Photo: familynight, Flickr
After all, why should whiskey and sambuca have all the fun when it comes to coffee?
Read more about coffee beers after the jump.
The most commonly caffeinated brews are stouts and porters -- roasted coffee's semisweet smokiness is a natural complement to rich, dark and heavy beers. One of my favorite coffee-tinged grogs is an organic porter from Vt.'s Wolaver's, the Alta Gracia Coffee Porter. Brewed with coffee grown on a nonprofit farm in the Dominican Republic and infused with vanilla beans, this beer is smooth, creamy and sweet, with just the right amount of dark-chocolate-like bitterness.
Darker-roast lovers might prefer Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout from Japan's Kiuchi Brewery. This almost-jet-black imperial stout has an incredible toastiness upfront and a heavy, coating mouth feel -- just like that first ultra-strong cup of joe that gets you going in the morning. (Though we don't advocate starting the day with a cold one, even if there is espresso in it.)
Lighter beers, like Peak Organic's crisp Espresso Amber Ale, are sometimes a better showcase for the coffee element itself, since the beans don't have to compete with the already-intense base a stouter beer has. The Maine-based brewery uses beans from their state mates at Coffee By Design, and the resulting ale is America's first Fair Trade-certified beer.
For an extra-special brew, some coffee roasters join forces with local breweries to create unique, often seasonally specific batches. Brooklyn's Gorilla Coffee has linked with the borough's Sixpoint Craft Ales on a collaboration called Gorilla Warfare; while my comrades at Counter Culture Coffee put their heads together with Carolina Brewery for the latter's Jumping Bean Coffee Stout.
Do you have a favorite coffee beer? Have any of your local coffee roasters teamed up with brewers in the area? Tell us in the comments.
Erin Meister trains baristas for North Carolina-based Counter Culture Coffee and sporadically maintains the blog Meet the Press Pot from her home in New York City. This is part of a series for the caffeine-addicted.