9 Coffee Beers with Unconventional Base Styles

For an alternative to the standard coffee stout, try these coffee beers with unconventional base styles.

Emily Hutto Mar 24, 2016 - 5 min read

9 Coffee Beers with Unconventional Base Styles Primary Image

Coffee stout seems to be an omnipresent offering among American craft breweries, but generally speaking other beer styles are rarely used as the base of coffee beers—that is, until recently. For Issue 12 (April/May 2016) of_ Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®,_ I discovered several coffee beers with unexpected beer styles—from brown ales to IPAs to red ales and even lighter styles such as Kölsch. Try these nine coffee beers with unconventional base styles.


Java The Hop
Fort George Brewery (Astoria, Oregon)

This seasonal IPA is created with a single coffee bean—Gichuna coffee from the Kiambu East District of Kenya, sourced by Coava Coffee Roasters. It’s single-hopped with Simcoe hops for aromas of passionfruit, apricot, and pine.

Aleman/Two Brothers/Stone Dayman Coffee IPA
Collaboration among Aleman (Chicago, Illinois), Two Brothers (Warrenville, Illinois), Stone Brewing Company (San Diego, California)


This style-bending IPA marries the tropical bite of Citra hops with coffee flavor and aromatics from Two Brothers’ freshly roasted coffee beans (a recent innovation of theirs). The result is an innovative IPA that is well balanced and intensely flavored.

Cold Brew IPA
Rogue Ales (Newport, Oregon)

Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ cold-brew coffee is blended with an IPA made using Rogue Farms Liberty, Rebel, and Freedom hops. The rich coffee aroma is balanced by a bold hoppy punch.

Brown Ales and Porters

Heritage Coffee Brown Ale
Alaskan Brewing (Juno, Alaska)

In 2015, Alaskan Brewing Company debuted the Heritage Coffee Brown Ale as part of its Pilot Series. Not only is the base of this coffee beer an often-forgotten style in conversations about coffee beer, the method by which brewer Tyler Lindquist adds the coffee is unique. He does so through the malting process. Alaskan worked with Juneau coffee roaster Heritage Coffee, where they roasted some of their pale malt with coffee right in the coffee roaster.

Coffee Bender
Surly Brewing Co. (Minneapolis, Minnesota)


In Surly’s typical bold style, this coffee beer is big in both roastiness and hoppiness. Guatemalan coffee is added to the brewery’s oatmeal brown ale to create this creamy, cappuccino-like brew.

Oak Cliff Coffee Ale
Deep Ellum Brewing (Dallas, Texas)

Deep Ellum sampled Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters’ cold brew and found the Carmen bean from Panama especially complemented Deep Ellum’s brown ale. A cold-brewed batch of coffee was added to the brown ale during transfer from fermentation vessel to bright tank.

Red Ales

Lava Java
Aslan Brewing Co. (Bellingham, Washington)

This collaboration between Aslan Brewing Co. and Bellingham Coffee Roasters combines the bright, critrusy, and acidic flavors of lightly roasted coffee beans with the dark stone fruit flavor of Aslan’s Northwest Red ale.

Imperial Sunday Morning
Renegade Brewing Company (Denver, Colorado)

This big red coffee ale weighs in at almost 9 percent ABV. Sunday Morning, a favorite in Renegade’s tasting room, is amplified with roasted coffee from nearby Novo Coffee. After fermentation, this imperial red is infused with cold-press coffee that gives a bright nose to this malty brew.


Laimas Coffee Kölsch
FATE Brewing Co. (Boulder, Colorado)

An unexpected coffee beer style is Kölsch, which is getting a coffee addition at FATE Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado. Jeff Griffith, FATE’s head brewer, says that he and his team tried twelve different coffees before landing on the particular bean, a single-origin Ethiopian variety, that gets cold-pressed and added to their award-winning Laimas Kösch in secondary fermentation. “This variety is fruitier than most coffees and goes well with the malty style. I think it provides a nice sweetness and adds some body too. It definitely gives it a smooth mouthfeel.”

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