbered in to get a piece of the action by taking on Brighton Pier. Surrounded by helicopters desperately trying to cause a distraction, the King caused waves with their own titanic stout, and we were lucky enough to get our hands on some.
Painstakingly recreated to the note, we’re ready to crown our own King and see how they match up to Stoutzilla…Or something like that… Maybe it didn’t quite happen as we remember, but what we do know is our tribute beer is as big and bad as you’d expect. A 10% Imperial Coconut & Tonka Bean Stout, the King is taking you in a different direction, but with everything the world has come to love about their rival.
Cast your minds back to November 2022 and you’ll remember our latest drop of our long awaited yearly release, fresh off the heels of its inclusion into the 250 Greatest Beers of the World. A collaborative book written by a plethora of the world’s best beer writers, Emma Inch was keen to include Stoutzilla in amongst some of the very best after years of UnBarred’s Head Brewer and Founder, Jordan, perfecting the recipe and story. It’s become a cult classic, selling out year after year (so quickly in 2021 that we worked our socks off to produce twice as much, that has again sold out!) and becoming a date in everyone's diary. Last year we went big, with playing cards, meat sticks and a hot sauce, all launching alongside the Barrel Aged version. We even had our first online event, co-hosted by Emma, with several guests including Paul Jackson, creator of the original artwork that depicts the demise of Brighton in the Titans hands. For those that tuned in you may remember Paul and Jordan, whilst reminiscing about how Stoutzilla came to be, talking about a new Titan coming to town. Paul had been in Brighton for our birthday beer trail last year and, after a few beers, the concept of the King come up, smashing up Brighton on the very same day. That day the King was born, and today, we crown them!
King Conka is brewed very much with Stoutzilla in mind. It has all the luxurious components of the beer we all love, but with two key ingredients that we’ve not had a chance to work with that much - coconut and tonka beans. A huge stout base, made up of a rich and decadent double mash, is cold conditioned on 100kg of desiccated coconut, with a fresh tincture of tonka beans carefully blended in until the ultimate balance is achieved. A process that involves the whole team, different amounts and strengths of the ingredients are played with until the most incredible flavours and balance blend effortlessly to create the ultimate stout.
For those UnBarred fans who love a pint of cask, you’ll have already had a small taste of King Conka. Using the same parti-gyle technique utilised when brewing Stoutzilla last year to make Old Ale, we used the spent grains from brewing King Conka to create Dark Mild, a very sessionable but flavoursome beer that at 3.9% drank far too easily! You all loved that, so we’re pretty darn confident you’ll enjoy the King.
We even went a step further by teaming up with Audrey from Terre de Sienne, an artisanal chocolatier based in Worthing, to create a King Conka inspired chocolate bar. Since the beginning of Terre de Sienne Audrey has always been on the lookout for new collaborations, with a focus this year on food and drink businesses, trying to bring their flavours in to her chocolate. ‘I usually specialise in plain, cacao origin focused, bars; the collaborations allow me to have more fun with ingredients and ideas’ Audrey says. ‘When Brett (UnBarred Breweries Marketing guru!) got in touch with me about a potential collaboration with UnBarred I was very excited (I am a big fan of UnBarred and craft beers in general), especially when I saw the flavours to use: Coconut and Tonka. Tonka beans are one of my favourite ingredients. During my years as a pastry chef, I would use them where I would usually use bitter almonds, infused in custard, ice cream, with cherries, pears… They are very versatile.’
We asked Audrey to explain how she used these ingredients, inspired by the King, in the chocolate bars. ‘For this collaboration I decided to grate it on top of the bars and incorporated the coconut to my bean to bar process. To make chocolate I source raw single origin cacao beans which I sort, roast, crack and winnow myself. From this we have cacao nibs and cacao husk, a by-product. The nibs are then ground in a stone grinder, this will reduce the particle sizes and release the cacao fat (cacao butter), the friction will create heat and with the help of a heat gun we have liquid chocolate. At this stage it's 100% pure chocolate, I will then add cacao butter, cane sugar and milk powder for milk chocolates. For this chocolate I chose to replace the milk powder with coconut milk powder and some of the cane sugar with coconut sugar.’ We managed to get our hands on some of these chocolate bars, which will be on sale both on their own and in the Titan bundle, and we even hid a very special gold ticket in one. Find the gold ticket and you win a prize!
So, where will you be able to get your hands on this new Titan? King Conka may have arose last year but, as we all know, the coronation takes place with great fanfare on a date in the future. We plucked a date, completely at random with no outside influence at all, and got busy making plans for the Coronation. Fancy celebrating with us? With the main event taking place at both Fuggles Beer Cafe locations in Tunbridge & Tunbridge Wells on May 5th, and another at our own Taproom of course, you’ll be able to celebrate the crowning of the King with beer in keg and cans, and some of that gorgeous chocolate of course, and drink to a rival. What else will you be doing that weekend?!