On most days of the year, coffee is just something to sip while waiting for a socially acceptable time to drink beer. But why separate the two? Coffee and beer are natural companions, and there’s an abundance of breweries mixing the two. The processes range from resting beer on coffee beans, to adding beans or grounds during the brewing process, to just mixing brewed coffee with finished beer. Some methods are better than others (the latter is done almost exclusively by homebrewers), and some breweries are more successful.
We’ve gathered some of our favorite coffee beers on the market, celebrating seven that strike the right balance of flavors. Morning beer fans, consider this our early holiday gift to you.
Huss Brewing Koffee Kölsch
When you think coffee beers, you probably think coffee stouts. Dark beer often has coffee flavors, so the prevalence of dark coffee beers makes sense. But when a light beer meets coffee, it’s heavenly. That’s the case with Huss Brewing Co.’s Koffee Kölsh. It’s a traditional, light bodied Kölsh that’s cold-steeped with caramel and hazelnut coffee beans. It’s refreshing on a hot day, and as comforting as a cup of cold brew.
Left Hand Brewing Company Hard Wired Nitro
Left Hand Brewing has mastered the art of nitro beers, and its Hard Wired Nitro is no exception. It’s smooth with chocolate and toffee and, of course, coffee. The brewery is essentially making cold-brew coffee with coarse grounds, but uses beer instead of water. Making it a nitro ensures that the beer has a velvety feel, and it finishes slightly smoky.
Rogue Ales Cold Brew IPA
Craft beer drinkers can seem pretty obsessive over IPAs. There’s IPA everything, so naturally coffee IPAs exist. Rogue Ales has arguably the best coffee IPA out there. Rogue Ales blends Stumptown cold brew into an IPA made with Rogue Farms hops for a Cold Brew IPA that hits on all cylinders.
Surly Brewing Company Coffee Bender
Want a drink that nails all of the breakfast vibes while still being a tasteful beer? Surly Brewing has you covered. Its version combines locally roasted Guatemalan coffee with Bender, the company’s oatmeal brown ale. The beer is steeped for a full day on coarsely ground beans, creating a gourmet, dark-roasted coffee aroma and taste. It’s like a cold cappuccino poured straight into your beer mug.
Founders Breakfast Stout
Founders Breakfast Stout is one of the most widely available, consistently appetizing coffee beers on the market. It’s brewed with flaked oats, chocolate, and two types of coffee to give it a fresh-roast java flavor. Breakfast Stout is 8.3 percent alcohol by volume, but the alcohol is anything but front and center. Instead, the focus is on smooth-drinking coffee, chocolate, and beer.
Stone Brewing Company Xocoveza
In 2014, Stone Brewing released a beer called Xocoveza that was created by a San Diego homebrewer named Chris Banker. It was a hit, then the beer disappeared. Now Stone has brought it back after a flood of requests over social media. Get this beer — which is inspired by Mexican hot chocolate and filled with cocoa, coffee, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg flavors — before it disappears again. Xocoveza is being released for the holidays in 2017, so stock up and age it for the future.
Two Roads Brewing Company Espressway Cold Brew Coffee Stout
Hop on the fast lane to delicious beer. Espressway is an oatmeal stout with locally roasted Ethiopian and Sumatra coffee beans. Two Roads puts the beans and beer under pressure with what it calls a “brewnik” device — an espresso maker without the steam. The result is a cold-brewed coffee stout that feels light and has tastes of chocolate and coffee.