There are more Starbucks locations in the U.S. than there are stop signs. (Okay, that’s not even remotely true, but you had to think about it, right?) The fact is: Starbucks is everywhere. And because of the brand’s ubiquity, and your constant need for caffeination, you probably have a go-to drink order.
Now, you might not think that the ‘Bucks relates in any way to beer, but you’d be wrong! As it turns out, we can tell you which beer you’d like based on your favorite Starbucks drink. We consulted the expert opinion of Master Cicerone Max Bakker, an Educator for Anheuser-Busch’s The High End, to recommend beers based on your #1 coffee drink’s flavor profile.
So let’s raise one to our two favorite drinks: coffee and beer!
See the main image of this story? That’s the Mocha Frappuccino, a Starbucks classic. I’m drinking it as I write this! I love how perfectly it blends coffee and chocolate. As it turns out, this is a not uncommon combination in beer, too: “[Imperial stouts] offer a nice mix of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and a rich sweetness,” Bakker says. I’ve never had an imperial stout with a cow’s worth of whipped cream on top, but...maybe some breweries should try that? Hell, beer and sugary dairy products do go together….
Recommended beers: North Coast Brewing Co. Old Rasputin, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Narwhal, Elysian Brewing Dragonstooth
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The granddaddy of all Starbucks seasonal drinks is a frequently duplicated flavor profile in the beer world. Pumpkin has long been a popular seasonal beer, and adding coffee into the mix makes for an exceptionally tasty brew. “[Pumpkin stout] has all the flavors of espresso -- with the addition of traditional pumpkin spices added in,” Bakker notes. These beers taste similar enough to the “PSL” that you’ll swear the breweries hired Starbucks baristas sprinkle some pumpkin spices into each beer.
Recommended beers: Elysian Brewing Punkuccino, Southern Tier Brewing Co. Cold Press Coffee Pumking, Breckenridge Brewery Nitro Pumpkin Spice Latte
As someone who’s had plenty of Doubleshots on Ice in his life, I prefer the version sold in the Starbucks stores as opposed to the cans in the supermarket. There’s not much to the drink (it’s espresso over ice with a little milk and simple syrup) but it’s incredibly satisfying. As it turns out, that flavor profile has some similarities to beer. “The flavors of espresso are very similar to the roasted barley [notes] in an Irish stout,” Bakker says. And bonus points if you can find the recommended beers below on a nitro tap -- that’ll certainly lend some extra creaminess to the proceedings.
Recommended beers: Guinness Draught, Blue Point Brewing Co. Armchair, Beamish & Crawford Beamish Irish Stout
In case you’ve forgotten what’s in a Caramel Macchiato, it’s steamed milk, vanilla syrup, a little espresso, and a caramel drizzle. Flavorwise, the coffee takes a bit of a backseat to the caramel and milk. But since “caramel and milk” isn’t a super common flavor profile in beer, Bakker had to get a bit creative. “This one’s tough, but a Baltic porter should work,” he says. “It adds restrained roasted malt flavors, along with hints of caramel and dark fruits.”
Recommended beers: Baltika #6 Porter, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. Danzig, Smuttynose Brewing Co. Baltic Porter
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For a long time, Starbucks prepared iced coffee solely by pouring hot espresso over ice. While preparing coffee that way can taste just fine, it’s not ideal. Now, the coffee chain offers cold brew by letting Colombian and East African coffee beans steep in water for 20 hours before pouring the liquid over ice. To find a beer that matches its rich flavor profile, you’ll have to travel to Germany. Or, at least, find a beer made in the German style. “You need a beer with a smooth, restrained flavor -- [nothing] with burnt or with roasted malts -- and hints of chocolate,” explains Bakker. A Schwarzbier should do the trick!
Recommended beers: Köstritzer Schwarzbier, Uinta Brewing Baba, Devils Backbone Black Lager
This is as simple as a coffee drink gets: espresso and milk (in the form of a frothy foam hat worn by the java). Bakker recommends a stout (as with the Doubleshot), but he thinks cappuccino drinkers will enjoy more sweetness with their beer; he recommends looking for a sweet stout. These are typically beers that have added milk sugars. (Don’t worry, brewers aren’t pouring milk into a beer -- they’ve just got a dose of lactose. And they’re absolutely delicious.)
Recommended beers: Short’s Brewing Co. Cup a Joe, Lancaster Brewing Co. Milk Stout, Hitachino Nest Sweet Stout
Note: Elysian Brewing, Blue Point Brewing Co., Devils Backbone Brewing Co., and Breckenridge Brewery are members of The High End, owned by Anheuser-Busch.