The flavor and aroma of coffee complements darker, richer beer styles like porters and stouts. A new seasonal release that does this especially well is North Carolina-based Hi-Wire Brewing’s Strongman Coffee Milk Stout. This beer combines the lactose sweetness of a milk stout with the robust flavors of cold-brewed coffee to create a slightly sweet, creamy coffee-beer experience.
Strongman’s label sports a wrestling singlet-clad strongman hoisting a 500-pound barbell over his head, much like you’d see in a sideshow circus act. (No surprise from a brewery named Hi-Wire). Out of the bottle, Strongman pours an opaque black-brown. A large, light tan head quickly dissipates, leaving a ring of foam that hugs the edges of the glass.
Strongman’s aroma will have you thinking of your favorite latte. As I swirl the beer in a snifter, robust coffee aromas pair with a mild sweetness and notes of vanilla, making me crave a sip of this rich brew.
In so many coffee beers, there’s either too much or not enough coffee flavor, but Hi-Wire gets it just right.”
The first sip doesn’t disappoint with bold coffee flavors present upfront. Hi-Wire creates this powerful coffee flavor by incorporating the cold-brewed coffee into Strongman post-fermentation. The beer’s rich java tang is followed by a mild sweetness from the lactose typically used in milk stouts to create a creamy mouthfeel. Surprisingly, Strongman exhibits little to no astringency, unlike typical coffee beers, and finishes smoothly with just a hint of hop bitterness lingering on the tongue.
Hi-Wire’s Strongman is the kind of coffee-infused beer I wish more breweries would make—a beer in which you can taste the coffee, but it doesn’t overwhelm the style. In so many coffee beers, there’s either too much or not enough coffee flavor, but Hi-Wire gets it just right. Combined with the added lactose, Strongman blends the best of a beer and a latte to create a deliciously bold brew. It would be perfect paired with brunch or a rich chocolate dessert, and at 5.3% ABV, there’s no need to feel bad about having more than one.