Celebrate your Irish heritage—and one of the year’s biggest beer holidays—without food coloring.
Photos by Cali Owings
Stillwater’s Lift Bridge Brewing Co. unveiled its seasonal Irish Coffee Stout and kicked off the month o’ green with a release party at its taproom in Stillwater on March 7th.
Brewmaster Matt Hall said the inspiration for the beer came from his wife, who is a big fan of whiskey barrel-aged beers and likes to drink Irish coffees near St. Patrick’s Day.
To start, Hall said they brew an export strength milk stout and blend it with their Silhouette Russian Imperial Stout, then age the beer in a whiskey barrel. The beer is topped off with a specialty roast from Five Watt Coffee, a new coffee shop in Minneapolis’ Kingfield neighborhood.
Though Irish Coffee Stout has sweet notes of chocolate and vanilla, it’s a strong stout with 8.5% ABV and hint of whiskey character to keep it rough around the edges.
The partnership with Five Watt Coffee is the biggest change to the beer this time around, said Dan Schwarz, CEO. In previous years Lift Bridge partnered with the Stillwater Dunn Bros. franchise for the coffee used in the stout, while this year the brewery took the opportunity to “combine forces” with the local specialty coffee roaster Five Watt Coffee.
Five Watt created a medium-roasted blend of Sulawesi and Peru coffees to match the flavor profile Hall was looking for in the beer. For coffee nerds like Schwarz, who said he just installed an espresso machine at home, the same beans used in the beer are available for sale in the taproom.
Related Post: Brewer Profile: Matt Hall, Lift Bridge Brewing
This year, Lift Bridge produced 45 barrels of the limited release beer, Schwarz said. It will be available in the Stillwater taproom, at select bars and restaurants and most liquor stores where other Lift Bridge beers are sold, but only until it’s all gone.
The release party—one of the brewery’s four main events throughout the year—was the taproom’s de facto St. Patrick’s Day party with traditional Irish music, Irish dancers, and plenty of green.
If you’re fortunate enough to grab two bottles of this seasonal beer at your local liquor store sometime this month, use one to make these Lift Bridge Irish Coffee Stout brownies. The best part about this recipe is that it only requires about a half-cup of beer so there’s plenty left for drinking.
Like an Irish coffee, my great-grandma’s brownies are acceptable to consume before noon, largely in thanks to generous amounts of cold coffee. They’re the type of no-frill brownies that are usually made in double- and triple-batches, spread thin on cookie sheets and shared during fellowship after church service.
What does the Irish holiday represent, if not fellowship?
I replaced the cold coffee in her tried-and-true brownie recipe with the Lift Bridge Irish Coffee Stout to create a dessert to serve alongside this beer at your next St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
While I’ve paired the beer here with chocolate, the coffee and whiskey flavors would also play well in savory dishes. During the release party, Patriots Tavern used the beer in a traditional Irish stew.
Messing with a brownie recipe can land you in cake territory very quickly if there’s too much liquid. I knew I wanted to add beer to the batter, but I didn’t want to lose the gooey, fudgy texture. So following this bit of brownie logic, I removed one egg from the original recipe and replaced it with the beer.
Irish Coffee Stout Brownies
2/3 cup butter
5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup Lift Bridge Irish Coffee Stout
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1.5 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
[For the frosting]
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
5 Tbsp stout
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a metal baking—I used a 9×13. A larger pan can be used for less dense brownies and vice versa.
- Melt butter in a small microwave safe bowl and add cocoa; set aside to cool.
- Beat eggs well—until they are shiny. Add beer and the sugars.
- Mix in the cooled butter and cocoa mixture.
- Add remaining dry ingredients and vanilla; mix well.
- Spread the batter into your pan. It should be thick and a bit of a struggle to stretch the batter to the corners of a larger pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center is clean. Baking times will vary based on pan size so time accordingly.
- While brownies are baking, mix the frosting and beat out lumps from the powdered sugar.
- Immediately after removing the brownies from the oven, cover with the frosting. The frosting will set as the brownies cool. Serve with milk, coffee or a glass of beer.