It’s back! Our beloved Mudhouse Stout returns to taps at Brew. Co. This brew has been part of our lineup since 2002 thanks to our resident brewmaster, Ashton Lewis, who knew his love of coffee and beer could somehow be combined. With the help of the roasters at Mudhouse, and several pots of Sumatra, the first batch of Mudhouse Stout was born, and it’s been a seasonal favorite ever since.
As our partnership with downtown neighbor Mudhouse stretches into its 14th year, we rounded up Ashton, our head brewer Bruce and the talented Silas–who roasts the coffee over at Mudhouse–to learn how coffee and beer collide in their lives. It’s often messy and painful, but it’s always delicious.
When you’re done here, check out our Q&A with Ashton as he looks back on how that first batch of Mudhouse Stout came to life. Now meet our coffee and beer experts.
What roast of coffee do you use in this beer?
Bruce: Sumatran dark roast
Favorite type of coffee?
Bruce: What’s in my cup.
Silas: Personally, I go for a medium-roast Sumatra or Brazilian coffee, always french pressed; I don’t trust paper filters.
Ashton: Earthy, low acid, highly flavorful roasts… like Sumatra Mandheling!
How did you get started roasting?
Silas: I’ve worked in coffee for nearly a decade, first as a barista, then I transitioned to roasting about a year and a half ago when our previous roaster moved. It’s been a good challenge for me. I’ve learned a lot and I’m proud of the coffee I’m putting out.
Ashton: The Mudhouse opened the same year as SBC, so when we decided to brew a coffee stout we approached the Mudhouse and asked about a custom roast. Kyle Jeffries, the roaster at the time, did not like highly roasted coffees and used to joke about “Charbucks” over-roasting their beans. I wanted a highly roasted Sumatra Mandheling for our beer and had to beg him to make us a special roast.
Worst coffee-related injury?
Bruce: Had a mountain bike crash and dislocated my shoulder. I’m pretty sure I drank coffee that morning so it’s related, right?
Silas: Before I worked in coffee I did some welding, you get used to burns pretty quickly doing that so the hot coffee doesn’t bother me.
Ashton: My grandmother bought me a really cool coffee mug with a sailboat on it when I was probably around 12 years old at a coffee shop called Barnie’s Coffee & Tea (now closed). I loved this cup… I dropped it in my garage about 5 years ago. This really was sad for me because my grandmother had recently passed away. I also really pride myself in not breaking glassware, so this was a huge personal failure. Really sad story. Major injury.
Best coffee memory?
Bruce: Every morning I drink it sitting by a river.
Silas: This’ll sound odd but I had one of my best cups of coffee by myself. It happened last spring. There was a torrential downpour that morning. The rain was heavy enough that the trees outside my house danced, each branch waiving independently of the others to bend down and dump the water off the leaves and then spring back to do it again. The leaves were fresh, and the shiniest, greenest green in the middle of all this silver rain. I took my time making my coffee. Then I just sat and watched the show for an hour. That was a damn fine cup of coffee.
Ashton: Taking a tour of the Starbucks roasting operation in Seattle. Very cool!
Best way to enjoy Mudhouse Stout?
Bruce: With my lovely wife. At least for me it is.
Silas: Come to Mudlounge and drink a pint out on our patio. It’s hands-down the best spot downtown to enjoy a beer in the fall weather.
Ashton: With Coffee Cake.
What role does beer play in your life?
Bruce: It pays my bills.
Silas: Well, I bartend on the weekend so I’m around it a lot, but I’m not a heavy drinker. I know the flavor profiles and whatnot for the sake of my job but I prefer whiskey if anything.
Ashton: Helps keep me focused. I am very focused on beer.
What role does coffee play in your life?
Bruce: It allows me to wake up so I can make beer to pay my bills.
Silas: Coffee is a huge part of my life. It’s how I make my living, and it’s a big part of my morning ritual. It also walks hand-in-hand with my reading/writing habit.
Ashton: Helps keep me focused. Especially when I over-focus on beer.
Do you dream of coffee?
Silas: Haha! Well, I have this reoccurring nightmare; in the dream I’m the only barista working at Mudhouse on a Saturday night and of course the place is packed and of course nothing works, and I’m getting chewed out by the customers. I haven’t worked as a barista for a year, and I still have that dream. Most of the other baristas have that dream, too.
Do you remember the first time you had Mudhouse Stout?
Ashton: It was the first time we brewed it in 2002. Damn fine stuff, that Mudhouse Stout.
How many test runs did you guys go through to get Mudhouse Stout?
Ashton: We produce this beer by blending coffee into a robust stout. We came up with the first batch by doing test blends in the brewery and selecting the blend with the best coffee aroma and flavor. Translation … the first production batch was also technically the first test run, so we took this from idea to reality in one run.