Coffee Beers: A Continuing Trend

As a bar owner, it should come as no surprise that many customers thoroughly enjoy the combination of caffeine and alcohol. Some patrons may opt for a vodka Redbull, while beer lovers will—no doubt, reach for a coffee beer.

A subsection of the craft beer industry, coffee beer is usually made with the base of a porter or stout. Lately, however, the industry has been slowly branching out into IPA’s and cream ales. The following are a few facts you should know about this continuing trend, and how to get your hands on some for your establishment.



The coffee beer trend has been around since the early 90’s, when people began to add roasted grains to beers that already had coffee flavor profiles. There are some mysteries surrounding the exact origin, but one of the earliest commercial products was created by the New Glarus Brewing Company, in New Glarus, WI. It is known as the famed coffee stout, and was released in 1994. The new brew went on to win awards in the mid 90’s for ingenuity and innovation.

Soon after, the New Glarus brewery was forced to halt production under the legalities of packaged alcohol and caffeine. One of the greatest mysteries in the coffee beer industry, is exactly who fought the legal battle to restart production. Either way, it is perfectly lawful, and is becoming increasingly popular by the year; as new breweries are inventing individual styles.



Coffee beers are made several different ways. Some brewers steep the beans in beer or water to import the flavor of the coffee, without adding the acidity. Others add the grains straight into the fermenter. Stout is generally paired best with coffee, as it contains roasted barley, which has the same flavor profiles.

The ability to cold steep the beans allows a brewery ample time to taste test the brew, and perfect the flavor. Because coffee beers have such a wide range of styles, their alcohol content varies, as well as the body, and finish length. Barrel-aged versions may show hints of sherry and other advanced flavors.



Coffee beers range in color form pale to black, and they can be brilliant to opaque in clarity. In fact, one of the only things these beers may share in common, is the fact that they contain coffee. Coffee beers should be served in a nonic pint glass. It is similar in shape to a regular pint glass, but slightly bulges out an inch or so from the top. Coffee beers should always be served at 50-55°, and they pair beautifully with pork loin, aged cheeses, and vanilla ice cream.


Popular Selections

The following are a few popular selections on the market, that you can begin your coffee beer journey with:

  • Panama Joe’s Coffee Stout
    Il Vicino Brewing Company
    This beer is so dark, it’s almost black in color, and has a thin, light brown head. Although light bodied, it has a definite sweetness, and a full mouth feel. The flavor notes include caramelized malt and dark cocoa.
  • Barrel Aged Sump Coffee Stout
    Perennial Artisan Ales
    Thick and dark, this beer practically pours no head, but makes up for the lack of froth in deep and rich flavor profiles. Full bodied, the Barrel Aged Sump contains low carbonation, and is a very solid coffee stout. With a hint of rich dark chocolate, the beer has a light coffee flavor, that isn’t overpowering.
  • Icon Blue
    St. Arnold Brewing Company
    This beer is made by adding freshly roasted and ground beans straight to the fermenter. Icon Blue requires 45 pounds of espresso beans to make, and has a pleasant aroma of chocolate and mocha.


The Future

Brewers have now begun to team up with roasters and coffee shops as a means of local sourcing, and also genius collaboration. Uppers and Downers is an festival in Chicago, solely devoted to this venture, and various creations involving coffee can be discovered at every table. As patrons become more concerned with where brewers are sourcing their ingredients from, pairing up with roasters is the perfect marriage to the modern consumer, and is great for business!

If you decide that you would like to start stocking a coffee beer in your bar or restaurant, informing your public is the first step. It takes more than just tapping a keg, to introduce a new flavor to your community. TapHunter is a tool you can use to send out social media blasts to all of your channels, get notifications to your patrons, and post your new drinks on digital menus straight from your TV. Promoting your new beer properly, and having a firm knowledge of the flavor profiles, will ensure you have success with any style of coffee beer you choose.

Bars and Restaurants – Want to save hours daily, drive thirsty patrons through your door and create an engaging experience for your customers? Learn more about how TapHunter can help your business today!