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EYE ON THE BEER: Coffee Beers More Common, Lagunitas, Ruhstaller, and Speakeasy Breweries All High On The List

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- I love coffee, and I love dark beers.   This is about my quest for both.

It began when I was in Chicago recently at The World Famous Billy Goat Tavern.  Being unfamiliar with their beer offerings, I asked what types of beer they had on tap.  The bartender looked at me oddly, gestured to the menu, and answered back in a thick Chicago accent, "We gat beer, and dark beer." I said, "So nothing darker, like a stout or a porter?" He joked, "What, you want me to mix some coffee and beer together or somethin'?"  Yes, exactly.

The Billy Goat is known for its nondescript beer, and as Time Out Chicago puts it, "See, the Billy Goat is not really the kind of place where a patron often inquires about the origins of what's in his glass."

But, Eye on the Beer does, and I was on a search for the perfect beer brewed with coffee.

This exchange was early in my craft beer education, and since then, any beer label referencing real coffee has made it into my pint glass.

Some beers with added flavors are definite misses, but coffee just seems so perfect that it's almost always great.

The name Lagunitas may be synonymous with its ubiquitous IPA, and rightfully so, as it's always an enjoyable go-to beer, that you can find just about everywhere.  When its darker, richer, and more complex stouts find their way to your favorite beer store (admittedly, mine is Costco where I got this for $3,99), you've got to pick a few bottles up.  The coffee roast is there to deepen an already solid stout, with of course, a requisite amount of American hops (this is Lagunitas, after all).  This was one of the first coffee-infused beers I tried.  While the coffee is there, as Lagunitas says in the video, it still tastes like a solid stout, and that was the goal. It's brewed with one pound of Sebastpol's Hardcore Coffee per barrel, freshly ground as it goes into the brew kettle.

Lagunitas | Virtual Taste: Cappuccino Stout by LagunitasBeer on YouTube

ABV: 9.2%
Sold as: 22oz Bombers & Kegs
Net contents: Ounces and ounces of Malt, Hops, Yeast and water.
A limited edition released in fall of 2013 in 22-ounce bottles, the San Francisco-based Speakeasy brewery teamed up with Ritual  Coffee  Roasters to infuse the brew with rich, spicy espresso. This beer is a rich porter, closer to a stout on the spectrum.  The head foams up thick and dark beige, reminding you of the crema on the perfect espresso that went into it. Hopefully, they brew it again soon.
On the serious coffee drinker side of the spectrum is a brew (in both senses) that combines what is absolutely the best coffee I've ever had, with an incredible craft brewery:  The Sauce, by Ruhstaller in Sacramento, combines a light-roast (high caffeine), floral-citrusy coffee from Old Soul with locally-sourced barley and citrusy hops. If you're not a serious coffee drinker, the term "citrus" may seem out of place, but with perfectly brewed, lighter roasts, citrus notes of grapefruit, pomelo, even tangerine hit you, and these compliment the pine and citrus of hops so well.  Old Soul is known for its single-source light roasts packing caffeine and citrus flavors, and Ruhstaller poured plenty of that into this brew. The beer is lighter than a stout, and while they call it a porter, I felt it had more of the feel of a strong ale, with the richness of coffee.  Coffee was the primary force here, and it delivers. Just read the description below and you'll understand.  The sheer volume of coffee in here was astounding, and though I'm known to take a cappuccino as a nightcap, this beer actually had me wired.  Recommended with brunch on a lazy Sunday.
BARLEY | California Metcalf & Copeland
HOPS | Cascade, Columbus & Chinook
IBUs | 46
ABV | 6.5%
Only 20 roasters in the world receive coffee beans from Panama's fabled Los Lajones Estate, where plants grow at 2,000m elevation under the auspices of coffee legend Graciano Cruz.
Lucky for us (and you), Old Soul is one of those 20 roasters. As partners we created The Sauce, a coffee-infused Porter made with Los Lajones Estate coffee.
Production is limited to 230 cases.

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