Oskar Blues Brewery
Considering how many coffee-drinking fanatics line up every morning for a sip of sweet, sweet black gold (an especially fitting nickname for the joe that can cost up to $5 per cup these days), it’s strange that coffee beers aren’t more popular. And that’s a shame! These alcoholic brews contain many of the delicious coffee flavors (and yes, caffeine!) that make hot coffee so popular.
One man planted firmly at the intersection of beer and coffee is Scott Schwebel, VP of Marketing for Colectivo Coffee, a coffee roaster with cafes in Wisconsin and Illinois that -- wait for it… -- also brews beer. And after you’ve tried Colectivo’s delicious Cortado Imperial Stout made with milk sugar and coffee, you’ve got to track down the great coffee beers by other brewers that Schwebel recommends. He’s got you covered no matter what type of buzzy drink you prefer -- whether black sludge, or a super-sweet cup of coffee-flavored sugar:
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For lovers of: Black coffee
Your beer: Three Sheeps Uber Joe
Origin: Sheboygan, WI
Why it’s ideal for you: “For straight-forward coffee lovers who drink it black, coffee stouts offer a strong flavor profile, and often a higher ABV to boot,” Schwebel says. He’s not kidding -- this beer boasts a 10% ABV. “This is one of our favorites: Its rich, dark color is as much a nod to the aesthetic of coffee served black as is its punchy, full-forward flavor.” As great as Uber Joe sounds, we’re tempted to develop a slightly cheaper beer called Lyft Joe, just to see if it takes off.
For lovers of: Espresso
Your beer: Oskar Blues Hotbox Coffee IPA
Origin: Lyons, CO
Why it’s ideal for you: “Espresso lovers turn to their drink of choice for an intense, if not viscous, experience,” explains Schwebel. “For intense flavor-seekers exploring coffee beers, coffee IPAs deliver a similarly potent punch.” Potent is right, as the beer is 7.2% ABV with 70 IBUs -- even though it pours like a lightly colored IPA. It may take a few sips for your brain to realize that despite the java-based beer’s uncommon appearance, there are loads of coffee notes in here. As Schwebel suggests, look for the “unique balance of fruit and carbonation that delivers maximum flavor espresso drinkers will appreciate.”
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For lovers of: Lattes
Your beer: Founders Nitro Oatmeal Stout
Origin: Grand Rapids, MI
Why it’s ideal for you: “If you enjoy the smooth, creamy balance of a latte, nitro beers are a familiar treat,” Schwebel reasons. “The use of nitrogen eliminates the fizzy bite of traditional CO2 brews, simulating the mouthfeel of dairy and yielding a smoother, creamier character akin to a classic latte,” Medium bodied, at 4.5% ABV with 38 IBUs, Founders Oatmeal Stout isn't actually made with any coffee -- but its flaked oats, chocolate malt, and roasted barley combine to give the beer a coffee flavor that pairs perfectly with a latte.
For lovers of: Coffee with sugar (lots of it)
Your beer: Stone Brewing Coffee Milk Stout
Origin: Escondido, CA
Why it’s ideal for you: If you’ve ever had a coffee drink that ends in -rappuccino, we have a feeling you’ll like this next milk stout. “Unlike the boldness of straight coffee stouts, milk stouts draw from lactic sugars in a way that emulates the milky sweetness found in sweeter coffee concoctions,” says Schwebel. “These smooth, heavy-bodied roasts will hit the spot for coffee drinkers with a sweet tooth.” While we always encourage people to drink beer shortly after purchase, Stone claims that up to 12 months in a properly temperature-controlled cellar could alter the beer’s flavor in interesting ways (e.g. it may even mellow out the coffee notes). The only way to find out is to buy two bottles: one to drink now and one to age.