Lift Bridge Irish Coffee Stout 2017

James Norton / Heavy Table

James Norton / Heavy Table

One the most enjoyable aspects of the nuclear explosion of craft beer in Minnesota is that we’re seeing a remarkable diversity of “this beer is good for that occasion” brews. Wednesday night poker game? Seafood-forward three-course meal? Sixty-day-aged-steak dinner? Halloween? State-Fair-themed gathering? There are beers out there that are locally made, suited to the event, and reliably good.

Here’s one for “St. Patrick’s Day / any given cold-weather celebration” — Lift Bridge Brewery Irish Coffee Stout. It clocks in at a hearty 8.0 percent ABV, and it’s a big old friendly mess of sweet, milky, malty, roasty, coffee-kissed deliciousness. There aren’t really any sharp edges on this beer. It’s aged in whiskey barrels and made with cold-pressed coffee from Five Watt, giving it a mellow, nearly acid-free complexity that plays well with (or as) a dessert course. Coffee beers can present a biting astringency or (far worse) a chemical bite, but neither of those traits rears its head in this brew.

This brew is also evidence that there is ample room for play within any given segment of the beer world. Inbound’s recently released RIS (Russian Imperial Stout) shares some bigness and darkness with Lift Bridge’s Irish Coffee Stout, but is a world removed, from a flavor perspective, presenting a relatively austere and snappy profile, as opposed to the Coffee Stout’s downright sweet and jolly approachability. Both are lovely beers, but neither crowds the other on the dance floor of beer choice.

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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