Coffee and beer are two of America’s most beloved beverages. Put them in the same cup, and you have a match made in tastebud heaven. People all over the world, especially in America, are falling in love with the coffee-infused or coffee-flavored beer.
A lot of craft breweries are optimizing on the coffee beer movement. And, in the coffee world? We couldn’t be happier about it! When you’re looking to relax with a delicious stout, but you can’t get enough of the rich coffee flavor, there’s nothing better than a simultaneous sip of both.
In this article, we’ll give you a little info about coffee beers, and we’ll even introduce you to some of our favorites that you can try out for yourself.
(Always drink responsibly. Don’t consume alcohol under the age of 21, and never drink and drive.)
Why do coffee and beer work together?
The “trends” of craft beer and coffee shops began to emerge around the same time, and they often have overlapping followings and fan bases. That’s because coffee and beer aren’t all that different:
- First of all, coffee and beer are both delicious. There’s something about the way they dance on the tongue that’s absolutely divine.
- They’re both aroma-driven. The smells of coffee and beer are half the reason for enjoyment.
- They have a lot of similar flavors. They can take on different notes, from chocolaty to citrusy and nutty to fruity, and so on. Because of these different tastes, coffee-beer artisans have a lot of room for experimentation with flavor combinations.
- Both require roasting. Whether you’re heating coffee beans for a dark brew, or grains for an ale, these beverages require a natural harvest with a gentle, roasting process.
You can taste the difference between high-quality coffee or beer when compared to lower-quality ones, and it’s tough to find decent local sources. That’s why Eldorado has made such a name in the coffee circle. We source from authentic, small farms in coffee-rich areas, but we do all our roasting and packaging at home, in New York. Our coffee is the freshest it can be, which makes for a delicious brew, each and every time.
We’re fortunate that our roastery is here in Queens, NY, because there are so many incredible craft breweries nearby that we can partner with, to create local, authentic, and scrumptious coffee beers.
It’s easy to see why there are passionate followings for coffee, for beer… and for coffee-flavored beer!
What are coffee beers?
There are a number of ways to make coffee beer, and each brewery will take its own approach. Some brewers add dry coffee grounds into the grain during the fermentation process, to create a complex infusion. Others add a small cup of cold brew coffee to a brewed beer after fermentation.
One of our favorite methods is that for making cold beer-brew coffee. This provides double the “coffee-ness,” to create a rich flavor and aroma. Brewers steep coffee grounds in cold liquor (a.k.a., brewing water) for 24-48 hours. This lets the brewing water take on the flavor of coffee. Then, the brewing water is added back into the beer. This helps minimize excess water, while infusing it with coffee for a smooth, rich finish.
Why cold brew?
Hot-brewed coffee can often become astringent with almost a rubbing alcohol flavor. Cold brew coffee has a slow extraction process, using cold water for 16-24 hours. This creates a concentrated brew, so there’s less water to interact with the beer. This also brews the coffee with less acidity, which doesn’t impact the flavor of beer as much. Plus, cold brew generally has a smoother essence that pairs nicely with ale’s strength.
What kinds of beers are used for coffee beer?
The deep flavor of coffee pairs beautifully with dark malt beers, like porter and stout. The bitter taste of coffee actually accentuates the malt flavor, which is why you’ll usually see “OG” coffee beer made with stout and porter.
In the past five years, though, brewers have been getting a little more creative with their coffee beer. Ending the 15-year reign of stout and porter as the base for coffee beer, brown ale and pale ale beers started to appear more in coffee beer pairings. Some breweries have even tried out the unique (and delicious) combo of coffee and cream ale.
Does coffee beer contain caffeine?
Yes, coffee beer contains caffeine… but only in very low amounts. Most brewers use a much higher ratio of beer to coffee (because the beverage is labeled as a beer, first and foremost). A typical ratio might be a 31-gallon barrel of beer to a cold brew that’s extracted from just one pound of coffee beans. The purpose of the coffee in the beer is to get an under-note and aroma of coffee, not to get your coffee fix for the day.
In general, one glass of coffee beer will have the caffeine equivalent of about a sip or two of brewed coffee. So a shot of our Havanero espresso contains more caffeine than your entire six-pack.
If you’re watching your caffeine intake, coffee beer won’t have a major effect, but it doesn’t hurt to ask the brewer, just in case.
Just a few coffee beers to try…
Local coffee beer
We recommend trying out a brewery near you, if there’s one nearby. Our mantra is that local is better. The beauty of coffee beer is that it’s an artisanal drink. Half the fun is experimenting with something new, made by a brewer who likes to play around with flavors and aromas. You can also experiment with food pairings to bring the whole experience together!
If you’re lucky enough to live near a brewery that offers coffee beers, make the trip for a tasting.
Milk stout: Mocha Merlin by Firestone Walker
The Mocha Merlin is one of the most unique coffee stout beers we’ve tried. It pairs cocoa, coffee, and oatmeal stout for a rich, dessert-esque drink. This beer has a concentration of espresso, which pairs beautifully with the mocha and spices in this California-brewed beverage. Sip on this as an after-dinner treat for a creamy, chocolaty delight.
Brown ale: Cubano-Style Espresso by Cigar City
This Cubano-Style Espresso brown ale pairs with dark roast coffee for a velvety, strong brew. It’s surprisingly sweet, with hints of caramel, toffee, cocoa, and vanilla—paired with a Cuban smoky flavor that your tastebuds will adore. We’re huge fans of Cubano-style espresso, so this pairing with top-notch ale is a match made in java heaven.
IPA: Cold Brew IPA by Rogue Ale
Rogue is an Oregon-based brewer, and they’ve created a masterpiece with this infusion of cold brew and pale ale. The smooth taste of the cold brew mellows the bitterness of the hops, creating a full and complex flavor palate. The Rogue Cold Brew IPA pairs perfectly with a charcuterie board of meats and cheeses.
Cranknbrew by Snowbank Brewing
This Cranknbrew coffee beer puts coffee at the forefront—which we love. It’s chock-full of dark roast coffee, with a milder caramel flavor that doesn’t taste like your typical pale ale. This brew is more sweet than it is bitter, and the coffee overshadows the beer. It’s perfect for the coffee-flavored beer enthusiast, who wants to enjoy their morning brew all day (or all night!) long.
Coffee beer conclusion
Want to try coffee beer for yourself? Check to see if your local brewery sells coffee beer! Or even better,try out the brewing process yourself! It takes a little practice, but it’s a fun hobby that you and your friends will love.
Get more info and stay updated with all things coffee with the Eldorado blog!