If there’s a consistent thread in the Lagunitas lineup over the years (besides pot jokes), it’s value. As their West Coast contemporaries like Rogue and Stone pushed for more ambitious pricing, Lagunitas generally remained an affordable but high-quality craft pick.
So what happens when it approaches a category that’s impossible to do economically? Enter this winter’s edition of the Lagunitas Willettized Coffee Stout. The recipe employs rye barrels from Willett, the recently revitalized distillery known for its striking pot still bottles and “sourced” bourbons like Noah’s Mill, adding both spice and sweetness to an already quite good coffee stout.
This coffee stout pours as a dark brown, but with a lighter hue than you’d expect from the category, and a bit of chocolate color shines through. There’s fast carbonation and a moderate foam collar. The bomber packaging is the standard, old-guard Lagunitas style—easy to find on a shelf and fairly utilitarian.
There’s a nice mix of aromas here, but roasty coffee and chocolate lead the way. There’s also some vanilla and toast from the malt and oak, along with fig and cherry esters.
If you lean toward a sweeter stout, this is the barrel-aged beer for you.”
Drinkers will find plenty of boozy warmth here, with the rye whiskey barrels adding vanilla, caramel, and fig flavors. You’d expect a bit more spice from the rye, but the sweetness from the oak is the star here. There’s also less coffee than you’d expect from the nose, though it comes back a bit on the finish. The beer leaves an overall impression of sweetness—the vanilla, chocolate, caramel, and roast flavors take center stage. The moderate hops also give the beer some winter fruit accents.
If you lean toward a sweeter stout, this is the barrel-aged beer for you. Those who like the dry, more intense Russian imperial style may want to look elsewhere. The Lagunitas Willettized would pair especially well with pub fare like a beef and Guinness pie or a juicy burger. It’s well worth a try, especially when you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth.