Alltech is in the early stages of adding a fourth beer to its Kentucky Ale stable of brews.
The company recently finished and sampled its first test batch of a coffee stout that uses the Haitian coffee it launched in September 2010. The company partnered with the farmers after the devastating earthquake there in early 2010 and uses the proceeds from coffee sales to help them through infrastructure improvements and other projects.
"Now the brewery becomes a customer for the coffee, as well," said Matt Cordle, national sales manager for Alltech's Lexington Brewing Co. "The hope is that some of the proceeds outside of just buying the coffee will go back to the sustainability fund."
The beer variety would be the first launched by Alltech since Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale was introduced in 2006. Like that beer, the coffee stout, which has not been named yet, will also be aged in barrels, Cordle said.
"We haven't done any barrel aging yet, though," he said. "The plan is to get the stout just the way we want it with the right amount of coffee."
Stouts are a variety of dark beers; arguably the most famous is Guinness, a dry or Irish stout. But stouts exist in several varieties, such as oatmeal stout, chocolate stout and coffee stout.
Alltech brews the coffee stout using roasted malts and the Haitian coffee. After fermentation, it's aged on Haitian coffee beans and then in bourbon barrels to add what Master Brewer Ken Lee called "a subtle sweetness along with classic aromas and flavors found in fine bourbons."
"The results are a very dark beer with deep roasted flavor notes, coffee aromas, vanilla and caramel in a slightly sweet full-bodied liquid," Lee said. It's "a complex and pleasing version of this classic beer style."
The stout uses 12 pounds of the Haitian coffee in the current batch size.
Cordle said he expects the coffee stout to be priced a little higher at retail than the company's other products.
"It's a special beer," he said.
The second batch is being fermented now. "We're hoping we nail it with this one and can go ahead," he said.
There's no timeline for the release, but Cordle expects the company to release it as a draft beer first while it designs and prepares packaging for the bottled variety.
The boost for Alltech's fair-trade Haitian coffee, called Alltech Café Citadelle, comes as the product is also expanding distribution.
Among the new local retailers carrying the coffee are Straus Tobacconist at Lexington Center, Only in Kentucky at Victorian Square, Liquor Barn in Danville and the University of Kentucky's convenience store at Blazer Hall.
The company also recently inked a deal with cruise line Royal Caribbean to have the coffee served to its crew on all of its ships and is working to open a store in Labadee, Haiti, which is a port for Royal Caribbean that sees 600,000 visitors annually.