Tap This: Adding a little coffee flavor is one of the most popular current trends for craft beer
Although craft beer has many trends that ebb and flow, there is one that is on a noticeable incline: beer with coffee. While adding coffee to beer is by no means a new idea, it was typically reserved for darker beers such as stouts and porters, but it has now spilled into other popular styles most noticeably IPAs.
Some may view adding coffee into beer as a bizarre feat, however if one thinks about it a bit more, it makes complete sense. As the palate adjusts to craft beer it begins to examine tastes more in depth and becomes more sensitive to off flavors in other food and beverages. This in turn leads to higher demands from all beverages, including coffee.
The naturally sweet and bitter tastes of higher quality coffees add a wonderful depth of flavor to an array of beer style, but is a natural fit with darker beers whose malts provide subtle coffee flavors already. Adding coffee to hop forward IPAs may sound a bit more strange, however when you keep in mind the previously mentioned qualities of great coffee the flavors are a natural fit with sweet and bitter flavors of a world class IPA.
There are an array of great craft beers with coffee flavors within, so if you are intrigued by this combination here is a short list of some great must try coffee infused beers.
Terrapin Beer Co.’s Wake-n-Bake: This is a true classic in the stout category and the huge coffee nose and taste is just one of the many reasons this beer is so beloved. This imperial oatmeal stout has a huge hit of freshly brewed coffee making this a great beer to have with brunch. Not only is this one of Terrapin’s most popular beers, but they also produce an array of variants with it as well. French Toasted Wake n Bake is one of the best where Wake-n-Bake is enhanced with maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon, it tastes just as good as it sounds! This year the brewery released Cinnamon Roll’d Wake-n-Bake which adds cinnamon with cream that is a wonderfully sweet treat to end any dinner.
Kane Brewing’s Sunday Brunch: Kane has taken the New Jersey beer scene by storm with its world class beers. Sunday Brunch is one of the most sought after and in turn, most difficult to find. However, if you can find a bottle the rewards are great. This imperial milk porter is given a hefty dose of fresh coffee, maple syrup, and cinnamon to create one of the most easy drinking imperial beers you will ever enjoy.
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery’s Sidamo Coffee Stout: A Russian Imperial Stout is a unique style in the big ABV with roasted malt flavors and subtle dark red fruits make these great beers to age gracefully. However, the addition of freshly roasted and locally roasted coffee from Hardywood is its Sidamo Coffee Stout. This is a beer that is great to enjoy fresh to fully unlock the huge coffee aromas and flavors. It’s a fairly complex coffee stout with a rich Ethopian coffee that imparts subtle blueberry notes with bright citrus that perfectly compliment the hops. It truly makes for a wonderful compliment to the rich roasted malts. Also, if you are looking for an even more complex version of this beer be on the lookout for the bourbon barrel aged variant!
Ballast Point Brewing Company’s Victory at Sea: The 10% ABV is completely hidden in this world class imperial porter. Freshly roasted coffee and vanilla dominate the flavor and aromas, but backing notes of sweet chocolate and caramel round out the experience. Victory at Sea is a very much sought after seasonal beer from Ballast Point and is a perfect beer for cold winter evenings. The popularity of this beer also spawned a few spins on the style. First, the brewery recently released a version of Victory at Sea with peppermint that has a very interesting twist on this classic beer. Also, they released a summer version of this beer that was first released in 2015 with Calm Before the Storm which is a much lighter, 5.5% ABV, cream ale with fresh coffee.
Ithaca Beer Company’s Java Power: This is the newest beer on the list and was first released in the latter part of 2015 to rave reviews by many. Ithaca has built up a strong following for its Flower Power IPA and taking that as the base and adding a hefty dose of coffee sounds like a perfect idea. The balance of floral and citrus hops seems right at home with freshly brewed coffee. The sweet notes are perfectly balanced and the coffee does not overwhelm. One sip of this and you will wonder why more breweries aren’t brewing coffee IPAs!
Whether you are a fan of craft beer or a coffee snob these beers are perfect for you. The winter is also the best time to try these beers, because nothing is better than a fresh brewed coffee or warming high ABV beer on a cold night
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.