Morning Brew

A.M. meets P.M. in these coffee-flavored beers

As we enter a golden age of Grade A coffee and beer (and peak iced-coffee season), it's a no-brainer that brewers are combining these morning and evening vices into a delicious hybrid.

But coffee-flavored beer is hardly a hyper-caffeinated replacement for Sparks. Midnight-hued stouts and porters naturally possess chocolate and java notes. The addition of ground coffee beans–during brewing or cold-steeped afterward–amps up beer's existing coffee nuances while imparting just a kiss of caffeine.

Instead of reaching for Folgers, microbrewers accustomed to sourcing high-quality barley and hops are incorporating boutique-roasted and fair-trade beans. In California, Lagunitas employs local outfit Hardcore Espresso's potent java, and Minnesota's Surly Brewing adds Guatemalan beans roasted at area fave Coffee & Tea Limited into its killer Coffee Bender.

These marvelous mashups can range from oil-thick and triple-macchiato intense to as mild and smooth as a café au lait. Though many of these brews are regional, a number are also available at online purveyors like LiquidSolutions.biz and ArcherLiquors.com–or you can nab a bottle at your favorite beer (or, perhaps, coffee) shop.

Cappuccino Stout California's craft-beer juggernaut Lagunitas turns to pedigreed roaster Hardcore Espresso to create a tan-headed indulgence with a chocolate nose and a gentle creaminess cut with hints of vanilla and brown sugar (lagunitas.com).

Coffee Bender Minnesota's genre-stretching Surly brewery makes its velvety, porter-brown ale by cold-steeping Guatemalan coffee, which produces a flavorful, minimally bitter treat (surlybrewing.com).

Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout Japan's Kiuchi Brewery crafts a pitch-black beast capped by inches of leather-brown foam. This subtly smoky beer (pictured) tastes like liquefied chocolate-covered espresso beans–in the best way possible (kodawari.cc).

Jah-va Stout This high-alcohol (12 percent!) imperial stout from New York's Southern Tier brewery is black as coal, with rich cocoa notes that jive nicely with Blue Mountain coffee (southerntierbrewing.com).

Kentucky Breakfast Stout Drinking Founders' rich and roasty stout (which comes from Michigan) topped with a cinnamon head is like having drunken coffee with a dollop of cream (foundersbrewing.com).