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Two of the most consumed and loved beverages around the world are coffee and beer. But what could be better than coffee or beer? Coffee beer!
If you think about it, coffee and beer have some interesting similarities. They’re both made from great main ingredients, involve brewing, and feature rich flavors that one can’t resist. With coffee beers, you can appreciate how the flavors meld in perfect harmony.
They can also be a great way to improve your day or even start it off on the right foot. In this post, we will list the best coffee beers to start the year right!
Our Top Picks
This Kentucky Breakfast Stout is the flagship of Founders Brewing Co, which debuted in 2002 and quickly became a favorite among beer drinkers. Its best features come from being bourbon barrel-aged to perfection. In 2004, it became the world’s 2nd best beer rated by beer advocates.
One of its fans is Monica Russell, barista, founder, and CEO of Acquired Coffee. She describes it as “Brewed with an intense coffee aroma and flavor, balanced perfectly with chocolate notes and a hint of sweetness. Its smooth, creamy finish makes it perfect for sipping on a cold winter evening.”
Meanwhile, Casey Allen, CEO of Barista Warrior, adds, “Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout uses high-quality Kona coffee beans, and the brewery is known for producing amazing beers.”
Country of Origin: Michigan, USA | Calories: 340 | ABV: 12% | Tasting Notes: Full-bodied, vanilla, cocoa, charred oak
Related: How To Make Coffee Concentrate For Cocktails
Made with Columbus and Willamette hops and six different malts, this Minneapolis coffee beer is dark brown and has just a trace of bitterness. This refreshing beer has distinct and fascinating coffee flavors because it uses Guatemalan coffee.
Because of the English ale yeast, it also doesn’t taste overwhelming. Like an iced coffee, the Coffee Bender is aromatic and satisfying, like a bag of whole coffee beans. Because of its strong coffee notes, we encourage coffee enthusiasts to relax with this drink!
Country of Origin: Minnesota, USA | Calories: 186 | ABV: 5.5% | Tasting Notes: Coffee, chocolate, earthy, light oats
Related: Ale Vs. Lager
This buzz-worthy beer is a coffee stout made by the acclaimed brewers at California’s Firestone Walker, and we can’t get over how smooth it is! It’s brewed with a complex malt mix with equal toasted and sweet parts.
There are significant oatmeal overtones, too, making it an excellent partner to the standard stout. It’s made using HoneyCo Coffee Roasters’ Colombia La Granadilla blend, which complements the chocolaty taste of the cocoa nibs to create an oatmeal stout experience unlike any other.
Country of Origin: Paso Robles, USA | Calories: 170 | ABV: 5.5% | Tasting Notes: Malt, chocolate, smoke, and cocoa
Related: The Best Stout Beers
This ale is loaded with Cubano-style espresso beans, vanilla, and cacao nibs. We love how this go-to beer is dominated by rich coffee aromas and balanced by a smooth malty backbone. It also has sweet caramel and toffee flavors with notes of dry nuttiness.
It pays homage to Cuban culture by using beans from the local roaster Buddy Brew Coffee. This full-bodied drink tastes like a malted milkshake for adults without being overly rich.
Country of Origin: Florida, USA | Calories: 165 | ABV: 5.5%| Tasting Notes: Semi-sweet chocolate, toffee, and a hint of roast
Sixpoint C.R.E.A.M. is a refreshing take on coffee beer—not a roasted coffee explosion, but a blonde brew meticulously balanced with aromatic coffee and a touch of creamy smoothness.
The flavor is fascinating, with biscuit, honey, and a corn-like malt backbone. However, the robust earthy coffee with traces of vanilla dominates the entire flavor. It persists well into the aftertaste after a dry, dusty finish.
Country of Origin: New York, USA | ABV: 7.2% | Tasting Notes: Biscuits, honey, and toasted malt
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We are impressed at how Left Hand Brewing Co. is taking things to a new level in the beer industry and beyond. Left Hand is building a name for itself in various ways, from innovative brewing methods to charitable efforts.
There is a solid reason why the Left Hand Milk Stout is the most widely acclaimed beer in the brewery’s history. Thanks to the combination of milk sugar, malt, and coffee, it has a pleasant flavor profile and a silky finish.
The sweetness of the milk sugar softens a stout’s typically strong flavor. Overall, it’s a well-balanced, rich, full-bodied stout that is almost like chocolate milk combined with cold-brewed coffee—a fantastic choice for easy drinking during winter and fall.
Country of Origin: Colorado, USA | ABV: 6% | Tasting Notes: Dark chocolate, brewed coffee, caramelized sugar
This IPA from Oregon’s Rogue Ales & Spirits will test drinkers who think they’ve tried it all when it comes to pale ale flavors. We love Rogue’s dedication to making robust flavors, and this coffee beer captures their style well.
Each batch of the Rogue cold brew includes 200 pounds of Stumptown Coffee’s cold brew. The opening aroma of this great beer was intensely coffee-like as if you had opened a bottle of coffee instead of a beer. Its flavors were dominated by malt, coffee, and hops.
It is well-balanced and has delicate caramel notes and a slightly roasted flavor. It has a medium body, decent carbonation, and a somewhat dry and sweet finish.
Country of Origin: Oregon, USA | Calories: 222 | ABV: 7.5% | Tasting Notes: Robust malt, spicy and floral hops
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Ten FIDY, named for its 10.5% ABV, is everything we desire in a stout. It is slightly viscous and is pitch-black in appearance with a tan head.
This tasty beer hides a whopping 65 IBUs beneath the silky blanket of malt. It is laden with distinctive flavors of chocolate, caramel, and coffee. It’s brewed using a ton of two-row malt, chocolate malt, flaked oats, roasted barley, and hops.
Its heaviness and thickness make this a sipper. It is balanced well, and its sweet chocolate profile, combined with coffee, makes this very delicious and approachable.
Country of Origin: Colorado, USA | Calories: 315 | ABV: 10.5% | Tasting Notes: Caramel, chocolate, coffee, and malt
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Stone Brewing’s annually released Xocoveza ushers in the autumn and winter months. According to Andrew Latenko, a beer blogger from Chainless Brew, “This stout became iconic after the beer recipe won the annual homebrew competition.”
“Since then, the Mexican stout, inspired by hot chocolate, brewed with coffee, pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate, has entered the brewery’s regular rotation,” he adds.
The fruitiness and slight spice of the peppers warm the aftertaste, while chocolate is there in every sip. This beer is well-received by people, that instead of being released once, it became a yearly special because of the high demand.
Country of Origin: California, USA | ABV: 8.1% | Tasting Notes: Malt, cocoa, caramel, cinnamon
This coffee beer is as dark as night and is thick, rich, and full of authentic coffee taste. It is brewed with a unique combination of beans from around the world created and roasted exclusively for Terrapin by partners at Jittery Joe’s Coffee in Athens, Georgia.
This one-of-a-kind coffee mix provides a solid and tasty brew that we could barely resist making it our breakfast drink! The flavor is dominated by coffee, followed by roast malt and alcohol. It has a modest hop bitterness that complements the dark roast coffee flavors.
It begins sweet and gradually transitions to moderately strong caustic bitterness, accentuated by the medium-high carbonation. The alcohol adds a lovely nuttiness and emphasizes the cocoa highlights.
Country of Origin: Athens, Georgia | Calories: 300 | ABV: 9.4% | Tasting Notes: Chocolate, coffee, and barley
Ballast Point Brewing Company, known for its hop-heavy IPAs, tried something new and experimented. They added coffee to their brewing process, and we couldn’t be happier they did!
Victory at Sea Imperial Porter is a robust, smooth brew with just enough sweetness. This porter is infused with whole vanilla beans and Café Calabria coffee beans from San Diego.
Moreover, the cold-brewed coffee’s light roasted notes and slight acidity mix wonderfully with the malt’s sweet caramel flavor, creating a winning blend for your tastebuds. With ten award victories under its belt, it’s no surprise that Victory at Sea has become such a highly praised beer.
Country of Origin: California, USA | Calories: 300 | ABV: 10% | Tasting Notes: Roasty, chocolate, caramel, and vanilla
Related: The Best Seasonal Beers
Funky Buddha is a young newcomer to the craft brewery market, having been formed in 2010. However, their age doesn’t stop them from taking chances and coming up with ideas, as they did with the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter.
This complex brew has a plethora of flavors at play, conjuring a whole diner-style breakfast in a bottle. The beer exhibits an opaque ebony color with frothy tan foam.
The bottle emits aromas of thick maple syrup, coffee, and cream. Layers of sweet malt, toffee, and roast give way to smoke, coffee, and salty chocolate surges in the mouthfeel. It ends thick, creamy, and sweet, with the maple syrup flavor lingering on the tongue.
Country of Origin: Florida, USA | Calories: 250 | ABV: 6.4% | Tasting Notes: Creamy, malt, toffee, and slight saltiness
Related: The Best Porter Beers
Toppling Goliath Brewing Company is renowned for its IPAs and barrel-aged stouts. They take pleasure in brewing premium beer and are constantly growing because of the worldwide support of its numerous customers.
Their Mornin’ Delight is a huge Imperial Stout with an intense espresso aroma and heavy maple syrup and coffee flavors. It is so amazing that it received the Gold Medal in the non-traditional Imperial Stout category at the 2018 brewing competition U.S. Open Beer Championship.
This beer pours dark brown with enticing aromas and flavors of vanilla, coffee, cocoa, maple syrup, hazelnut, caramel, and fudge. Its thick and creamy mouthfeel also makes it a delightful beer.
Country of Origin: Decorah, Iowa | ABV: 12.8% | Tasting Notes: Creamy, rich coffee, maple syrup, and sweet caramel
Avery Brewing’s Tweak is a wonderfully thick, black bourbon barrel-aged stout with a flavor of roast espresso. It is packed with burnt-barley molasses malts and licorice, with a strong bitterness and robust alcoholic flavor to match.
This heavy stout also has delicious dark chocolate, cherry, and vanilla notes throughout. It’s nuanced, balanced, and all you’d expect from a barrel-aged drink.
We like how it’s potent, yet it doesn’t have the harshness that coffee sometimes has. It’s a tasty combination of chocolate, coffee, and dark fruits, with a hint of sweetness that lingers and makes you want to drink more!
Country of Origin: Colorado, USA | ABV: 14.7% | Tasting Notes: Coffee, bourbon, raisins
Every year, a new coffee from Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea is used to make this exceptional stout. It has an enticing upfront scent of bourbon and vanilla, followed by a strong coffee and roasted malt flavor.
This highly acclaimed stout has coffee and barrel-aged profiles blended with malt sweetness and chocolate. This creates a stunning symphony of flavors that beautifully combines and weaves to offer the best drinking experience.
Country of Origin: Illinois, USA | ABV: 13.2% | Tasting Notes: Coffee, bourbon, vanilla
Related: The Best Bourbon-Infused Coffees
This luscious imperial stout by Epic Brewing Company is aged in repurposed whiskey and bourbon barrels before blending with authentic coffee and cocoa nibs. It features coffee aromas initially, followed by notes of roasted malt and dark chocolate.
This delectable stout combines rich coffee tastes with a nice chocolate flavor to balance it off. There’s a hint of barrel flavor here, but the coffee remains the main attraction. It is a highly wonderful beer with well-executed coffee and a superb balance.
This award-winning stout goes well with hard cheeses, desserts made with dark chocolate, and spicy food.
Country of Origin: Utah, USA | ABV: 11.9% | Tasting Notes: Coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and oak
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The energizing scent of a freshly brewed cup of coffee permeates this rich and expressive award-winning coffee beer. Every pint of this rich Stout is tastefully infused with espresso.
It appears jet black with a thick creamy brown head with notes of roasted coffee and gritty malt. The espresso’s earthy, dark chocolate tastes highlight the beer’s perfect balance.
Country of Origin: Colorado, USA | ABV: 6% | Tasting Notes: Strong, dark coffee, caramel, hot fudge
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This Java Stout is made with a lot of barley malt and a lot of vigorous fermentation, which gives it 8% ABV and a body as thick as a pudding. This is what people consider a reputable stout.
American hops, earthy British hops, black-roasted malts, and coffee add bitter flavors that work well together. It has a heavenly taste and smell that can’t be matched or recreated.
Country of Origin: New Mexico, USA | Calories: 240 | ABV: 8% | Tasting Notes: Coffee, chocolate, malt, and hops
This beer is Belgian-style tripel with coffee, as the name implies. We like how they used green coffee beans or unroasted beans for this, as it makes Tripel Cafe unique. Orange peel is also incorporated into the brew to enhance the flavor.
This tripel has a subtle coffee-like bitterness that complements the fruit and spice flavors that make up the base brew. The fruits, spices, and coffee combine to create a mild and complex bitterness that persists into an otherwise relatively dry aftertaste.
Country of Origin: New York, USA | ABV: 8.8% | Tasting Notes: Coriander, orange, and coffee beans
Alex Mastin, coffee connoisseur and founder/CEO of Home Grounds, comments, “One of my favorites is Guinness Nitro Cold Brew Stout. The added coffee flavor to Guinness is a winning combo, and the darker the roast of coffee, the more flavorful and rich it gets.”
“Combining beer and coffee isn’t for everyone, but it can add a flavorful twist to traditionally flavored beers or stouts. It made Guinness taste much better,” he notes.
Country of Origin: Dublin, Ireland | Calories: 114 | ABV: 4% | Tasting Notes: Sweet and creamy coffee, chocolate, caramel
According to Craig Gunderson, President of Thirsty Bastards, “The ruler of these local Imperial Stouts is Half Acre Brewing’s Big Hugs. This 10% Imperial Coffee Stout offers up aromas of dark chocolate and coffee roast and balanced flavors with low bitterness.”
“I can easily have too many cups of coffee in one day, and Half Acre touts Big Hugs as An Imperial Drinking Stout mindfully groomed for pint glasses, which speaks to its dangerous drinkability,” he adds.
Country of Origin: Illinois, USA | ABV: 10% | Tasting Notes: Raisin, chocolate, toasted graham cracker
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Grant Kneble, owner and one of the bartenders at Freddy J’s Bar & Kitchen, says that this beer is the newest Pumking family member and is a must-try.
“The combination of my favorite beer, Pumking, and smooth cold brew coffee is sensational, and the Nitro adds a layer to the liquid for a rich experience. It pairs well with our brunch fare and smoked food,” he adds.
Country of Origin: New York, USA | ABV: 8.6% | Tasting Notes: Cocoa, baking spices, sweet malt, vanilla
Coffee beers are a new trend that has been making waves in the beverage industry. If you’re looking for a drink that will wake up your taste buds and get you ready to start the day with gusto, these coffee beers are perfect for you!
Which coffee beer are you most excited to try? Be sure to comment below and share your thoughts about these tasty beverages!
Best Coffee Beers Buying Guide
If you’re new to coffee beer, allow the following factors to help guide you in making the right choice:
When choosing a beer, some consumers specifically seek a particular brand or brewery. It’s common knowledge that some producers provide superior goods, whether because of the flavor, the pricing, the style, etc.
Most consumers choose well-known brands because they have come to associate them with credibility and a decreased likelihood of being disappointed. Some consumers, though, may insist on purchasing from “unpopular” brands in the hopes of stumbling onto hidden gems.
Before buying anything from a specific brand, you should familiarize yourself with what the brand stands for. Buying beers from a company you’re familiar with is fine, but trying something new never hurts anyone, either.
Beer Style and Coffee Type
Like regular beer, the coffee beer category comes in a wide variety of styles, including stout, ale, IPA, porter, and more. Coffee beer often comes in stouts or porters, but many small breweries are branching out and trying their hand at craft beers, such as IPAs and cream ales.
Sarah Real, owner and brewster of Hot Plate Brewing Co., says, “If you are adding coffee to a dark beer like a porter or stout, coffee will easily complement the flavors and aromas you’re already expecting and familiar with.”
“For some pale or blonde ales, coffee might add an unexpected note, which can be pleasant, but it would definitely be more of a pleasant surprise when drinking it,” she adds.
No matter the style, brewers usually soak the beans in beer or just water to enhance the java taste. But they make sure to do the acidity sparingly, or else the flavor will taste like another coffee beer style.
And in terms of coffee type, Monica Russell says, “Some beers use a specific type of coffee bean, while others use a blend. The type of coffee used can affect the overall flavor and aroma of the beer, so it’s essential to choose a coffee beer that uses beans that you enjoy.”
It’s to be expected that there will be a wide range of flavor profiles represented in the coffee beer world, depending on the type. The flavor of coffee beer, in general, can range from subtle to robust.
Mild coffee beer usually has a refreshingly crisp, light, and subtle flavor. Meanwhile, a stronger coffee beer has more intense and rich tastes and creamy textures.
A coffee beer could also have a single, dominant flavor that could be classified as basic, or it could have a variety of flavors that work together to provide a nuanced and interesting sensory experience.
Coffee beers’ alcohol by volume (ABV) is typically listed on the bottle or can’s label, and it’s often accompanied by the international bitterness units (IBU), a measurement of how bitter the beverage is.
Beer quality can be gauged in part by its alcohol concentration, which influences the beer’s flavor. Because most beers are designed to be consumed in one gulp rather than savored, the ideal alcohol content is somewhere in the middle.
We’ve included coffee brews with alcohol content ranging from 5.5% to 17.5%. With this, you can choose a percentage that you are comfortable with.
Speaking of labels, Andrew Latenko suggests checking certain things. “It is helpful to check the recipe: 80% water, 20% malt, and hops. There can also be flavorings, like fruit, berry, and herbal. If the label says ‘malt additive,’ it means you’re not dealing with beer at all.”
Additionally, you can check for the number of calories, caffeine, and other nutritional information if you have dietary restrictions.
Like any beverage, coffee beer can be enjoyed more with food. Coffee beers go well with a wide range of various cuisines, from sweet to savory!
Desserts are a no-brainer. For example, pecan pie cheesecake and a smooth, rich coffee oatmeal stout are enjoyed by enthusiasts of coffee beer. You can also try chocolate treats, fruit pies, caramel desserts, and more.
If you like savory dishes, there is no stopping you from enjoying a coffee beer with hearty meals such as a nice plate of rib-eye steak or even fast food like burgers, fries, and pizza. They also don’t fail when paired with aged semi-hard cheeses.
You can expect the prices to vary since there are a few factors that go into the costing, such as ingredients and production. Oftentimes, a higher price can indicate a higher or rarer quality. But that’s not to say that those that are less expensive are not worth buying.
The bottom line is that you’ll purchase according to your budget and preferred type of coffee beer.
Best Coffee Beers FAQ
1. Why was coffee beer invented?
During the brewing craze of the 1990s, numerous new beer styles emerged, including coffee beer. Breweries rushed to meet the rising demand for beer by releasing a wide range of new beers. This resulted in a plethora of new beer and ale varieties, flavors, and colors, sourced worldwide.
Many up-and-coming breweries ditch conventional beer-making practices in favor of experimenting with new ingredients and techniques to carve out a marketable niche.
The exquisite “coffee beer” was one of the beer frenzy’s most notable successes. Throughout the years, coffee beer’s popularity has skyrocketed, and major breweries like Guinness have begun producing their own versions.
2. Does coffee beer taste good?
Whether coffee beer tastes good or not is entirely subjective. However, we will tell you that most coffee beers’ flavor profiles will have these notes – coffee, chocolate, roasted malt, toast, and caramel. If you’re into these flavors, you’ll likely love coffee beer.
3. Do coffee beers have caffeine?
Most coffee beers have caffeine. And even though they contain some caffeine, it is typically much less than what you’d find in a regular cup of coffee. Thus, it’s less likely that you’ll experience the effects of caffeine after drinking coffee beer.
The usual cup of joe can contain about 80-120mg of caffeine. This can be affected by various factors, such as brewing methods and coffee beans. In contrast, a standard 340 ml bottle of coffee beer typically has less than 50 mg of caffeine. Some even have as little as 7.5 mg!
The low level of caffeine is understandable, considering that the coffee is used mainly for flavor rather than for any particular effect. Some brands even apply brewing techniques and use flavorings to mimic the taste of coffee without actually using any coffee at all.
4. Why do stout beers taste like coffee?
Stouts naturally have hints of coffee flavors, and it isn’t because of added coffee but of the grains used. Coffee notes and aromas are brought out in stouts through black malt, roasted barley, malt, chocolate, and debittered dark malts.
There are, however, stouts like chocolate and milk stouts that feature fewer coffee notes because such beers possess a more notable sweetness or bitterness.
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