Coffee and beer – two of the most popular drinks on the planet outside of water. It makes sense that the two combine for an absolute treat that is sometimes acidic and bitter, sweet and chocolatey, or punctuated with tart fruit and an underlying espresso creaminess.
While the coasts are generally lauded for their java and suds, the Midwest is no slouch when it comes to coffee stouts. As someone who’s had many a coffee beer, I can say with a bit of expertise that Rochester’s Forager Brewery has one of the best (listed below). While coffee beers can be golden in color, and a wide range of stouts – and even a delicious, palate-bending IPA from Furthermore Brewing Co. out of Wisconsin – can all have that roasted coffee characteristic, we’ll stick to beers marketed as coffee stouts, and readily available.
Style: Coffee Stout
Flavor profile: Sometimes sweet, acidic, bitter, or giving off a roasted vibe – everything you’d expect from beer. Usually low to no hop bitterness, and low to medium malt sweetness. But those rules are meant to be broken – and have been.
Macro Options: Guinness Extra Stout and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout.
ABV: Varies, but tends to be 7 percent or higher.
IBU: Again, varies, but tends to be lower.
Coffee lagers and cream ales are golden in color, but exert just as much coffee flavor as some coffee stouts. Don’t let the color fool you.
Higher gravity coffee stouts (usually beers with more alcohol in them thanks to the fermentable sugar available in the wort) are usually more common. American craft brewers aren’t afraid of big, bold coffee stouts.
While called an Imperial Stout, neighboring Decorah’s Toppling Goliath’s Mornin’ Delight is one of the most sought-after and best beers containing coffee flavor (as well as maple syrup and chocolate).
Forager Brewing Co.
Sherpas Survival Kit
This beer’s recipe has changed quite a bit since the brewery has opened, but the latest iteration is easily the best. The coffee stout is now blended with a barrel-aged variant, adding toffee, caramel, and butterscotch to the coffee, vanilla, and Dutch process chocolate flavors.
Grand Rounds Brewing Co.
Slow Drip Coffee Stout
This stout – a collaboration of sorts with Café Steam – provides a creamy, medium roast flavor accentuated with just a hint of roasted malt. It should be back on tap soon.
Bent Paddle Brewing Co.
Cold Press Black Ale
Duluth water and Duluth Coffee Co. “Crazy Juice” cold press combine to create a smooth, creamy, slightly acidic yet vanilla-sweet ale. Yes, this is a black ale, but it makes it on this list.
Central Waters Brewing Co.
Brewhouse Coffee Stout
This beer wasn’t a big hit for my taste buds until recently. But with an average price of $5 a bomber, this one is a steal. The coffee flavor stays with you, but isn’t bitter or acidic, allowing some sweetness to shine through. It does lose some points for how thin it is, and is the nadir of this beer oeuvre.