In Blida, ripe coffee cherries are dried on beds under the Ethiopian sun, developing a juicy acidity and intense fruitiness which bring this already humongous beer to psychedelic heights.
“Purple haze, all in my brain Lately things, they don't seem the same Up and down, coffee beer is the mantra Excuse me while I kiss Cassandra”
During one of the many beer festivals at which we pour in Belgium, we were allocated a spot opposite the stall of Hedonis Ambachtsbier.
Janos de Baets and Leopold De Ketelaere came to visit us with a bottle of their imperial stout, ‘Excuse Me While I kiss My Stout’ (9% ABV). In return, we shared our Oyster Stout, ‘Cassandra’ (7% ABV).
Before the bottles were finished, we were blending the beers together.
At the same time, we were discussing ideas for the 2018 instalment of the Uppers & Downers festival in London where roasters and breweries collaborate to create a unique coffee beer.
The previous year we had worked with Belgian micro-roastery, ‘Or Coffee’ to create “Hutwe”: a delicate, dry, coffee saison of 5% ABV showcasing an acidic, ‘green’ and fruity coffee from the Congo.
This year, we went straight to the complete opposite of the spectrum. ‘Excuse Me While I Kiss Cassandra’ is an ‘Imperial Espresso Oyster Stout’ of 12% ABV, with big boozy warmth and intense chocolate notes.
To achieve our vision of a viscous, creamy and intense beer, we mashed ridiculously thick with a grain bill which included pale ale, munich, caramunich and chocolate malts as well as roasted barley and oat and barley flakes.
And we didn’t sparge. At all. Instead, we mashed a second time and then boiled the two humongous gyles together in one ginormous batch with bags of fresh oyster shells.
We needed a coffee big and bold enough to stand up to the intense malt and booze flavours of the beer.
After several cuppings, ‘Or Coffee’ suggested the espresso variety Blida, a naturally processed, direct fair trade coffee from the Guji region of Ethiopia.
It was dried on beds under the African sun and roasted in Belgium days before being used in the beer, fresh and juicy for its espresso and cold brew additions, making up 10% of the final blend.