The Best Coffee Beer in 2018 (These are amazing)
Coffee and beer go together... like rum and coke. Or tequila and lime. Or gin and tonic.
You get it – the combination just works.
It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing – with the sum of the whole being greater than the two parts.
And, let’s face it. Coffee roasters and brew masters are two sides of the same coin. This was bound to happen.
Aren’t you glad that it’s now its own niche market in the craft brew world?
And, if you’ve ever met someone who works as a roaster or a brewer, you know... they tend to REALLY like their coffee and their beer.
Being the creative and God-like lot that they are, they have done us mere mortals a huge favor by creating coffee beer in a wide range of flavor profiles – giving the world some of the most delicious caffeinated craft beer you can imagine.
TOP PICK: The Surly Brewing Co.’s Coffee Bender
For a light and substantial drink of coffee beer, the Surly Brewing Co.'s Coffee Bender is the way to go.
It's made with cold press coffee and delivers a cappuccino-like texture that's delicious and creamy.
You can surely expect the perfect kind of blend with its brew and beer.
Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Coffee Beer
There are so many options of coffee beer out there – how do you know which one to choose?
It can feel challenging to identify the best coffee beers.
So come along, coffee beer-loving member of the tribe. Take a little tour of the best coffee beers out there – and learn which ones to try first!
What Is Coffee Beer?
The craft beer explosion has created a special hop-infused, caffeine-fuelled corner of this market, creating a real demand for coffee beer.
If you are new to combining your beer and coffee in the same glass, check out this video that explains the concept.
Making coffee beer is an art and a science. It’s not just about adding coffee beans to beer.
And, for beer masters, it’s about finding not just what is the best coffee for beer, but how to bring them together so that the flavors complement each other (and for the record, it doesn’t mean just soaking the beans in beer to make beer coffee beans – that’s not how it works).
Does Coffee Beer Have Caffeine?
One of the questions that always comes up is does coffee beer have caffeine?
The answer is yes – usually. But unless you are clearly informed that there is no caffeine in a coffee beer, assume that there is.
And what naturally follows this question is, how much alcohol is in beer coffee?
And the answer is: it depends.
The alcohol comes from the beer and different brews have different alcohol levels – so check before you drink.
Identify What You Like
While this might seem sacrilege to you, when deciding which coffee beer you want to try, the type of beer you prefer may be more important than the roast or origin of the coffee.
While you will certainly get the nuances of the coffee, the beer is generally the flavor driver because there is such a big difference between types of brew.
If you would typically drink a stout, porter, ale or IPA, start with that type of coffee beer.
You can certainly experiment and try other ones (and you are encouraged to do exactly that), but if you don’t like ale at all, a bit of added coffee is unlikely to change that.
However, you should know that in the world of coffee beer, stout and porter are still king.
While coffee beer is no longer limited to dark stouts, porters or heavier brews, it can be challenging to find a really great one that isn’t dark.
Although, it is important to expand your horizons and try new things – and sometimes you can find a great IPA or other ale coffee brew. Keep trying! It’s all in the adventure.
Understand the Beer
Some beer tastes better cold, while others are better at room temperature (seriously – Guinness, for one, is preferable at room temperature).
Understanding the chill factor for the beer is the key to a positive taste experience.
You don’t want ale warm and you don’t want a porter cold. Or maybe you do.
There is a whole train of thought that says you have what you like, experts be damned.
It’s important to note that drinking the coffee beer at the right temperature for the specific type of brew will coax out some of the subtler flavours.
If you are drinking a coffee vanilla beer, the taste of vanilla will be clear, but another coffee beer might have a hint of vanilla that wouldn’t be obvious unless it is enjoyed at the right temperature.
Typically, you can find this on the label.
Where to Find Coffee Beer
Not every great coffee beer is available everywhere. In fact, some of the beers listed here might not be accessible in your part of the world.
However, we can now get our hands on products that were normally out of reach – shipping and travel help with that.
Some coffee beers – like the goose island bourbon county brand coffee stout – can be incredibly hard to find.
These disappointing moments shouldn’t hold you back though. It may be that you just come across it one day (and if you do, try it)!
And, keep in mind that for every coffee beer you can’t access, all you have to do is Google: coffee beer near me and you will find a range of small batch and unique coffee beer combos that you can have.
The Best Coffee Beers to Check Out
There are a lot of great brew masters who make coffee beer.
From larger breweries to small, local craft ones – you can find coffee beer brands that make you do a happy dance.
|Stone Brewing Coffee Milk Stout||
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|Schlafly Coffee Stout||
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|Surly Brewing Co. Coffee Bender||
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|Mourning Wood Coffee Ale||
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|Midnight Sun Brewing Co.'s Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter||
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|Brooklyn Brewery's Intensified Coffee Porter||
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#1 - The Stone Brewing Coffee Milk Stout
There are lots of choices for San Diego coffee beer, and Stone Coffee Milk Stout is a great one.
It has a hint of coffee with chocolate notes – and it’s not as sweet as some milk stouts. It is a gentle taste approach, given that it’s a stout.
This milk stout is made with dark-roasted malts, which offer aromas of coffee and cocoa with a nuanced smokiness. A very malty beer, the flavor of the malt comes through with notes of licorice and cocoa.
They include local San Diego coffee Roaster Ryan Bros’ coffee beans in the mash, and end up with a smooth and light-bodied beer with a semi-sweet and slightly dry finish.
#2 - The Schlafly Coffee Stout
According to local legend, in the 1990s, the staff from Kaldi’s Coffee spent some time at the Schlafly Tap room where they would order a pint of stout and a shot of espresso – which made the perfect pairing.
The two teams decided to make the collaboration official, and the Schlafly Coffee Stout was born.
Using Kaldi’s French roast coffee with Schlafly’s oatmeal stout, the roasted barley and the coffee are the king and queen of this drink.
The brewers use a unique cold toddy extraction process to make a coffee that is less acidic, so even though it is a dark beer, it blends better with the barley and creates a smoother finish.
#3 - The Surly Brewing Co. Coffee Bender
This beer makes the list for many reasons, and the philosophy of Surly Brewing is definitely one of them:
“Make great beer. Have fun. Give a damn about your community. Be independent. Don’t be a dick.”
That’s damn fine life advice.
And it seems logical that anyone who has that kind of wisdom should make a good beer, right? Right!
Especially since the founder of Surly Brewing was so dedicated to brewing beer that he persuaded the Minnesota State government to change an outdated law so he could do so (you can read more about their story here).
Their Coffee Bender beer is made with locally roasted Guatemalan coffee using cold extraction. It’s then added to Bender, the brewery’s oatmeal brown ale.
This coffee beer pours dark brown with a good tan head. It’s smooth drinking with an acidic bite at the end.
For us great-coffee-at-home types, the cold extraction process is similar to making cold brew.
This blend results in the aroma and taste of cold press coffee, with a creamy cappuccino-like texture.
This aromatic brew gives a rich texture with a hint of oats and chocolate that might remind you of sitting in a cafe in Rome (well, a cafe that mixes its cappuccino drinks with beer).
#4 - The Mourning Wood Coffee Ale
Brewed by Local Option in Chicago, Mourning Wood is an amber ale, which is somewhat unique in itself since most coffee beer is darker – like a stout or brown ale.
Finding a coffee beer that is an ale that is this good – and this IS good – is like finding the Holy Grail.
The brewers use fresh American oak for the aging process and El Salvador’s San Jose pulp-natural coffee.
This creates a serious coffee flavor that somehow remains subtle.
And it’s got a funky skull thing going on with the label. Which makes it interesting in a whole different way.
#5 - The Midnight Sun Brewing Co. Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter
Made in the oldest brewery in Anchorage Alaska, Midnight Sun Brewing Company’s Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter is created using a local coffee blend.
This porter is a true marriage of coffee and ale. It creates a robust, yet smooth taste of dark malt and beautifully roasted coffee beans.
It is a delicious beer that sings when paired with foods – for example, it would be a perfect accompaniment to anything chocolate. And we all know that good chocolate and coffee are a match made in heaven.
So it stands to reason that a chocolate and coffee beer would be an even better romance.
#6 - The Brooklyn Brewery’s Intensified Coffee Porter
As the name implies, this beer is intense, complex and delicious.
It starts as a robust, chocolate ale; is aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels, and is then combined with single origin El Salvador beans that have been roasted to perfection.
According to the fine brew masters at Brooklyn’s Brewery, this beer is great for cellaring.
You can pull one out each year to see the shift in taste – pushing the notes of oak and vanilla to the forefront... or perhaps it will be wisps of soy sauce that make themselves known (seriously).
Whether you drink this Intensified Coffee Porter right away or in a year or two, this beer will make a big, tasty impression.
THE VERDICT: Which Is The Best Coffee Beer For You?
Are you a coffee beer (or is it beer coffee?) person? What do you think – are you ready to try one of these coffee beers?
Our top pick – the Surly Brewing Co.’s Coffee Bender – is an excellent example of coffee beer done right. It pours dark brown with a rich tan head and it is both substantial, and light.
It shows what can happen when you blend a great microbrew with the right beans: perfection in a glass.
When it comes to coffee beer, there are more and more choices out there. Next time you see one on your local brew pub’s menu, take a leap and try it.
Hopefully this article helps you to make some decisions on what to try first. Or next.
If you have a friend who is into coffee beer, please share!