78% of the American adult population drinks coffee and 65% drinks alcohol. Of those who drink alcohol, 41% drink beer more than wine and liquor. It’s no wonder that two of America’s favorites have come together to form a powerhouse craft beverage.
Although it seems to have gained popularity in more recent years, coffee beer isn’t a new phenomenon. In 1984, Charlie Papzians’s The New Complete Joy of the Home Brewing notes the first written record of experimentation with coffee beer. Ten years later, New Glarus Brewing Co. was inspired by this homebrew recipe, which combined the flavors of coffee and beer. They became one of the first breweries to release a commercial coffee beer, their famed Coffee Stout. Although it faced a short legal battle due to the argument that caffeine and alcohol should not be mixed, coffee beer was deemed safe and is here to stay.
There are now an overwhelming amount of coffee flavored beer options. In fact, the Untappd app database lists over 10,000 beers made with some coffee component like coffee grinds, espresso, or cold brew.
Porters and stouts are usually a natural fit for the rich coffee flavor, but breweries are also experimenting with brown ales, cream ales, Belgian brews, IPAs, and a variety of other styles.
If you’re looking to stock your bar with coffee beer, we’ve listed 10 of our favorites to get you started. Keep in mind, many of these are seasonal.
1. Founders Breakfast Stout
Rated 99% ‘world-class’ on Beeradvocate and 100% on RateBeer.com, this Imperial Stout is truly top-notch. Founders describes it as “the coffee lover’s consummate beer.” At 8.3% ABV, it’s brewed with flaked oats, imported bitter chocolates, and two different types of coffee. Composition-wise, it has a powerful roasted coffee nose topped with a frothy, copper-colored head. This beer is easy to drink and a popular coffee stout that many of your patrons may be looking for! Available only during September-December, it can be purchased on tap or in 4 packs of 12 oz bottles. Serve this crowd favorite in a snifter glass.
2. Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout
This American Double/Imperial Stout is a heady 9.62% ABV, and it’s sold in 22 oz bottles or on tap. Brewed with “boatloads of roasted coffee,” it’s available mid-winter (January-February). The Beeradvocate crowd rated it 88% ‘very good’ and RateBeer.com gave it a 95% score overall. When poured, it smells like pleasing coffee and has a tan head with a dark coffee body. Serve it in a snifter if on tap and serve with a snifter on the side if you carry it by the bottle.
3. Ballast Point Victory at Sea
This coffee vanilla Imperial Porter is a “bold, smooth brew with just the right amount of sweetness.” Infused with Caffee Calabria coffee from San Diego, the big porter has subtle roasted notes of cold brewed coffee without the acidity, which balances well with its sweet caramel undertones of malt. The Victory at Sea is a whopping 10% ABV. There is a limited availability of 12 oz bottles, 22 oz bottles, and kegs. Beeradvocate rated this beer 97% ‘world-class’ and RateBeer.com gave it a perfect 100% overall. When you serve this beer, be sure to have a shaker or snifter glass on hand.
4. Sixpoint C.R.E.A.M.
The C.R.E.A.M. is a “bright blonde coffee ale” (essentially coffee in your cream ale). This beer certainly is unique. It gets its name from the famous Wu-Tang lyrics. It’s brewed with a blend of two-row, crystal malts, and pilsner! When poured, it has a very fresh one inch off-white head and a copper colored body. It has a crisp and refreshing taste and it has a lighter body than one would expect for a cream ale clocking in at 7.2% ABV. Rated 88% ‘very good’ on Beeradvocate and 67% overall on RateBeer.com, it’s very popular. You can purchase this beer in 6-packs with 12 oz cans and by the keg. Be sure to use a pilsner glass or a shaker pint when serving.
5. Oskar Blues Hotbox Coffee Porter
Based on the malt flavors of creme brulee, caramel, roasted nuts, and cocoa and infused with cold extracted coffee from Ethiopian and Burundi beans, this coffee porter is stellar. Because of the particular coffee that was chosen for this brew, there are hints of dark plums and blueberry, which pleasantly compliments the deep roast, chocolate and slight bitterness. This beer is a bit lighter compared to those previously listed with only 6.4% ABV. Wondering what the popular review sites have to say? Beeradvocate gave it an 88% ‘very good’ and RateBeer.com gave it a 96% overall. This beer is commonly sold in 12 oz 4 pack cans, but kegs can be purchased with rotating availability. If a customer orders this brew, serve it in a shaker or a nonick pint.
6. Sunday Morning Stout
What better way to start a Sunday morning (or end a Saturday night) than with a nice American Double/Imperial Stout? Especially one that’s 11.3% ABV! Aged in bourbon barrels, coffee and bourbon flavors jolt your senses followed by hints of caramel, roasted malt, vanilla, and chocolate. This beer is voted 96% ‘world-class’ on Beeadvocate and 99% overall on RateBeer.com. The Sunday Morning Stout is a Spring seasonal and can be purchased either on tap or in 12 oz bottles. Because it’s a stout, you should serve it in a snifter glass.
8. Cigar City Cubano Espresso
People go crazy for Cuban coffee, so this Cuban-style Brown Ale is sure to be a big hit. Brewed with a heaping amount of espresso beans, cacao nibs, and vanilla, this 5.5% ABV beer gets it done without being overpowering. When poured, it has sweet caramel, toffee, and nutty aromas, and it looks dark brown with a large tan head. This English Brown Ale is scored 91% ‘outstanding’ on Beeradvocate and 98% overall on RateBeer.com. You can purchase it year-round in both cans and on tap. To best serve your guests, use a seidel mug or a shaker.
9. Green Flash Cosmic Ristretto
Talk about out of this world! This revved up, rich black brew will definitely make your customer’s day. Made with smooth espresso and hints of sweet chocolate malts, this 8.2% ABV Baltic Porter has an easy drinking texture and a mellow sweetness. As of last month, it’s now available year-round and can be purchased on draft or in 22 oz bottles. This beer has an 87 ‘very good’ rating on Beeradvocate and is not yet rated on RateBeer.com. Once this is stocked, serve it to your patrons in a shaker, nonic pint, or a seidel mug.
10. Coronado Imperial Blue Bridge Coffee Stout
Both the coffee addict and novice coffee drinker will love this coffee stout. Made with two-row malt, roasted barley, and Guatemalan coffee from their local coffee shop, Cafe Moto, this 8% ABV stout has earthy and sweet chocolate flavors. This beer was released in January as Coronado’s new winter seasonal, so it doesn’t have enough reviews on Beeradvocate or RateBeer.com to have a final score. The Blue Bridge is currently only available in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. If you’re in their regional distribution area and choose to stock your bar with this brew, be sure to serve it in a snifter glass!
Now that you have a solid list of 10 coffee beers to choose from, you should easily be able to stock your bar with stellar coffee beer options. For more information on the correct glassware to use, be sure to check out our Beer Glassware Guide.