Coffee beers are nothing new. Breweries in Colorado have increasingly focused on coffee as an ingredient over the past few years, widening the breadth and deepening the depth of their knowledge — and then producing some seriously geeky concoctions based on the origin, variety and local roaster of the beans.
Denver's Epic Brewing and Longmont's Oskar Blues, in particular, have taken the study of java to a whole new level. Epic's Son of a Baptist series explores the nuances of different roasters across the country by making the same beer with different beans in different regions (see below for details about a special tasting on Thursday, February 8). Oskar Blues, meanwhile, created its own coffee company, Hotbox Roasters, and has used the beans for several different beers, including Hotbox Coffee Porter and Hotbox Coffee IPA.
But 2018 could be a breakout year for the style if November, December and January are any indication of what the next twelve months might hold. Already, a few larger breweries have added major new seasonal or one-off packaged coffee beers, while smaller taprooms have been producing some intense draft-only specialties. Here are some recent examples:
Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora introduced a brand-new canned seasonal release called Coffee Stout in six packs and on draft last month. The 5.5 percent ABV beer was brewed with locally roasted Coda coffee beans and lactose to give it a creamy texture. It should be on the shelves for the next few months.
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project debuted Coffee Baltic Porter in November. The 8.5 percent ABV beer used coffee roasted by Denver's Method Coffee. The beer was conditioned on the beans, giving it a strong coffee flavor with notes of dark sugar, plum and cocoa. It is available in six-packs of cans.
Boulder Beer Company released Irish Blessing, a dark coffee stout brewed with Ozo Coffee and then aged on Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey-soaked oak chips. The 6.2 percent ABV beer showed up in January and should be available in stores in six-packs of cans into March.
Eddyline Brewing in Buena Vista brought back its 14'er Java Stout in January. Brewed with coffee beans from the Buena Vista Roastery, the beer is sold in six-packs of sixteen-ounce tallboy cans.
Avery Brewing in Boulder brought back Tweak, a 15.9 percent ABV imperial stout brewed with Ozo Coffee’s Isabella espresso-roast coffee and then aged in bourbon barrels. It is still available in bottles.
Mockery Brewing released Schizophrenic Narcoleptic, an export coffee stout aged in artisan vanilla-extract barrels. The beer may still be available in bomber bottles.
New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins thrilled fans of both coffee beers and sours by releasing the unusual — and very expensive — La Folie Grand Reserve: Geisha Sour Ale. The 7.9 percent ABV beer blends the much sought-after Panama Geisha coffee from Hacienda La Esmeralda with New Belgium’s award-winning La Folie. Because of its high price, you can still find a few bottles floating around some of the bigger liquor stores.
Other packaged Colorado coffee beers include those from Epic Brewing, Oskar Blues, Weldwerks Brewing, Left Hand Brewing and River North Brewery, among others.
But packaged beers aren't the only coffee-infused specialties available. Numerous breweries have highlighted the style recently, including Copper Kettle Brewing, Odyssey Beerwerks, TRVE Brewing and Cerebral Brewing. Here are a few coffee beers that are available in taprooms this month:
On Tuesday, Upslope Brewing released limited 19.2-ounce cans of Coffee Brown Ale, but only at its Flatiron Park taproom (1898 South Flatiron Court, Boulder). The beer was brewed with Mocha Java from its neighbors at Ozo Coffee Company. The beer should be available for a little while on tap and in cans in the taproom.
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On Thursday, February 8, Epic Brewing will showcase Son of a Baptist, an imperial stout that "focuses on the unique and complex flavors of independent coffee roasters." This year Epic worked with fourteen different coffee roasters from across the nation, and although the variations can only be found on tap or in cans in the local regions that their coffee roasters are from, the brewery will have all fourteen SOBs lined up in Denver for a tasting from 6 to 8 p.m. The event is $8 per person — first come, first served — and will be available to taste side by side this one night only. Epic will also have collection packs of all fourteen canned versions available to purchase, or you can mix and match your own six-pack variations. Come out and experience the nuances of coffee.
The 25th annual Stout Month continues at all five Mountain Sun Pub breweries and restaurants: Mountain Sun, Southern Sun, Under the Sun, Vine Street Pub and Longs Peak Pub. During the course of the month, they will tap 31 different in-house stouts as well as thirty stouts from other breweries. This week, look for Addition Imperial Coffee Stout. Other coffee stouts will be tapped later in the month.
One of the Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project's flagship brews is Turkish Coffee Stout, which is made with Turkish coffee, cardamom and sweet orange peel. The brewery also makes an imperial version on occasion.
Comrade Brewing also boasts a coffee beer among its flagships. Koffee Kreme Extra Stout is a milk stout made with coffee that was custom-roasted by Kaladi Bros. Coffee. It is both full-bodied and sweet.