Coffee Beer: A Complete Guide
Many people want to unwind after a long day with a cool beverage or two. Beer is a popular choice, but those of us who love the taste of coffee crave something with a bit more caffeine. With coffee beer, you don’t have to choose. Keep reading to learn more about it and how it’s made.
What Is Coffee Beer?
After covering many ways to brew coffee, we thought we’d seen it all. From your classic cold brew coffee to nitro cold brew, we’ve explored plenty of ways to enjoy this delicious drink. But then we found coffee beer.
With an average alcohol content of around 4 to 5% and low levels of caffeine, coffee beer is a refreshing caffeinated alcoholic beverage to unwind with after a long day.
A Little History
In the 1990s, US breweries — like Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, New Glarus Brewing, and Redhook Brewing — released their first coffee-infused stouts (1). And after the public, quite literally, drank up this new combination, other breweries followed suit. In 2022, Guinness even introduced a nitro cold brew coffee stout to the UK market. Adam Cieslak, head brewer at Maplewood Brewery explains the appeal of coffee and beer.
There’s a ton of varieties of beans and a ton of methods of roasting those beans, which results in a wide range of flavors. This allows coffee to be successfully worked into just about any style of beer.
As far as we can tell, this boozy, caffeinated combo isn’t going away anytime soon. People of all generations love their beer and coffee. Craft stout commands a global market of US$623 billion, and craft porter is another US$108 billion. Add that to the growing popularity of specialty coffee, and you have a recipe for beverage success (2). In fact, specialty coffee wine is beginning to trend.
Millennials and Gen Z are driving the growth of this drink. They are passionate about specialty coffee and craft beer and are willing to pay a premium price for beverages like Starbucks’ nitro cold brew, a coffee drink with a Guinness beer-like texture.
Check out this video for a look at the intersection between specialty coffee and craft beer:
How Is Coffee Beer Made?
Coffee beer, whether it’s a porter, stout, or lager, is brewed in one of two ways (3). And no, they don’t just mix coffee and beer together in a bottle.
One option is for craft beer brewers to roast various types of grain to mimic the slightly bitter, complex, sweet notes of brewed coffee.
The lager, porter, or stout is flavoured with these coffee-flavoured grains but contains no actual coffee or caffeine.
The second method of making this drink involves adding coffee to the whort, the liquid containing simple sugars from the roasted wheat, during the mash or fermentation stages. While you can use brewed coffee in this drink, many breweries prefer to blend the sweet, smooth flavours of a cold brew concentrate with the dark, chocolaty flavours of a porter or stout.
If you need an after-work drink that won’t leave you too jittery from caffeine or buzzed from booze, coffee beer is the perfect choice for your happy hour. Pair it with a hearty steak-and-potatoes dinner or with swicy —sweet and spicy — wings to end any day on an uplifting note.
Have you tried this beverage? Do you prefer coffee stouts or porters? Drop us a comment below, follow us on Instagram, or connect with us in our Home Grounds Facebook group.
Yes and no. While some coffee beers contain actual coffee, others only mimic the flavour of coffee with various types of dark-roasted grain. To determine the caffeine content in any beverage, it’s always a good idea to read the label and enjoy it responsibly.
Porters and stouts are the types of beer most often used to make coffee beer. Porters are sweeter and used to make coffee beers that taste more like mochas. Stouts are more bitter and yield coffee beers that enhance a coffee’s natural bitterness. Either way, you’ll find coffee beers have a full-bodied mouthfeel and rich taste.
Yes, you can make coffee beer at home. If you brew homemade beer, combine it with a high-quality cold brew concentrate during brewing. Or you can make an easy coffee beer cocktail. Simply combine a 1:1 ratio of cold brew concentrate, or nitro cold brew, with a cold porter or stout of your choice.
- Noel, J. (2018, October 2). Why the intersection of coffee and beer has become a dominant force in craft brewing. Chicago Tribune. https://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/drink/ct-food-coffee-beer-1010-story.html
- Chee, C. (2022, March 14). Beer Industry Statistics & Facts for 2022. Truly Experiences Blog. https://trulyexperiences.com/blog/beer-industry-statistics/
- Holl, J. (2020, November 5). How Beer Is Made. Wine Enthusiast; Wine Enthusiast. https://www.winemag.com/2020/11/05/how-beer-is-made/