The days are shorter. The weather is colder. And that can only mean one thing: It’s stout season. As you browse the craft beer aisle for the latest seasonals, you may have noticed that many of the fall and winter beers, especially stouts, boast that they’re infused with coffee in one way or another.
But what exactly is a coffee beer? Is there caffeine in it? And will a coffee beer keep you up at night? Good questions. We caught up with Amy Crook, Quality Control Manager at Firestone Walker, to get the answers.
How Are Coffee Beers Made?
“Coffee beers are not typically brewed with coffee in them,” Amy explained. “They are beers that are aged on coffee beans or grounds for a couple days to infuse the beer with the flavor of coffee.”
Mocha Dolce, our latest seasonal beer, is a Nitro Stout featuring adjuncts like vanilla beans, cacao nibs, and – yes – whole roasted coffee beans. “We looked for coffee beans that had flavor characteristics we liked when cold steeped and that we thought would integrate well with the base beer,” Amy said.
The Brew Team sourced the coffee beans used to make Mocha Dolce from local roasteries. To infuse the beer with the coffee flavor, they loaded the coffee beans into a recirculation vessel. Once the beer was brewed and chilled, it was pumped through the vessel for a set duration of time in order to achieve the desired level of coffee flavor.
Can Beer Contain Caffeine?
In short, yes. Beer can contain caffeine. If you’re worried about your nightcap brew keeping you up, though, keep in mind that generally only beers made with real coffee or caffeinated tea leaves will contain caffeine. And depending on your caffeine tolerance, even those coffee stouts might not cause you to miss any sleep.
“The amount of caffeine in a beer is dependent on the amount of coffee used, the type of coffee used, how long the beer is aged on coffee beans, and whether the coffee used is whole bean or ground,” Amy explained.
While most breweries do not measure the amount of caffeine in their beers on a regular basis, occasionally out of curiosity, they will send out samples of the beer to be tested for caffeine content.
“We measured the amount of coffee in Mocha Dolce and found that it contained 4mg of caffeine per 12-ounces of beer,” she said. “That’s the equivalent of two cups of decaf coffee.”
For the average person, the caffeine equivalent of two cups of decaf coffee probably won’t be enough to notice. But for those who have sensitivities to caffeine, it’s a good idea to be aware of whether the beers you’re picking up this winter are made with caffeinated ingredients.
Firestone Beers Made With Coffee
In addition to Mocha Dolce, another recent Firestone Walker beer that was brewed with coffee and contains caffeine is Houses In Motion. Small-batch beers available at our taprooms may also fall under this list, so if this is something you want to be aware of, just keep an eye out for the word “coffee” in the beer descriptions.
If you’ve been cellaring an older Firestone release for a while and are curious if it contains coffee, reach out to our Social Media Team on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or send our Customer Service Team an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. They should be able to get you the answer you’re looking for.
In the meantime, use our Beer Finder to discover where your favorite Firestone beer (with coffee or without) is available near you.