Four coffee beers to pair with your holiday pie
Whether you think apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie or cherry pie is king, it’s tough to deny that coffee is queen when looking for a beverage to serve with a slice. But, modern craft brewers are making a play for pie’s preferred pairing with combinations of coffee and beer that add alcohol, carbonation and complexity to the equation.
Here are four craft beers that feature big coffee flavor perfect for serving alongside a slice of your favorite holiday pie.
Stone Brewing Co. Milk Stout
This seasonal release from Escondido’s Stone Brewing adds coffee beans (from San Diego’s Ryan Bros. Coffee) to a relatively balanced sweet stout. The addition of milk sugar (which brewer’s yeast won’t convert to alcohol) to the brew adds sweetness and body to a stout that is rich with roasted flavors. There’s the expected roast coffee impression in the brew, and a noticeable hop bitterness, but Stone Milk Stout also features a distinct roasted barley flavor layered under the coffee and the hops. It’s got a great dark-roast character balanced against the subtle sweetness, and would make a great match for a banana cream, coconut cream or pumpkin pie. Six packs of Stone Milk Stout are available just about everywhere Stone beers are sold, and the brew is also featured in Stone’s current variety 12-pack box.
Ninkasi Brewing Co. Noir
Another milk stout featuring coffee, this example from Eugene, Ore.’s Ninkasi Brewing is a little bigger and bolder than the Stone Milk Stout. Where Stone’s beer features freshly roasted coffee added early in the brewing process, the 7.5% alcohol Noir is made with the addition of cold brewed coffee from Portland favorite Stumptown Coffee. It has a sweet finish and full, creamy texture, and the coffee character is bright and assertive. The extra bitterness and alcohol help Noir stand up to the sweetest, richest of holiday pies, and it’s the bottle to reach for if you’re sitting down to a plate of pecan pie. 22-ounce bottles are available in the L.A. market; check your local BevMo!, Whole Foods or Total Wine store for Noir.
Eagle Rock Brewery Stimulus
One of L.A.’s native coffee beers, Stimulus departs from the dark beer mold by combining Intelligentsia coffee with a sparking Belgian-style amber ale. It is released each fall in limited quantities, and Eagle Rock Brewery founder Jeremy Raub called the 2015 version the best batch of Stimulus yet. With some luck, you should still be able to find 22-ounce bottles at retail stores before Thanksgiving, or head over to the Glassell Park brewery and tasting room and fill up a growler. The brew is much drier than the milk stout, and the addition of a fruity, spicy yeast character meshes with the floral and citrusy Intelligentsia coffee. There’s some delicate malt sweetness that adds another layer of caramel and toffee flavors. It was made to serve alongside a slice of apple pie (a la mode, please). Eagle Rock Brewery - 3056 Roswell St., Los Angeles, (323) 257-7866.
AleSmith Speedway Stout
This classic craft brew from San Diego’s AleSmith Brewery is the grandfather of coffee-infused imperial stouts, and it’s still one of the best. Also featuring Ryan Bros. coffee, this inky, 12% alcohol brew packs a wallop of alcohol, caffeine and flavor, yet somehow the brewers have managed to keep the beer drinkable and smooth. It seems to vanish from your glass before you realize it. The attractive 750ml foil-crowned bottles fit in at the toniest of holiday feasts. Bring out the cherry pie, sweet potato pie or a sticky slice of gingerbread to serve with Speedway Stout, and if you can manage to find a bottle of the special-release bourbon barrel-aged Speedway, all the better.
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