Who Makes the Best Coffee Beer in BC?

We tasted, rated and savoured some of BC’s many craft coffee beers. Here are our favourites. 

 

In honour of Hopwired Festival—Vancouver’s specialty beverage tasting festival that combines the best minds in beer and coffee—we gathered the ESPRO team to taste, test, compare and comment on the wide selection of craft coffee beers out there. (We needed to get our palates warmed up for the main event on February 23rd, after all.)

There is no shortage of craft coffee beer options in BC—from espresso ales to coffee milk stouts. We selected six interesting options with varying beer and coffee brewing styles and threw in one outside competitor from Portland, Oregon for good measure. 

We gathered a “panel of experts” to smell, sip and share their experience of each beer. While no panel members hold an official tasting designation, they have each dedicated a significant portion of their lives to imbibing both coffee and beer. Our informal ranking process included rating the coffee influence, aroma and overall deliciousness of each beer.  Here’s what our taste buds told us.

Equilibrium Imperial Coffee Milk Stout

Foamers’ Folly Brewing

Pitt Meadows, BC

1st Place, Winner of Best Aroma

Brewed in collaboration with Republica Coffee Roasters, this balanced blend of roasted malt, creamy espresso, rich chocolate, and sweet lactose creates a dark and delicious delight.

What we experienced: Looks like coffee—rich, smooth and creamy. But because of the intense flavur, you wouldn’t want more than one.

From the tasters:

“Smooth and creamy.”

“More stout than coffee.”

“A little acidic.”

Beachcomber Espresso Golden Ale

Tapworks Brewing Co 

Gibsons, BC

2nd Place

Brewed with fellow Gibsons locals, Beachcomber Coffee Co., this brew takes a lighter approach to coffee-infused beer. This rich, oaty golden ale is infused with espresso for a rich aroma reminiscent of cold brew.

What we experienced: The lighter colour tricks the mind into thinking it won’t taste like coffee, but for some, it does. And for others, it does not at all.

From the tasters:

“The bitterness tastes the most like coffee.”

“Tastes like a regular golden ale.”

“You wouldn’t know it was a coffee beer upon looking at it.”

Fourth Wave Coffee Beer Aged in Bourbon Barrels

Breakside Brewing

Portland, Oregon

3rd Place

This beer was brewed with single-origin Stumptown Coffee and aged for 10 months in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels. Instead of a stout or porter with coffee, they sought to create a light coloured, malt-forward, rich-base beer which would dovetail into the nutty, chocolaty and fruity flavours of a lightly roasted coffee.

What we experienced: Fully-executed flavour. Interesting, powerful and conversation-sparking.

From the tasters:

“Smells like Jack Daniels.”

“WOAH.”

“This is a sipping beer.”

“Tastes like they forgot to take the bourbon out of the barrels. In a good way.“

Oldhand Flat White Oatmeal Stout

Field House Brewing

Abbotsford, BC

4th Place, Winner of Most Delicious

In partnership with fellow Abbotsford locals Old Hand Coffee, this creamy, bold and dark flat white-inspired brew has an oatmeal stout base that’s rounded out with lactose and vanilla, then conditioned on whole coffee beans.

What we experienced: Not as much distinct coffee influence, but an easy-drinking smoothness with a hint of vanilla that made for an enjoyable experience.

From the tasters:

“Not too sweet or too much coffee flavour, but still delicious.”

“Lots of vanilla.”

“It doesn’t have a very strong aroma.”

Voltage Espresso Stout

Hoyne Brewing

Victoria, BC

5th Place, Winner of Strongest Coffee Influence

Made with espresso from Habit Coffee in Victoria, this brew pours a deep black with a tan head. The flavour is of roasted malts, chocolate, smoke and a huge espresso hit with a good bitterness.

What we experienced: Effervescent, smooth and smashable, this beer has a strong coffee flavour but is still easy-drinking.

From the tasters:

“The lager of coffee beer.”

“A little thin, but smooth.”

“More bubbly, with a stronger coffee presence than the others.”

Excitation Cacao Nib Espresso Stout

Category 12 Brewing

Saanichton, BC

6th Place

Enhanced with raw cacao nibs and cold-pressed, organic espresso from Level Ground Coffee, this beer has a lower caffeine content than decaffeinated coffee. Pours dark brown, and boasts less bitterness thanks to the cold pressed coffee.

What we experienced: Not as much distinct coffee influence, but a slight sweetness and dryness that make for a delicious and round flavour.

From the tasters:

“It has a dryness to it.”

“It smells sweet.”

“It reminds me of a German-style beer. It has a European hoppiness.”

 

Have you tried an amazing coffee beer that’s not on this list? If so, we’d love to hear about it. Send us a message on Instagram @esproinc or Twitter @espro and tell us why it was so delicious.

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Top 3

1. Equilibrium Imperial Coffee Milk Stout
2. Beachcomber Espresso Golden Ale
3. Fourth Wave Coffee Beer Aged in Bourbon Barrels

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All of our contestants

1. Equilibrium Imperial Coffee Milk Stout
2. Beachcomber Espresso Golden Ale
3. Fourth Wave Coffee Beer Aged in Bourbon Barrels
4. Oldhand Flat White Oatmeal Stout
5. Voltage Espresso Stout
6. Excitation Cacao Nib Espresso Stout

Vedran StevanovicComment