Did your Grandparent used to say ‘Waste not, want not…’. and you never really knew what it meant, but the stern look on their face and hands on hips suggested you had to finish your dinner pronto? A few of us here at UnBarred remember this exact experience, too young to understand the implications of not eating our crusts beyond what she might do should we ignore her! ‘Being embarrassingly honest, it probably wasn’t until my late 20’s that I really fully understood it.’ Matt says, Marketing & Sales Ambassador at UnBarred. ‘I used the phrase and knew that, broadly, it meant to not be wasteful, but the TRUE meaning of using everything to its full extent came with experience.’
And that is exactly where this beer started life. Summer White Stout is the absolute embodiment of that ethos. A three way collaboration with Back Yard Coffee, Terre de Sienne chocolatier and Gold Mountain Coffee Growers, we’ve incorporated by-products of their individual processes and harnessed the power of ingredients that would have otherwise gone to waste, to create the ultimate white stout. A refreshing, pale 5.2% beer with notes of *takes a deep breath* coffee, chocolate, raisin, peach, apricot, light citrus, vanilla, honey, roasted malts and tobacco. It’s a flavour journey, whilst being incredibly well balanced and impressively refreshing. But how did we do it?
We’ve wanted to brew another white stout for a while now. It’s something we’re very well known for, having brewed the highest rated EVER in England, according to Untappd. We’re pretty proud of that, and we absolutely love brewing the style. It represents a huge challenge, something the brewers are well up for. This time though we took on a slightly different challenge. The brief was to create a light beer, complex in flavour with roasted notes and a hint of sweetness, refreshing enough for the summer, but with a nod to sustainability.
So who are these three collaborators and why did we choose to team up with them? Let’s start with Terre de Sienne. You might recognise the name from our launch of King Conka. Audrey is the owner and proprietor and makes some incredible small batch, artisanal chocolate that is as delicious as it is inspired. When Jordan, Head Brewer & Founder of UnBarred, was there last and taking his hands to some chocolate making, a tonka and coconut bar inspired by the flavours of King Conka, he noticed a pretty incredible ingredient, a by-product of the process, that had amazing potential. Ever inquisitive, he asked Audrey why it was a by-product and what did she use it for. ‘After roasting the cacao beans, I crack them with a modified juicer. At this stage the cacao nibs are mixed with their husk. To separate the two I pass them into an air flow system which will suck the husk into a bucket and let the nibs fall through’ Audrey explains. With most producers the husks are discarded, but Audrey always tries to find an alternative use. ‘The husk can be steeped in hot or cold water to make a cacao tea. It has the aroma of chocolate without the heaviness of a hot chocolate.’ It got us to thinking that, by steeping these husks and making a tea that can be blended into a beer, it would impart huge flavour whilst keeping the final product light and refreshing. The resulting tea harnessed incredible depth of flavour with notes of rich chocolate, wafer and roasty honey notes and gave the beer a whole other dimension of aroma and texture.
Back Yard Coffee are a local, independent coffee roaster based right on our doorstep in Sussex. Family run, with an interest in sustainability, they already use fully recyclable packaging and a hybrid roaster that regenerates its own heat source. When we spoke to them about the project it was an immediate and resounding yes! They very quickly supplied an ingredient called ‘chaff’ for this beer. ‘Chaff, or ‘silver skin’ is a by-product of roasting coffee. It’s the dried skin on a coffee bean that comes off during the roasting process.’ explains Elliott from Back Yard. ‘Honestly it’s a bit of a pain for roasters, it makes the roasting equipment dusty and dirty. We produce large volumes of the by-product and don’t want it to go to landfill. We have so far had a multitude of products made with chaff. Espresso Martini sugar syrup, ice cream, sriracha, furniture and many compost heaps, we even tried fire bricks (failed!). But never beer!’ So what does it add to the beer? ‘Aroma wise, chaff offers toast and marmalade notes and ‘in the tissue’ it’s got more of a rum, raisin character with a hint of citrus’. Used in the mash of the base beer to compliment the malt flavour, the chaff has offered notes that you’d expect to find in a white stout but has built them in layers. Waves of marmalade, roast and raisin appear with each sip and balance the beer out beautifully.
Gold Mountain Coffee Growers brought their Pacamara coffee cherries to the table for this beer, grown on their very own Finca Idealist coffee plantation in Nicaragua. To talk about this ingredient, we must first understand what coffee actually is. A coffee bean is a pip inside of a fruit, the coffee cherry, of the coffee plant. The beans are separated from the fruit and then roasted to make coffee, but what happens to the fruit? Unfortunately, it is mostly discarded as a by-product of the process with around 20 billion kg of them sent to landfill each year. However, there are some that are trying to find more uses for it - after all, it is a fruit that has a juicy, sweet flesh and does itself possess incredible flavour. And that’s exactly what we’ve used it for in this beer. Sweet, berry and cherry notes with acidity and a noticeable caffeine aroma. We’ve used the ingredient before in a white stout so we knew what we were working with and what it would bring to the table and were excited to be using the ingredients again. Bringing acidity to the beer to elevate the fruit notes and round off sweetness, you’ll get flashes of subtle berry and cherry to offer up intriguing sweet and sour notes throughout the beer.
If you are lucky enough to have a can with you right now, or maybe you’re reading this in our Taproom or many of the incredible pubs and bars that are pouring the beer, take a moment to appreciate all those ingredients and flavours, but also take a moment to appreciate what by-products can offer a recipe. Cold Press Summer Stout is a real labour of love. It’s an example of balance, creating bold yet refreshing flavours, and affecting positive change at the same time.
Remember; waste not, want not.