We have been working with our friends at Wasted Degrees on the perfect brew. Not just the everyday filter brew we put to liven up our mornings but something altogether more intense and potent. This concoction is an 800 litre mix of heavily roasted barley, oats, locally grown hops and a cold brew made up with our Costa Rican Volcan Azul coffee beans.
In a couple of weeks’ time this mix of ingredients will have all matured and fermented into a stunning ‘Volcano Coffee Stout’. Rich, smooth and made with Scottish grown ‘wet hops,’ this unique collaboration will end in a short run of only 2,200 cans. This brew is now part of an annual tradition, with each brew sharing the same core recipe but with every new vintage featuring a distinct hero ingredient. So when our 2023 collaboration brew is sold out, the beer is gone forever.
It is precisely this spirit of one-off experimentation that is a biggest ingredient in the Wasted Degrees beers that are brewed in Blair Atholl. You’ll always find familiar styles, but the recipes and names are always changing. Recent lines have also included locally sourced Spruce Tips and Bog Myrtle which goes right back to the Viking era. Jack Low, who owns and runs Wasted Degrees together with his brother Conall, said “we are always looking to challenge ourselves and offer others something that’s interesting, which is why we only routinely re-brew two of our beers and choose to brew different recipes otherwise”.
At the heart of their approach to sourcing local ingredients is a commitment to reduce their carbon footprint wherever possible. The fresh ‘wet’ hops in this Coffee Stout were grown in Scone, just 20 miles from the brewery. A fundamental flavour component in modern beer, hops are usually imported from as far as North America, Central Europe and New Zealand. “If people grow for us locally we can make a huge carbon saving,” commented Jack. The brewery is also powered on renewable electricity.
Wasted Degrees follow these efforts to reduce waste and CO2 right thoughout their supply chain. They have swapped over from bottling their beer in glass bottles to their own canning line because this process is much less energy intensive, and aluminium is ‘infinitely recyclable, unlike glass.’ They have opted for non-virgin plastic recyclable kegs that are light and therefore less fuel intensive to transport. And the labels on their cans are now made from a product called ‘forest film,’ a 100% wood based material that is derived from the timber processing industry. Overall, Jack commented, “we calculated that the simple transition from glass to cans has reduced the carbon footprint of our beers by around 20%”.
Conall and Jack are also taking advantage of their rural location. From the early days of their business they have worked with local farms who come and pick up the cereal by-products of their brewing, mainly barley, oats, wheat and rye. This goes out into the fields as feed for cattle and pigs so that none of the nutritional value goes to waste. The two brothers are committed to maintaining this cycle regardless of how much their business scales up in the coming years.
Still small compared to the bigger breweries out there, Wasted Degrees are confidently carving out a space for themselves in a competitive market. Conall is convinced that when it comes to food and drink, “values are shifting and people are favouring quality rather than quantity when purchasing things other than necessities.” The run-away popularity of the tap room at their brewery in Blair Atholl is proof enough of how important provenance and ethical sourcing is to beer as well as coffee lovers.
We are thrilled to have been invited along to this, our second beer collaboration with Wasted Degrees, and are confident that the short run Coffee Stout will more than live up to the billing. If you do manage to get your hands on one of these limited edition cans please remember to also savour the ethics, vision and collaborative spirit behind the fabulous flavour of Wasted Degrees beer.