Alaskan Brewing Co.’s Heritage Coffee Brown is the newest release in the Juneau, Alaska-based brewery’s series, which was started to showcase “the boundless creativity of the Alaskan Brew Crew through a rotating collection of big, bold and distinctive brews packaged in 22oz bottles.”

Each new release in the series is brewed first on a 10-barrel pilot brewhouse, then released as a draft-only release as part of the brewery’s Rough Draft Series before finally being bottled. Past releases in the Pilot Series have included Imperial IPA (8.5 percent ABV), Imperial Rye IPA (8.5 percent ABV) and Alaskan Barley Wine (10.7 percent ABV).

Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown bottle

Released in October, Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown is a 7 percent ABV English-style brown ale brewed with English malted oats, English chocolate malt, and Pale malt as well as cascade and calypso hops. Interestingly, the brewery also added a Brazilian variety of coffee bean from Juneau-based Heritage Coffee Roasting Co. named Paixao to both the kettle boil and the end of fermentation. Heritage Coffee also allowed the Alaskan brewers to roast some of their pale malt in the coffee roasters, which added a significant amount of coffee to both the aroma and the actual taste of the beer.

“We were looking to brew a coffee beer that wasn’t overly dominated by dark malts,” said Tyler Lindquist, brewer at Alaskan, in a press release. “That’s why we went with a brown ale for this beer. The subtleness of the brown ale then allowed us to accentuate the richness of a great coffee, instead of the better acrid flavor that sometimes comes through in coffee beers.”

As the name suggests, the Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown pours a muddy rust brown color that reminds me of dark honey, and has a huge off-white three finger head that takes some time to dissipate, leaving a very thick lacing behind. Aroma from the glass is a combination of strong roasted coffee beans, sugary malt, oak, vanilla and wheat, and there appears to be plenty of carbonation in the glass.

Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown

Flavor-wise, the Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown starts off immediately with a strong and rich coffee flavor, albeit more of a brewed black coffee flavor compared to the roasted coffee bean note that is present in the aroma. There is some malty sweetness on the palate as well as other flavors of yeast, oak,  creamy nuts, toast, earth and dark cocoa, all of which are well integrated with the rest of the profile. I am picking up some slight espresso bitterness on the finish, but it is not overly strong, and it actually accentuates the cold-brew coffee flavor that is present. The overall mouthfeel is a bit light, but well within normal limits, and there is plenty of carbonation to go around.

Beer for this review was sent to Tenemu by Alaskan Brewing Co.

Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown
BREWERY: Alaskan Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Juneau, Alaska
STYLE: Brown ale
ABV: 7 percent
IBU: 19
PRICE: $7.99
RELEASE DATE: 7 percent
AVAILABLE IN: 22-ounce bottles
If there is one thing you can say about the Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown, it is what its says it is, essentially a brown ale brewed with coffee. I was not expecting the most complex of profiles, and that's what I got, but what the beer lacks in complexity it more that makes up for in balance. The rich coffee note is strong, but never overwhelming, and it is wonderfully balanced by a malty backbone that gets more prevalent as the beer warms up. A flavorful, well-crafted brew that easily lives up to my expectations, and it would make a great beer to serve with a breakfast by the campfire, if you are into that sort of thing.
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