Brew Love: How Two Michigan Makers Teamed Up to Create Umcommonly Tweaked

The Saugatuck/Douglas area is the kind of place where neighbors help neighbors. But sometimes, instead of borrowing a cup of sugar, they’re getting together over coffee.

Uncommon Coffee Roasters and Saugatuck Brewing Company have literally grown up across the street from each other, with the coffee business roasting its first beans in 2000 and the brewery tapping its barrels in 2005. In the natural flow of sharing coffee in the morning and drinks at the brewery after work, workers at the two companies quickly got to know each other and developed a bond. Over the years, the roasters were quick to lend a hand (or even a forklift) to the brewery whenever needed, and in 2018, the two neighbors put their heads—and their products—together in a brand new way.

Last spring, SBC released Uncommonly Tweaked, an amber ale brewed with certified organic Peruvian El Cautivo coffee beans from Uncommon Coffee Roasters. “We have been brewing coffee beers for a long time,” says Megan Scheerhorn, Vice President of Marketing at SBC. While Uncommonly Tweaked isn’t currently available, SBC will be releasing more for the upcoming Summer of 2019.

The beer evolved from Tweaked Scott, a Scottish coffee ale that SBC brewed in 2015. “We had that idea largely in place,” explains SBC Production Manager PJ Goudreault, “but we wanted to incorporate Uncommon more in the process. So we took the base recipe, changed up the yeast, and added this nice new coffee. A lot of people do darker style beers like coffee stouts and coffee porters, but going into warmer weather, we wanted something a little lighter. We settled on this amber ale, and we’re pretty happy with the way it turned out!”

“Instead of looking at each other thinking, ‘How can I make my own business more successful,’ we look at it as, ‘How can we make everything in this town more successful?’” – Megan Scheerhorn, VP of Marketing at SBC

Finding the right flavor profile for the coffee beans was an essential part of the process. Casey Boeve, Controller at Uncommon, explains, “We had the production team from SBC over and did a cupping with one of our roasters. We tasted through a variety of coffees that we could offer, and they already knew what type of beer it was going to be. Based on that, they were able to pick the profile they liked that would pair well with the beer.”

While many coffee beers are made with liquid coffee, Uncommonly Tweaked uses the whole beans. “We use a pound of coffee per every 31 gallons, and it is cold expressed through the beer,” says Goudreault. “That probably raises the caffeine a little bit, but it’s fairly negligible….not the same as drinking a cup of coffee.”

As far as the name goes, Scheerhorn says, “We wanted to incorporate Uncommon Coffee Roasters into the name of the beer and play off Tweaked Scot, the other coffee beer we made in the past. We also used the font from Uncommon’s logo on the packaging to give them even more recognition.”

In the past, the beer has been a hit. Scheerhorn says, “If I walk into the pub and see a full bar, and people are drinking Oval Beach Blonde or one of our others—which are all great beers, I’ll walk around with tasters and say, ‘You guys have to try this beer.’ Then everyone lines up and says, ‘That is awesome. I’ll take a six-pack to go.’ I have historically been an IPA drinker, but this beer pleases all palates. It’s not over the top on anything, not way too coffee-ish or way too beery. It’s perfect.”

Scheerhorn adds, “That’s a classic Saugatuck thing. All of the craft beverage makers in this town–us, Fenn Valley, Virtue, Crane’s, Uncommon, and the new brewing company Guardian–have a very close relationship.  Instead of looking at each other thinking, ‘How can I make my own business more successful,’ we look at it as, ‘How can we make everything in this town more successful?’ This is just another example of hey, we love our neighbors, and we love this town, and we just wanted to do stuff together.”

To try Uncommonly Tweaked, stop by SBC this Summer for a taste.

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