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Wednesday, February 13th 2013

(Sixpoint Brewery)

The crew at Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Craft Ales reached double figures in canned brews with the release of 3Beans in January 2013.  Based on some of the commentary out there on some of the social beer drinking websites and apps, some drinkers expected a stout while others thought they were drinking a straightforward coffee porter.  Wrong again folks:  the Mad Scientists at Sixpoint have created yet another brew that defies strict style categorization.  

From the Sixpoint site:

"Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans...and put them into one vessel. The beans of bygone brewers, united with cacao and coffee, to create a trinity of roasted, rich, and savory flavors."

Here we go...

Pour - the pour out of the can is a deep, dark black with a tan, loose, and big-bubbled head.  Aroma is of dark grains, berries, and a wisp of coffee.  Every now and then some soured fruits and alcohol pierce through.  

Aroma - dark fruits, cocoa, faint dark roast coffee grounds, plenty of dark malts.

Taste - First sip impression:  this is very different, and in a very good way.  What starts as a fairly thin bodied, bubbly coffee porter on the palate changes almost immediately to a tongue-coating, medium bodied chocolate-vanilla brew more reminiscent of a stout.  The vanilla was so prevalent on my palate that I was sure it was the 3rd bean that went into the boil (like many free-thinking beer drinkers, I avoid research and reading other reviews until after I’ve reached the bottom of the glass).  According to the 4-pack carrier, it turns out the vanilla is not from a 4th bean – its presence comes from aging on oak.  The chocolate and coffee come from cacao husks and, well, coffee beans.  We must guess that the sudden change in body and mouthfeel is attributed, at least in part, to the Romano beans that joined the malt in the mash.  Yes, Romano beans – the flat Italian beans that you’re much more likely to find in a summer salad than your daily beer.  An interesting fermentable/adjunct to say the least! 

Overall - we’ve mentioned it before in some reviews and this beer cues us to mention again:  good surprises are really good, and bad ones are really bad.  Considering I went into this expecting a fairly standard coffee porter, this was one of those really good surprises. 3Beans is a unique, flavorful and delicious brew. While the coffee flavor is fairly fleeting, the vanilla and chocolate flavors are smooth, rich and warm. The sudden shift in flavor profiles makes every sip an experience, as though you’re drinking two (or three) beers in one. 3Beans is recommended if you like the unique brews from Uncommon Brewers, Brewery Vivant, 21st Amendment, or any other beer that leaves you thinking “what was that?” and “I want another one!”

Note - we’re looking forward to craft can #11 from Sixpoint – Harbinger  – a farmhouse ale (though we suspect they’ll add their usual unique twist to the style) currently slated for release in the spring of 2013.  While we wait for the next great release, check out their well-produced video on the making of 3Beans and how Hurricane Sandy tried to get in the way:


Coffee Scale:
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Style: Baltic Porter
Brewery: Sixpoint Craft Ales
Brooklyn, New York  
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 9.9%
IBUs: 85
Date: February 13th, 2013

Posted by Trent

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Sunday, November 27th 2011

Redband Stout
(Great River Brewery)

Great River Brewery out of Davenport, Iowa has continuously made us happy with each of their canned releases thus far. We were pretty excited when we heard they were canning a coffee stout and equally excited when we actually managed to get our can-loving paws on some of it. This one comes highly touted so we can't wait!

From the Great River Brewery site:

"We love our local roaster’s New Orleans Iced Coffee so much we decided to use their beans in our brew. Redband Stout is made with Indonesian and Ethiopian beans using our 18-hour cold brew extraction method, resulting in a satisfying brew with intense coffee aromatics. The marriage of two of our favorite beverages."

Here we go...

POUR: pitch black, looks just like fresh-brewed French roast was poured into the glass leaving a nice, earthy-colored foamy head. 

AROMA: you haven't smelled a great coffee stout until you've held a glass of this up to your nose. Wow. So much aroma of fresh roasted coffee beans, vanilla, toffee and dark chocolate malts. This definitely comes across like a coffee milkshake. Creamy, sweet with tons of bitter, coffee aromas. Absolutely incredible.

TASTE: Redband hits the palate with a taste that's smoother than a jazz song playing in your dentist's office waiting room. This is quicksilver laced with coffee gliding down your throat. Tons of great dark roast coffee flavors along with a creaminess that definitely makes this come across as the best iced coffee we've ever had! Roasty, toasty flavors without a huge ABV masking the great profiles of the malt and the hard to produce "actual" coffee taste ("18-hour cold brew extraction method"). Not the easiest coffee stout to get your hands on but if you do you will NOT be let down.


"Redband hits the palate with a taste that's smoother than a jazz song playing in your dentist's office waiting room. This is quicksilver laced with coffee gliding down your throat."

OVERALL: hands down one the best coffee beers we've ever had, be it in a can or otherwise. Such strong coffee flavors that meld so well with a equally well-produced stout. Great River Brewery has yet to do anything but impress. Very, very, very well done!

NOTES: there are a few other coffee stouts available in cans nowadays. The first to be released was Surly's Coffee Bender in late 2008. Santa Fe Brewing also released their Imperial Java Stout last year. Word is Good People Brewing down in Alabama will eventually release their Coffee Oatmeal Stout. We'll keep an eye out for that and any other coffee beers that come to cans. Cheers!

other canned coffee beers worth checking out...

Coffee Scale:
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Can Scale:
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Redband Stout
Style: American Stout
Brewery: Great River Brewery
Davenport, Iowa  
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 6.0%
IBUs: 36
Date: November 27th, 2011

Posted by Russ

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Tuesday, March 21st 2011

Imperial Java Stout
(Santa Fe Brewing Company)

One of only a handful of canned coffee beers currently available in the US and this being one of the strongest on offer. Imperial Java Stout is Santa Fe's winter seasonal release. It's high alcohol content, rich taste and strong coffee aroma make this one a real winner. We'd love to see more canned coffee beers in the future.

From the Santa Fe Brewing site:


"This is the kind of beer that gives the word "stout" a reputation. Extra generous quantities of barley malt, followed by vigorous fermentation leaves this "imperial" heavy weight with 8% alcohol A.B.V. and a body as full as chocolate bread pudding. A complimentary and complex array of bitter notes comes form potent American hops, earthy British hops, black-roasted malts and, of course, coffee. Santa Fe Brewing Company uses only top-quality ingredients like organically grown East Timor coffee beans blended with New Guinea coffee beans, locally roasted by O'hori's Coffee House. Its heavenly flavor and aroma can't be beat or imitated."

Here we go...


Pour - deep, dark, almost black in color with a big mocha colored head that's thick like pancake batter. Wow, this looks mysterious and delicious.

Aroma - big notes of espresso, hot chocolate, bitter black chocolate, tiramisu and fudge. It's amazing how much this beer smells like a shot of espresso thrown on top of some sort of chocolate dessert.


Taste - up front is a lot of bitter, dark roast coffee combined with a smooth cocoa and dark chocolate flavor. This is a stout that will make any fan of coffee beers happy. If you like the earthy, bitterness of a nice dark cup of coffee than you'll enjoy this. Lots of emphasis on coffee flavors and plenty of maltiness supporting them. My tongue is a bit dry and I'm getting flashbacks to the espresso I had at 6:45 this morning but man this is good stuff!


Overall - This is a very rich and flavorful brew and one that warms your stomach and makes you feel like having another before you've gotten halfway through the one you're drinking. We really loved this beer, it hit all the marks of a great stout and the coffee flavors were spot on as well. Nothing too intense or overdone, just super flavorful, smooth and delicious.


Would I buy more of it? - sure, this is a great coffee stout and perfect during a cold winter evening OR with dessert anytime of year. To be honest I don't need a specific season or a specific food pairing I could drink this all year long and be very, very happy.


Note - Along with Santa Fe's Imperial Java Stout, their winter offering, they're releasing three other seasonal canned beers. Freestyle Pilsner in the summer, Oktoberfest in the fall and Viszolay Belgian-style Dubbel in the spring.


Czar Scale:
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Imperial Java Stout
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Brewery: Santa Fe Brewing Company
Santa Fe, New Mexico  
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: 2-row pale, Roast, Munich, Chocolate, Carastan
Hops: Bravo, Fuggles
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: ???
Date: March 22nd, 2011

Posted by Russ

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Monday, February 28th 2011

Cans Full o' Coffee Beers

You can't brew coffee with beer but you certainly can brew beer with coffee. Let's face it, whoever it was that first brewed a beer with the addition of coffee was just plain brilliant. The roasty, bitter flavors of coffee mesh together perfectly with most dark brews (and even some lighter ones). Popularized in the mid-90s, coffee beers are now brewed by just about every little brewery in the country, many doing so through a partnership with a local coffee shop. When it comes to those beers getting into cans, well we've only just begun.


Up until a few months ago it wasn't too tough to figure out which brewery was the first to can a coffee beer since there was only one. Surly Brewing Company's Coffee Bender hit shelves in late 2008 making it the first and only coffee beer canned in the US at the time. Coffee Bender, a coffee-fueled take on their popular Bender Brown Ale (no, its not a stout or a porter), is "brewed" (actually the beer is steeped in cold pressed coffee) with coffee beans grown in Guatemala and locally roasted at Coffee & Tea, LTD. in Minneapolis. If you're a coffee lover this beer is certainly a great example of what it can do for a beer. Since the beer itself is relatively light-bodied the dark, bitter, roasty flavors of the coffee really come out. This is a beer that is definitely worth seeking out.


Coffee beer lovers finally saw the second canned coffee beer appear late last year. New Mexico's Santa Fe Brewing Company released their Imperial Java Stout, a winter seasonal and their fourth canned offering, in December of 2010. This 8% Russian Imperial Stout packs some heat and plenty of flavor. It's brewed with East Timor coffee beans blended with New Guinea coffee beans and locally roasted by O'hori's Coffee House in Santa Fe. This beer is rich and malty with a super nice bitter chocolate flavor. 



What does the future hold for this alluring style when it comes to cans? The good news is that a couple more options are on the way. Iowa's Great River Brewery has just gotten label approval for 16 oz. cans of their Redband Stout. It's brewed with cold-pressed coffee from Redband Coffee Company and weighs in at 6% ABV. Also, Good People Brewing Company out of Birmingham, Alabama, who have just begun canning their beers, has plans to put their Coffee Oatmeal Stout in cans later this year. The brew, a 6% oatmeal stout, will feature coffee from Primavera Coffee Roasters, a local coffee shop. As soon as we hear of any others coming to cans we'll be sure to let you know! Cheers!

Coffee Scale:
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Posted by Russ

Labels: Coffee Beers

Friday, March 5th 2010

Coffee Bender
(Surly Brewing Company)

The first coffee beer to be canned. Surly certainly has done its share to rid the world of canned beer phobia, especially by being the first to can numerous different styles. Once you open a can of this, or any of their other beers, you are well aware that you have something special in your midsts and it should be taken seriously. 

From the Surly site:

"Coffee Bender refreshes like an iced-coffee, is aromatic as a bag of whole beans as satisfies like your favorite beer. The Surly brew team has developed a cold extraction process that results in intense coffee aromatics and flavor bringing together two of our favorite beverages. Your only dilemma will be whether to finish your day or start it with a Coffee Bender. "

Here we go...

Pour - out of the can this floods my glass and settles as a reddish brown color with a big, thick, off-white foamy head. Looks like a nice beer right out of the can. 

Aroma - wow. Once you pop that tab it smells like you cracked one of those little Doubleshots from Starbucks. The smell is that of super fresh roasted coffee and can easily be detected from across a room. Hay-soos! Coffee galore when it comes to the aroma, not much else to say. Hooray for coffee!

Taste - a big wave of bitter, dark-roasted coffee heaven takes center stage followed by some sweet malt and some tangy flavors. This is a very solid brown ale mixed with some ridiculously fresh (and quality) tasting coffee. 

Overall - I had this once before and wasn't all that impressed. For some reason the second time around is a totally different experience. Maybe Surly changed things? Maybe this can was fresher? Who knows. All I know is that the coffee flavor in this beer is intense and makes for one hell of a great tasting beer. 

Note - The coffee used to brew this beer is Guatemalan Finca Vista Hermosa Full City Roast (which is a roast level) by Coffee and Tea Ltd.


Coffee Scale:
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Can Scale:
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Coffee Bender
Style: American Brown Ale
Brewery: Surly Brewing Company
Brooklyn Center, Minnesota  
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: Pale Ale, Aromatic, Medium Crystal, Dark Crystal, Oats and Chocolate
Hops: Columbus and Willamette
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 45
Date: March 5th, 2010

Posted by Russ

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