Jan. 4 2016 03:29 PM

San Diego craft beers please both worlds with these combos

Modern Times’ Black House and Iced Coffee at the Lomaland Fermentorium
Photo by Beth Demmon

If there's anyone more insufferable than a beer snob, it's a coffee snob. There are, though, plenty of masochistic brewers in town who aim to please both crowds by combining coffee with beer in caffeine-laced alcoholic creations. For the most part, the masochists are succeeding.

Success is no surprise with world-class coffee roasters such as Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, Caffé Calabria, James Coffee Co. and others within San Diego County limits. It stands to reason that craft-centric alliances would be formed with the slightly newer but arguably more powerful beer scene. Craft beer and coffee lovers are probably already familiar with local names such as Bacon & Eggs Imperial Coffee Porter (Pizza Port Brewing Company), Xocoveza Mocha Stout (Stone Brewing/Cerveceria Insurgente) and Hawaiian Speedway Stout (AleSmith Brewing Company/Swell Coffee Co.). Those are just some of the most prominently available local coffee beers, and here are a few more that deserve a chance to shine:

Mostra Mocha Imperial Stout by
Abnormal Beer Company + Mostra Coffee

The staff at this Rancho Bernardo-based brewery knows as much about food as it does beer. By combining its 5.1 percent ABV imperial oatmeal milk stout with chocolate from San Francisco and cold-steeped espresso from Mostra, we end up with a delightful pint perfect for breakfast, lunch or dessert.

Coffee Pale Ale by
Bay City Brewing Company + Swell Coffee Co.

A defiant brew that disproves the perception "all coffee beers are dark," Bay City Brewing's Coffee Pale Ale emits a crisp aroma with tinges of fruit and earth roasted into a clean 6 percent ABV, finishing with just the perfect amount of roasted bitterness. Reminiscent of Swell's earlier attempts at dry-hopped coffee, this serves as the flip side to the "beer with coffee" phenomenon to give the two delicious vices equal time to shine.

First Anniversary Coffee IPA by
Mission Brewery + Bean Bar

2015 saw downtown San Diego become a true coffee destination with multiple craft coffee outfits opening within months of each other. Arguably one of the best is the East Village's Bean Bar, which rang in its one-year anniversary by collaborating with neighbor Mission Brewery for a coffee IPA, made with its own single-origin Kenya espresso roasted beans. Best paired with something sweet!

Guatemala Coffee Stout by
Culture Brewing Company + Revolution Roasters

Classic chocolate accents are mild, yet omnipresent in this luxurious midnight coffee stout by Culture Brewing Company and Encinitas-based Revolution Roasters. The fair-trade organic beans used in the brew are recommended to enjoy with pastries and breads, making it the perfect selection for this java-heavy beverage.

Coffee Subscription by
Modern Times Beer

Technically, Modern Times' monthly coffee subscription is closer to "coffee with a beer background" than coffee beer. But when it commits to a new creation, Modern Times tends to see it through with irritatingly predictable excellence. Its coffee-roasting program remains outstandingly innovative, with some beans barrel aging the same way that master brewers age beers. In some cases, they even use barrel-aged beans in beer that ends up barrel aging. Now that's meta (and not to be missed).


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