It's time for our second collaboration with the brilliant team at Verdant Brewing Co. with the release of our 2023 Christmas porter - 'Burnthouse'. We take a look behind the scenes at this exciting partnership.
There are some limited-edition Christmas products that we never fail to get excited about—and coffee infused beer is most definitely one of them. When it came to a partnership between flavour and flair, we remembered just how much fun we had in 2022, working with the stellar team behind the brewers at Verdant Brewing Co. for our Christmas Coffee Stout—and we knew that they were perfect fit for this year’s exceptional Christmas coffee, Las Brisas.
We asked, and Verdant answered with a resounding ‘yes!’, and our second collaboration was borne, testament to the power of long-term relationships, here and around the world.
Since 2004 Verdant Brewing Co. have been tirelessly crafting some of the most flavour-loaded, unfiltered, hazy, vegan-friendly beers around. Hop forward to nearly a decade later, and the quality-driven team, headquartered in Cornwall, continue to dream up some of the tastiest beers on tap and in tins—including some awesome collaborations.
From one of the most adventurous coffee producers, Carlos Pola, Las Brisas presents an unrivalled seasonal coffee experience. Long term friend and pioneering producer Carlos took an innovative approach to maximise flavour potential with an experimental coffee process. Unlocking brilliant notes of tropical and citrus notes from unexpected sources, it’s this fruit-forward coffee that was selected to complement the depth and character of Verdant’s base porter recipe, lifting classic notes of charred bread crust, dark chocolate, and caramel for a brilliantly characterful pour.
We sat down to chat with the fondly named ‘beer wizard’, James Heffron, Verdant’s Head Brewer and Co-Founder, as we get ready to toast a drink that celebrates craft and a commitment to quality.
YOUR TEAM AFFECTIONALLY CALL YOU THE ‘BEER WIZARD’: HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO THE MAGIC OF BREWING BEER?
I started to notice really fruity flavours in pale beers around 2010; when I realised these were derived from hops, I was instantly hooked. I became obsessed with home brewing, trying to lock in as many hops as possible for the ultimate taste experience. Very quickly, I preferred the beers I was making to the commercial offerings in the UK … it was swiftly apparent that starting a brewery was essential!
LAST TIME, WE PRODUCED AN AWESOME STOUT TOGETHER—THIS TIME, WE'RE TALKING PORTER: WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
It’s all about the use of the roasted barley malt—that’s the easiest way to state the difference between a stout and porter. In stout production, strong, acrid, burnt flavours are brought to the fore. Porters are perhaps a little more rounded in their approach—but very similar all the same. We produce a cask porter (also called Burnthouse) which we really love, so it seemed natural to create a coffee version.
HOW IS A COFFEE PORTER CREATED—AND WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A COFFEE?
We wanted a little more body and backbone for the coffee to bounce off, so we elevated the ABV of our base porter recipe, bringing it up to 5.5%. The process of brewing a porter remains the same, right up until we add the coffee beans! This happens just before packaging: the porter is recirculated (cold) through a separate vessel with the beans. From here, it’s all about checking and tasting the beer for as long as it takes until there’s the perfect level of coffee infusion. We stop the recirculation, package the beer, and drink it!
WHEN IT COMES TO CHOOSING THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS FOR YOUR BEER, WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER?
Marrying flavours is a key component to beer production—for this coffee porter, we looked for flavours that bounced off the base porter rather than simply accentuating existing ones. With every beer we look at the data and use the experience we have and work together to make informed decisions. We’re not afraid to make mistakes—it’s all part of the experience.
TALK US THROUGH THE PROCESS OF CREATING A NEW BEER.
There’s a lot that happens before we get to the actual brew day: from idea germination, which follows through to recipe conclusion, then label creation, and the marketing strategy. Then, of course, we need to get the ingredients! On brewing day, we’ll steep the grains and create the sugary wort: this is boiled and added to the hops, along with slats, to create bespoke water profiles. We then transfer this wort to a fermenter and pitch wonderful active live yeast. Over the course of a week or so the wort is transformed into beer; it’s rested (conditioned) for another week or so, and then it’s on to carbonating and packaging the beer into kegs, cans, and casks, depending on the style and demand!
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF—AND WHAT'S NEXT?
We’ve gone through huge growth as a company—so for the coming year we are looking to sustain our current output volume rather than force it upwards. There are plenty of other ways we are keen to grow, though, such as bringing new venues online and reducing our carbon footprint. We employ many wonderful people: this is their company, and we must steward it accordingly. We are most famous for hazy IPAs and fully saturated hop flavours, but we love all beer styles and approach each one in the same manner: to produce world class offerings. We always focus on maximum flavour coupled with consistency and quality—and have a lot of fun doing it.
WHO ARE YOU GIFTING BURNTHOUSE TO THIS SEASON?
Oh blimey! Well, I’m hoping we sell out! But there’ll definitely be some gifting to friends and family—and what a perfect seasonal beer to do so with.
We couldn’t agree more. Stock up on Burnthouse now and get ready to toast the season with exceptional coffee and beer.
Liked these questions, and keen to hear more? Join us in London and Cornwall on November 22nd, with pints and pens at the ready. We’re co-hosting an evening of entertainment with the Origin x Verdant Brewing Co. Pub Quiz at Scoresby Street in London, and at the Verdant Taproom in Cornwall. Get your tickets for London here and find out more about the Cornwall evening here.