We have always loved Broken Dream, our Core Range Breakfast Stout. We bring together all the ingredients of an American breakfast, binding smoke and coffee aromas with chocolate, milk and oats to create something thick, velvety and slick. Here’s our brewer Sam to give you a bit more info:
It was always our intention right from the start to place it as a core range beer, one that we try to keep available all year round in all formats: cask, keg and bottle. That may not seem too radical now, but back in 2013, a 6.7% stout loaded with coffee, lactose and a very costly malt base wasn’t the easiest of sales!
Over the years we have made a few minor recipe and process tweaks along the way and couldn’t be happier with how our flagship stout is tasting now. 2016 in some ways felt like a breakthrough year for the beer, we ended up selling more Broken Dream casks in August than we had in some of the Winter months of 2015.
A key element of Broken Dream is the coffee, an ingredient we’ve maintained a very healthy obsession with! Right from the very beginning, we had a number of coffee roasters work with us to play around with different regions and varieties of beans to get the specific flavour we wanted to complement the beer.
A year or so later our heads were turned by Modern Times. Ryan, who was our Head Brewer at the time, got an opportunity to see some of their experiments out in San Diego, and barrel ageing coffee beans was something that really piqued our interest:
Here’s the basic premise: green (unroasted) coffee beans are extremely porous, and consequently, pick up aromas and flavors from their environment easily. Quality-focused coffee importers and roasters are hyper-sensitive to this issue, and go to great lengths to ensure that their green beans are not exposed to undesirable aromas during shipping and storage.
But what if you WANTED to add aroma and flavor to green beans? Well, you could, just by putting the beans in an environment where those aromas are prevalent and letting them sit there.
We couldn’t resist joining them in the pursuit, and Modern Times were really helpful in giving us insight into what works and doesn’t with these beans, you can read the full blog post they wrote here.
We immediately set to work on a few ideas with Tamp Culture, our local roaster to find great beans to best suit the barrels that we’d set aside for the project.
For the Bourbon barrels, Tamp Culture’s Guatemala was a great match, with a soft acidity, buttery body and delicate fruit notes leading to a touch of chocolate. For Rum barrels we went with a bean from Honduras with berry sweetness. The Bavarian Whiskey barrel has a much softer, rounder nose to it than a Bourbon barrel, and so we opted for a Cuban coffee with notes of sugar cane, praline and biscuit sweetness.
This was longer than a year ago now, so we’ve been regularly using our own small (tiny) batch roaster to
drink all the coffee because it’s delicious test how the character of the beans has been developing over time. You may have seen that our 2016 Rainbow Project beer, Blacklight Banana in collaboration with Garage Project, was the first time we utilised the barrel aged beans in a full release.
That beer ended up being one of our favourites from last year, and while we loved how it turned out, the soft balanced notes the ageing in barrels provided were a bit drowned out by the loud flavours of the rest of the beer, with the molasses beating the sweet vanilla notes into submission.
Bourbon Coffee Broken Dream is a different beast. Here we’ve brewed a full batch of Broken Dream using only the very special coffee beans, in fact, the winning amount of coffee in our tests was around three times what we’d usually use – to make sure the bourbon character is positively shining. You can pick up bottles from our online shop and brewery, along with all the usual outlets. We’ve also released around 60 kegs – so you might see it pop up on the local bar as well.
Please let us know what you think. The project is ongoing, we’re still learning and experimenting, and we can’t wait to create plenty more variants of Broken Dream and other new beers to really show off these new, unique and delicious flavours.