Flat Caps Coffee and Damned Yank seek perfect coffee beer

Damned Yank Brew Co's Dave Witters and Flat Caps Coffee's Joe Meagher combine to make coffee beerAn award-winning barista and one of Tyneside’s most prominent home brewers have joined forces to try and improve the standards of “coffee beer.”

Former bean counter turned bean expert Joe Meagher, who founded Flat Caps Coffee on Newcastle’s Ridley Place in 2010, is working with “Damned Yank” Dave Witters on a cold drip stout.

But with no plans to use the results of their experiments commercially, the pair will instead be offering up their findings to the breweries of the North East.

“Dave and myself met, as a lot of these things come about, in the pub,” said ex-banker Joe, who came fifth at this year’s UK Barista Championships.

“He often brings in samples of his home brew beers in and I can honestly say they are some of the nicest beers I’ve tasted.

“We started discussing doing something together when I was getting frustrated that although local breweries had shown interest in working on something together it just never seemed to happen.

“So he suggested we do something and show them how its done and make them regret not jumping at the opportunity initially.”

Dave provided Joe with six bottles of stout he had brewed on his home brew kit in South Shields – a set-up that has previously produced beers under the Damned Yank Brew Co name.

And Joe then blended in some of his own cold drip coffee – created by slowly, drip by drip, passing water through coffee in a special apparatus, over a period of a few hours.

“I took them home and, choosing a coffee which has some really interesting flavours, especially when made using the cold drip method, and which I used in the UKBC, mixed in different amounts of cold drip coffee,” said Joe.

“This was purely to give us an idea of how much coffee we would need to add at the brewing stage in future experiments.

“I settled on two percentages – 10% coffee and 15% coffee – then we asked other beer drinkers in the Free Trade Inn which they thought were best.

“They were both amazing coffee beers but we all agreed the lower 10% gave us that subtle coffee taste and allowed the majority of the drink to be about the stout and not the coffee.”

The pair now plan to brew the stout again, but this time adding in the cold drip coffee at the brewing stage.

“We will see how that tastes and if we decide it needs more work then we’ll tinker with it if it needs it,” said Joe.

“But I dont’t think we’ll ever brew it for sale ourselves – the goal is to perfect a method of brewing a with coffee that produces a beer with gentle, delicious coffee flavours, as well as other flavours, and then if larger brewers want to brew using this method then we will have done the work to make it possible.”