Project Barista 2021
Project Barista is back!
T.S. Eliot once said “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” We can relate to that, although with us it’s more like industrial sized sacks… and that’s just the office. It’s no secret that we absolutely love coffee here at Siren. We’ve been big fans of using coffee in beer since we started out in 2013. In fact, we used coffee in one of the first beers ever to come through our fledgling brewhouse - Broken Dream.
Even then, we didn’t take the decision on what coffee to use lightly, instead choosing to team up with a local independent roaster to explore the impact that different varieties, roast strengths and methods of addition might make. Did we want balance from the coffee, did we want acidity, did we want a profile inline with the beer itself, did we want to add notes that the malts couldn’t provide, did we want to accent flavours that were already there.
Not long later we stumbled upon a happy mistake, as some dark malts (from a Broken Dream grist) found their way into a Soundwave brew. Persevering, the team made it into the best beer they could, with a coffee addition that blew us away. That beer became known as Americano.
It got us thinking… if coffee can be so versatile and offer us so much, why limit its use to stouts and porters? We gradually began to work coffee into more ideas, whether it be one-off specials for events like a Coffee Calypso or Summer Spreeze (a coffee & tea pale ale), or starting to age green coffee beans in bourbon and rum barrels with future beers in mind.
Eventually, there were so many ideas percolating (sorry) that we just had to go bigger. And so came the project that no-one ever knew they wanted. Four outrageous coffee beers, made with different coffees, used in different ways, launched all at the same time on a sunny day in June. The reaction was part excitement, part intrigue and part confusion, just the way we like it.
The project has made us better brewers, always learning more and always looking to be more creative. It’s also delivered some of the best beers we’ve ever made. Turkish caused a stir (especially in the accounts department - sorry about the figs!) with its incredible symphony of big flavours and complexity. Even more so a couple of years later with the barrel aged version. Crema gave our barrel aged coffee centre stage and pathed the way for future white stouts and capHeine (along with being the most mispronounced name we’ve ever used) set us on a new path of how coffee could work in sour beers.
Then of course there is Affogato, a beer that’s taken a life of its own while being impossible to categorise.
It’s always been important to us that the concepts for these beers come from all over the team, no matter what their job role - everyone has the freedom to get involved and the project is all the better for it. We then work with independent roasters at the top of their game to develop recipes and coffee selections. The coffee is the star of the show, of course.
Project Barista has produced some of our favourite ever events, always great fun and informative, and even went on tour with Good Beer Hunting’s Uppers & Downers festival. We hope you find that this year’s lineup will be as exciting, confusing and delicious as you’ve come to expect.
So, without further ado, onto the lineup... keep scrolling for details of the event!
Press to Zest
4.5% Lemon & Coffee Gose
Roaster: Climpson & Sons
Coffee Variety: The Estate
Origin: Ethiopia - Sidamo
Addition: Whirlpool & Hot Steep
An adventure in acidity, with coffee, lemon and souring with lactobacillus helveticus all competing for attention. Lemon is no stranger to espresso, with drinks like Mazagran and Iced Coffee Lemonade providing some early inspiration, along with its resurgence in recent times as a popular feel-good combination.
We chose the coffee for its orange and bergamot notes, which came through really nicely in the whirlpool. Upon tasting, we decided some further additions would be required to pick up fuller, more robust and chocolatey coffee notes, which a warm steep in the spinbot and an overnight spin helped to layer up.
Press to Zest is made with sea salt, which is often used to soften bitterness in coffee. We like how it gives us perceived sweetness, nice body and some roundness in a beer which inherently lends itself to sharpness. The result is a clean, balanced and refreshing drink with plenty of nuance to keep you guessing.
Extra Special Beans
5.8% Coffee ESB
Roaster: Hard Lines
Coffee Variety: Pedro Ramirez
Origin: Guatemala - San Antonio Huista
Addition: Cold steeped overnight in Spinbot, circulated back into the tank and process repeated to taste.
As a general rule, Project Barista beers tend to play fast and loose with beer style definitions. They tend to be made to meet a concept first and foremost, with our job then to make sure we describe the beer in a way that gives everyone a good idea of what to expect. This beer is a little different, as we take on a very well versed style of beer and give it a Project Barista spin.
We’ve used a yeast strain that epitomises the style and made the beer with a more traditional fermentation profile than usual, helping to extract those delicious, delicate esters. We’re looking to exaggerate existing flavours and aromas of an ESB, so our coffee is selected for its apricot, light chocolate and nutty notes, infused slowly to make sure it remains balanced and not overpowering.
We feel that nitrogenating beers can offer an experience similar to that of hand-pulled cask, which makes it a perfect choice here, but we also hope you find the acidity of the coffee adds back a little ‘zing’ that carbonation would otherwise help with. Well worth trying in all 3 formats.
Coffee Variety: No Name Blend
Origin: 60% Brazil, 40% El Salvador
Addition: Spinbot extraction for 72 hours at 1°C
Doppelbocks are big, strong, hearty lagers and we’re delighted to have an excuse to make one for the first time. It’s also a pleasure to work with Phil once more, who was integral to the first ever Project Barista in a former role, now back under his own Anonymous guise. Between us we selected a coffee for this beer that would stand up to it. Mirror it. A perfect match of profile that keeps each side of coffee vs beer one-upping the other as you drink it, with the real winners being us!
To do this we used a blended espresso with exquisite plum, raisin and dark chocolate notes, the signature coffee at Anonymous. Part of the joy of Doppelbocks is their reassuring sweetness, but with relatively high alcohol it’s important that they don’t become cloying. Coffee plays into our hands here, with its inherent bitterness bringing balance.
Caffè Lungo has spent a long time conditioning cold, so we followed that theme by spinning the coffee at just 1°C. Working this way gives us a very accurate idea of how the coffee will present after packaging, which is not always the easiest to judge. This beer is full bodied, packed with plenty of rich dark fruit notes and is remarkably drinkable. Meanwhile the clean, direct espresso hit means it truly is one for the coffee lovers.
10% Imperial Stout
Roaster: Quarter Horse
Coffee Variety: Fazenda Minamihara
Origin: Brazil - Alta Mogiana
Additions: Mash, Kettle, Whirlpool, Spinbot
Green beans aged in Buffalo Trace barrels at Siren for 12 weeks
Project Barista wouldn’t be complete without a showstopper. Although it’s fun to experiment with using coffee across all styles, it would be silly to try and deny it’s amazing in big stouts. As the name might suggest, cacao is making an appearance here in this indulgent beer, along with a generous pinch of vanilla. Undoubtedly though, this is a coffee beer.
The beans were selected with the help of Quarter Horse who work with us on all our barrel aged coffee, this particular Brazilian variety being aged in our former Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels. The coffee itself is sweet, with chocolate, roasted almond and peanut butter vibes, plus the ageing process adding caramel, oak and whisky character. When adding barrel aged coffee we always use half beans and half ground, helping to lock in the barrel flavours.
In terms of additions - all of them. Yep, coffee has been added at every stage of this brew, from both mashes onwards. Mucha Mocha is rich, with a slick sweetness and thick mouthfeel. There's an intense depth of flavour and complexity, with something different coming out of every sip, especially as it begins to warm in the glass. It’s everything we look for in a Project Barista stout, and we hope you love it.
This Years Project Barista Party
We couldn't be happier to be inviting people back down to the brewery to enjoy a beer or two with us. To make sure things run as smoothly as possible, we've decided to opt for our first ever ALL IN ticket, which includes your transport from Wokingham, Festival Access (including all the live talks), Project Barista Glass, Booklet and of course all the beer (and wine or soft drinks) you can enjoy.
Please do drink responsibly!
Gates open at 1pm, and we'll be closing at 6. Check out all the information you need below, including transport, food and of course the all important line up of beers:
Street Food and Coffee!
As always, we have a host of brilliant street food options to keep you all well fed. Tap Yard favourites, Demaine Artisan, will be serving up their Asian Fusion. Bears Burgers & Chicken are there for some classic beer pairings and Unholy Donuts are providing some sweet treats! Anonymous will be on hand for your coffee fix - look out for their latte art!
We'll be operating our shop from the warehouse today. Pick up all our fresh releases and some very special Project Barista treats, including all the coffees used in this year's beers, cups, glasses, t-shirts and gift sets. Don't forget your train beers!
As mentioned, your all in ticket includes travel from Wokingham.
12:20 Wokingham Station to Siren (there are trains arriving from both London and Reading at 12:10)
13:00 Wokingham Station to Siren (there are trains arriving from both London and Reading at 12:52)
13:30 Wokingham Station to Siren (there are trains arriving from both London and Reading at 13:22)
17:00 Siren to Wokingham Station (there are trains leaving for both London and Reading at 17:23 and 17:25)
17:50 Siren to Wokingham Station (there are trains leaving for both London and Reading at 18:23)
18:30 Siren to Wokingham Station (there are trains leaving for both London and Reading at 18:53 and 18:57)
For the first time this year, we'll also be hosting a series of live talks. These will also be live streamed, so if you can't get a good view, feel free to check them out on your mobile. Or, if you can't make the event then grab the beers online to get access.
2.30 - Welcome Talk with Darron Anley
Siren founder, Darron, introduces the Barista Project and looks over the origin, history and previous beers. Find out his highlights, and what excites him so much about this year’s line up of beers and hybrid event.
3.00 - Tasting Coffee with Anonymous Coffee
Phil from local coffee champions, Anonymous, gives an insider talk into the world of coffee from bean to cup, with a guide to how to taste coffee properly. We’ll also hear about how Anonymous came to be.
3.30 - Using Coffee in Beer with Sean Knight and Guests
Siren Head Brewer, Sean, along with some of his brew team and a special guest talk about using coffee in beer. Learn all about the techniques involved, and what brewers are looking to get from beans in the brew.
4.00 - Tasting Beer with Siren's Brew Team
This is the fun part! Get your Barista beers chilled and a fresh glass ready. Drink the beers along with the brewers who made it happen, with expert tasting notes and the inspiration behind each beer.
There we go then folks, we can't wait to see you all here on Saturday. There's still time to go grab your ticket, so don't miss out. We've all been stuck at home for too long so come down and enjoy a real live event, we've missed you!