Modist First Call Cold Press Coffee Lager

James Norton / Heavy Table

James Norton / Heavy Table

I love the cognitive dissonance created by pouring a glass of Modist First Call Cold Press Coffee Lager. If you read the words “cold press coffee” in a beer context, your brain immediately shuts off — you know that the liquid will be dark as tar, possibly equally thick, and swamped with a smoky, roasty, coffee-powered maltiness.

But no: Modist has made a coffee beer that pours golden amber in color. On the nose, it doesn’t even present as heavily coffee-driven. It’s got a bit of funk and brightness, preparing you in no way for what happens when this 6.5% ABV liquid hits your palate.

In fact, depending upon where the beer hits your tongue, you’ll get markedly different results. Up front, you’ll taste an almost fruity brightness and more hops than you might expect for the brew’s mellow 20 IBU. But as you roll the liquid around your mouth, you’ll get a serious coffee kick, one that shows up somewhere in the middle of each sip and grows dramatically as you swallow.

James Norton / Heavy Table

James Norton / Heavy Table

Is it refreshing to drink? Is it satisfying like a good cup of joe? Is it a clash, or a complement? This stuff is complicated enough to open up real debate. If someone said: “I can’t drink that stuff. It’s confusing and weird,” that would be a reasonable conclusion. If someone said: “I’m drinking this stuff non-stop. It’s delicious, and no one else is doing anything quite like it,” that’s legit as well.

If you’re easily confused, try your first glass blindfolded. It may help. Then again, it may not. Either way, it’s worth giving a try. It’s newly out in tallboy cans and guaranteed to get the beer people in your life talking (in, we suspect, a generally good way).

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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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