I owe my obsession with craft beers to coffee stouts and porters. My introduction to craft as an on-going habit was Founder’s Breakfast Stout several years ago. Once I discovered beers with two of my favorite things — coffee and chocolate — I was immediately on the hunt for more of the bean-laced brews. A number of solid coffee beers hail from the South, and Durham’s Fullsteam brewery certainly has one with its Coffee is for Closers Iced Coffee Porter. And no, the great Glenngary Glenn Ross reference isn’t lost on me.
These 16-ounce tallboy cans arrived on the heels of another Fullsteam beer that also featured local coffee. With Fearrington Winter, a collaboration with nearby Fearrington Village, the brewery concocted a beer with coffee and pecans for the chilly winter months. Now, the brewery has Coffee is for Closers as a winter/early spring seasonal to showcase beans from Morrisville’s Muddy Dog Roasting Company. There are a few different ways to impart coffee flavor in a beer, but Fullsteam opts for the cold-pressed method using Muddy Dog’s Sumatra. More on that in a bit.
Coffee is for Closers pours a super dark brown almost black color with a pillowy cream-colored head. That thick latte-esque layer takes a few minutes to fade away completely, leaving a thin ring around the edge of the class. I thought it appropriate that a coffee beer pours this way and it’s a nice touch, if even for a brief visual. The nose is full of brewed coffee and cola notes, aromas you would expect in a coffee porter or milk stout. Coffee is for Closers is brewed with lactose as well, an ingredient you can distinguish in the flavor profile.
Speaking of taste, the first sip follows the nose nicely, serving up smooth coffee and solid punch of chocolate flavor. There’s some cola-like notes there as well, alongside a subtle sweetness from the addition of the milk sugar. The coffee flavor is quite smooth too, not at all bitter like some beers that are brewed with the beans. That no doubt is a result of the cold-pressed method over aging on beans or other ways of adding coffee to a beer. The ingredients for a coffee with cream and sugar are all here, completing the package that Fullsteam calls an Iced Coffee Porter. The body is spot-on as well, offering more heft than a brown ale with an almost velvety mouthfeel. As the beer warms, the nose showcases more coffee aromas than when it was first poured. The flavor remains consistent, though, with a solid mix of iced coffee and a pint of solid base porter.
Coffee beer lovers should certainly give this a shot, especially if you’re after full cold-pressed flavor at an ABV that’s a bit more sessionable. If you know a coffee lover that you’re looking to convert to craft brews, this could be what does it. Coffee is for Closers balances the iced coffee and porter characteristics nicely, making a highly enjoyable beer packed full of flavor. This is also a great beverage at any time of day, too. It goes well with that weekend (or weekday, we don’t judge) brunch and is definitely a solid after dinner or dessert option. Heck, just pour it in a mug and have it in place of your morning cup. Your secret is safe with us.
Brewery: Fullsteam Brewery
City: Durham, North Carolina
Style: Coffee Porter
Availability: Limited, 16-ounce cans in North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama
Billy is the host of The Brewcast, a beer podcast that never records on a regular schedule. You can follow his drinking habit @beardbrews on Twitter.