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Top 100 Beers of 2019

top beers 2019



Irish Coffee Barrel-Aged Legion, Community Beer Co.

by Brad Darnell
Irish Coffee Barrel-Aged Legion
Community Beer Co.

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Brewmaster Jamie Fulton Talks Irish Coffee Barrel-Aged Legion

What sets this beer apart from other examples within the style?
The intricate balance among the ingredients really sets this beer apart from others. The bold malt profile, oak and spirit elements from the Jameson barrels and locally sourced coffee each shine in their own way, but when together, they really bring a sense of harmony to the beer.

What makes this beer truly world-class?
The key is balance. The rich, roasty malt, the delicate barrel/spirit character and the coffee finding its way into the mix without dominating. The result is a bold, flavorful stout with a silky-smooth finish, hiding the high ABV quite well.

What is your favorite aspect of this beer (flavor, aroma, mouthfeel, etc.)?
The aroma of the barrel/spirit mingling with cocoa/coffee notes really is divine!

How popular is this beer among your faithful fans?
This year was the first time we produced the Irish Coffee variant of Barrel-Aged Legion, and it was well received! It sold out in the market far faster than we expected, and we wish we had brewed more! We will definitely be brewing it again in the future.

Where does this beer’s name come from?
The name for the beer was actually crowd-sourced through a fun contest with our fans! Legion struck a chord with us as it conveys a powerful force to be reckoned with. It’s a perfect fit for a badass, big and bold stout.

Is this your “desert island beer?”
I’d probably have to go with our Texas Lager for a desert island libation, but you’d definitely get some decent calories out of this beer!

Do you know a story – or have a personal story – that revolves around this beer?
This year when we poured this beer at GABF we knew we were onto something special. Word spread around the festival and the line at our booth started getting longer and longer, filled with folks wanting to try this beer. It was a very humbling experience and it’s always very validating to receive compliments from fans and colleagues in the industry!

Judge’s Second Opinion

This opaque, perfectly jet-black beer really struck me as well-made when I originally evaluated the sample. It starts as a beautiful beer that I eagerly raise ever closer to experience that first whiff, which does not disappoint. The aroma fills my nose with heavy and rich sweet milk chocolate and light coffee notes, though the chocolate is most dominant. The flavor is a mouth-coating heavy and lightly bitter rich dark malt, reminiscent of dark chocolate truffles, a light hop bitterness, light spicy hops and a malt-dominant, dry finish. The beer is complex and invites further contemplation. Despite the rich chocolate-dominant character, I know there is far more to this fine ale.

After further analysis and extended contemplation, I uncover plump dark fruit aromas, cocoa powder and light oak notes. The head persists throughout and leaves a short-lived lace line. The beer is clean with only malt-derived dark fruit character. This rich dark malt character, along with the lack of bitterness, intrigued me since the beer maintains a balanced malt sweetness without any harsh dark malt bitterness, a character all too typical in many similar beers. Dark chocolate lingers into the finish and a dry alcoholic character cuts the sweetness. Some oak character is present as is a spicy rye whiskey note.

Barrel-aging is a technique that brewers use to add character and/or complexity to their beers, and this particular beer certainly benefited from that. The Jameson cask imparts some additional notes of oak and whiskey without providing any harshness. I found this particular aspect extremely well executed.

I would love having this beer in my cellar and sampling it over time to evaluate how it changes with time. For now though I am glad to have tried this and recommend others enjoy it as a contemplative beer by itself or alongside other strong flavors, such as rich and creamy blue cheese or grilled lamb chops. - Brad Darnell


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