Whereas Wolaver’s Altra Gracia coffee porter played up the coffee to the highest degree, New Belgium has hit the mark once again with its Lips of Faith series. Even though Wolaver’s brew was probably perfect for someone who loves coffee and may not be crazy about beer, I could see New Belgium’s Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout hitting the mark with just about anyone.
The brewery’s Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout offers much more balance – indicated by the name – and comes across as one of the better coffee-infused beers I’ve had. It’s currently got an 85 on Beer Advocate.
Why might this be a good ying to the yang of a Starbuck’s Venti, Non-Fat, No Foam, chai tea latte? Let’s get wired and hit the jump.
During a recent Twitter #beerchat session, a group of us talked coffee beers and why we enjoyed them so much. There seemed to be a general consensus that the best brews were the ones with the most balance, whether you loved coffee or not. Even non-coffee drinkers liked coffee beers, so long as they weren’t over the top.
Even though the coffee aroma on this beer was very strong – I could smell if from about a foot away after my pour – everything mellowed quickly and nicely. The dark-black liquid gave off a two-finger head of tan foam that initially made me sense the chocolate as some of those bubbles burst and released the aromatics. Once you got past the first bitter chocolate smell, it’s easier to find the coffee, which was so much better than Alta Gracia because it didn’t kick you in the face. The two main aromas were complimented by earthy, grainy, roasted malts that somehow felt course in my nostrils. Neither the chocolate or coffee were a standalone feature, as they danced together to give off some great smells in addition to a little vanilla and chestnut.
For as in-depth as the aroma was, the taste was pretty straight-forward. The use of roasted barley and Midnight Wheat Malt really held its own against the coffee, never allowing the espresso flavors to more than jab at my taste buds. The mouthfeel was smooth and heavy with a surprising tingly effervescence on the front of each sip. The mocha combination of coffee and chocolate leaves a touch of bitterness on the tongue.
If you like coffee, beer, chocolate or just being happy, this beer is probably for you. You can rarely go wrong with a Lips of Faith entry and this one is no different.
Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout stats:
- Malt: Pale, Midnight Wheat and barley
- Hops: Willamette
- Adjuncts: Coffee and chocolate
- ABV: 9 percent