I have a new breakfast beer for you—this burly imperial coffee stout from Lagunitas. It has the coffee aroma to wake you up in the morning and the caloric content to provide energy for the rest of the day. Add a donut chaser and you’ve got the breakfast of champions.
Okay, not really. Dear God, please do not drink this big beer for breakfast (it’s 12% ABV!!). You should definitely try to track this beer down, but wait until lunch at least to crack it open. That’s what I did…and then I kissed the rest of my day goodbye, deciding to spend my afternoon “working from home” (read: binge watching Archer and napping) in a delightful stout-fueled haze.
But I digress. You’re here for the beer.
The High West-ified Imperial Coffee Stout is the first barrel aged beer that Lagunitas has ever bottled. The rest have only been available on draft, and there aren’t a whole lot of these big bombers to go around. It was released in mid-March and the brewery only shipped 4500 cases this year. So if you find one, grab it. Better yet, grab two—one to drink and one to stash for a dark day in the future.
The beer pours a really, really deep brown (some would call it black) with a thin, caramel colored head. It smells the way this style of beer should: like coffee and whiskey, and the first sip is a wave of velvet followed by a strong coffee bite. Lagunitas brewed this beer with beans from Petaluma Coffee and Tea Company, then stashed it in High West whiskey barrels for two to 10 months. It’s 100% barrel-aged, which means they didn’t blend the barrel-aged beer with non-barrel-aged beer (something a lot of breweries do to even out the flavors). Oddly enough, I don’t get a lot of whiskey on the first couple of sips. As the beer warms though, the coffee takes a back seat and the sweetness comes out in the form of caramel and vanilla. The whiskey rears its beautiful head, too, adding a peppery spice and some heat. I pick up some earthiness from the wood, as well.
The bottom line is that this is a stupid good beer. The kind of beer that you plan a whole day around drinking. Clear the schedule, light some candles and prepare to get weird.
Lagunitas Brewing Company
City: Petaluma, Calif.
Style: Barrel-aged imperial stout
Availability: Limited, 22-ounce bombers
Graham Averill is Paste’s Drink Editor. He spends too much time during working hours drinking beer and watching Archer, but that’s what happens when you get a liberal arts degree. You can follow him as Daddy Drinks on Twitter.