As far as beer and coffee are concerned, these are two vices that are as different as they are similar. Different in the time of day they’re typically consumed as well as their intended effects – one serving as a stimulant and the other a depressant – yet somewhat similar in their production methods (both require extraction via steeping and roasting as part of their brewing process). And when it comes to flavor profiles, especially darker beers, coffee notes pair well with other complementing notes of chocolate, toffee, and dark fruits.
Ironically enough, some beers don’t even require the addition of beans into the batch to produce such a profile. Instead, the phenomenon occurs during the roasting process where a longer roast of the grains will naturally result in a beer boasting slight coffee notes. Other’s though, work to directly impart these awakening notes on the palate through a direct infusion of coffee beans or grounds into the batch. The process, according to some brewers in the industry, is referred to as the “cold toddy,” method whereas brewers will steep grounds in cold brewing water for up to 48 hours and then blend it with the batch resulting in tasty coffee beer complete with hefty notes of a fine morning Joe. So, with snow days and cold evenings abound, what follows is a list of 20 great coffee beers we feel do their best to warm us up while communicating notes of dark-roasted deliciousness with every sip.
Founders Breakfast Stout
Make no mistake, Founders wants you to drink this coffee-infused stout for breakfast this winter. Think notes of rich the coffee and cocoa, walnuts, brown sugar, and roasted oats in a smooth brew that pours pitch black.
Terrapin Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout
As a general rule, Oatmeal Stouts are the smoother members of the stout family. This offering is no different. Pouring practically black with a creamy head that offers aromas full of caramel, chocolate, and vanilla cream. Naturally, the coffee is there too – pairing well with its malty background that makes this bevy insanely drinkable considering its 9.4% ABV.
Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout
One of the most sought-after yearly releases from Goose Island, this meaty Imperial Stout features a nose full of fresh coffee, chocolate, bourbon, and malt. It’s also incredibly balanced despite the slick and heavy mouthful and boozy notes. A dessert beer without a doubt, Bourbon County certainly doesn’t disappoint year after year.
Heavy Seas Blackbeards Breakfast
With a name like Blackbeard’s Breakfast, you can rest assured Heavy Seas means business with this punchy coffee porter. The head here offers up notes of roasted coffee, vanilla, and stone fruit while a couple sips reveal more vanilla notes, cocoa, toffee and a bit of oak.
Ballast Point Victory at Sea
Taking a robust porter and infusing it with whole vanilla beans and Caffe Calabria coffee beans, this Imperial Porter boasts subtle roasted notes and light acidity complete with the tasty combination of sweet caramel undertones, molasses, spices, and dark fruit. Also, at 10% ABV there’s no doubt this full-bodied American porter will warm you up quite nicely.
Stone Americano Stout
As a legacy craft brewery, Stone makes very little (if any) mistakes when experimenting with different styles. Positioned as yet another success, their Americano Imperial Stout features over 250 lbs. of espresso-roast beans per 120 barrel batch. Meaning, the coffee notes are strong with this one – floral in nature – while roasted malt, chocolate, and a creamy texture make this one enjoyable brew without a doubt.
Rogue Cold Brew IPA
Imagine taking a trusted American IPA and blending it with over 200 gallons of Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ Cold Brew Coffee. Well, heightening your senses is exactly what Rogue had in mind when brewing their Cold Brew IPA – one of the few lighter hue coffee beers available on the market. Here, you’re getting diverse flavor profiles without the heavy mouthfeel of a stout. A must try that’s for sure.
Huss Brewing Koffee Kolsch
First thoughts may lead you to assume coffee and Kolsch belong nowhere near each other. That is until you give this interesting brew from Hess a deserving try. Each pour boasts an aroma full of hazelnut coffee, a palate complete with vanilla, more coffee, and a mild bitterness along with a medium mouthfeel and enjoyable finish.
Left Hand Hard Wired Nitro Porter
Known for their nitro beers, it’s no surprise Left Hand had a go at brewing a nitro coffee porter. It’s also no surprise that they nailed the experiment as well. Offering an enjoyably smooth drinking experience, each pour features a mild sweetness, black coffee notes, and a nutty finish. Certainly one of the more “sessionable” porters around.
Surly Coffee Bender
Surly Brewing has been around for awhile now, and their Coffee Bender is one option that – some say – paved the way for modern coffee beers. Their process? Steep the batch cold for 24 hours in coarse ground coffee beans from Guatemala. The result? An insanely delicious and balanced coffee-forward brown ale brewed for coffee lovers from around the country.
Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Coffee Porter
Someone must have challenged the good folk over a Funky Buddha to emulate a country-style diner breakfast because that’s exactly the tasting notes on this one-of-a-kind brew. Each sip boasts creamy mouthfeel with notes of maple syrup, coffee, and cream that soon give way to a bit of smoke, more coffee, and chocolate with a bit of bacon and maple syrup on the finish. Simply outstanding.
Two Roads Espressway Cold Brew Coffee Stout
Through a proprietary process unique to Two Roads, each Espressway Stout is the product of mixing roasted Ethiopian and Sumatran beans under pressure with their rich oatmeal stout. It’s then steeped for several days to reveal a true cold brew coffee stout complete with notes bitter dark chocolate, burnt molasses, and roasted malts in addition to its very coffee-forward profile.
AleSmith Speedway Stout
Clocking in at a respectable 12% ABV, Alesmith’s Speedway Stout pours about as black as the asphalt with an off-white head. Naturally, dark chocolate and coffee are the two prominent players here as well, complemented by notes of toasted, roasted and caramelized malt flavors to round things out quite nicely.
Epic Big Bad Baptist
Epic is known not to mess around, and with Big Bad Baptist they make no mistake in bringing both mouthfeel and flavor to the table with spectacular results. It’s what you’d come to expect from a formidable bourbon barrel aged imperial stout with coffee and cocoa nibs.
Cigar City Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale
Based on a popular drink in Cigar City’s hometown of Tampa, FL (the Cuban Espresso of course), this rich brown ale features locally roasted coffee beans and imparts notes of dark chocolate, roasted cocoa, molasses, and chilies. Those who like espresso will enjoy the heavy coffee notes on this brew as well as how it’s paired with separate notes of vanilla making it a very drinkable beer any time of year.
Weyerbacher Sunday Morning Stout
As an American Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels, this tasty anytime-stout pours almost black with notes of roasted coffee and bourbon rising through the large creamy head. Upon that first sip, chocolate, roasted malt, vanilla, and caramel make their presence known while good old coffee and bourbon stand their ground through to the very end.
Oskar Blues Hotbox Coffee Porter
Infused with potent, cold-extracted coffee from both Burundi and Ethiopian beans, this American Porter certainly benefits from that little extra care the fine folk at Oskar Blues put forth when brewing this coffee beer. Additionally, the coffee notes here are melded nicely with notes of dark fruit, chocolate, and blueberry.
Elysian The Fix Imperial Stout
Brewed in collaboration with BrewDog, Elysian’s Imperial Stout is a rich, and dark delight made with both Stumptown Coffee and cocoa nibs from Theo Chocolate. The coffee certainly doesn’t hide either – a plus for coffee beer lovers – and is well-balanced thanks to notes of almonds, charred wood, and more chocolate.
Lagunitas Willettized Coffee Stout
If you’re a bourbon fan you probably recognize J.D. Willett’s name in the brand here. That’s because Lagunitas was fortunate enough to get their hands on some of J.D.’s casks and age their coffee stout in them yielding a brew that’s smokey, and full of chocolate, bourbon, and coffee notes to boot.
Bell’s Java Stout
Utilizing a special blend of coffee beans specially roasted just for them, Bells takes each batch of beans to craft one of their most popular stouts. Each Java Stout pours pitch black, exudes aromas of chocolate and coffee, as well as a flavor profile to match with a slightly bitter aftertaste and dry finish.
What's the Difference Between a Stout and a Porter?
While both are dark beers, the similarities basically stop there. So, if you’re looking to learn more, be sure to check out this piece diving into the differences between a stout and a porter.