Lakefront Brewery: Fuel Cafe

by: BeerAdvocate on 03-14-2007
We’re on an eternal quest to try as many new beers as we can in this lifetime, but sometimes beer selections can become stagnant or new beers are simply hard to find—or find in good shape. So we nearly geeked in our pants when we found a unique variety eight-pack from the Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, WI, on the shelves at Whole Foods in Cambridge. It was on its own, but an employee assured us that they had just gotten it in a week or so ago, so we scooped it up and thought we’d explore each of the beers within the pack over the next eight weeks—lucky you.

Lakefront Brewery variety 8-pack, including Fuel Cafe coffee flavored stoutStarted in 1987, Lakefront Brewery is a locally owned craft brewery located along the Milwaukee River near downtown Milwaukee. And according to Milwaukee Magazine and Maxim, they have one of the best brewery tours in the area. They also currently brew roughly 14 beers throughout the year, including this week’s tasting: Fuel Cafe, a stout brewed with a house blend of Alterra coffee from the Fuel Cafe in Milwaukee. Let’s dig in.

The Taste
A massive, fizzing, dense coffee-colored head rises from the pour and settles to a foam lace. Deep, rich, nearly opaque black, with ruby hues around the edges. Soft but distinct fresh coffee grounds in the nose, along with chocolate and roasted notes. Smooth, firm and even in the mouth, and not too heavy. Quite acrid up front, with a mouthful of roasted astringency, char, a sharp and semi-sour bite and a weakish watery hop flavor of the rind-like citrus variety just beneath the sourness. Minimal sweetness provides little balance, and allows the dryness of the beer to dominate. Smoky undertones. Bone-dry finish with residual roasted, stale-ish coffee grounds and acrid flavors lingering—not overly pleasant, too tannic-like.

Final Thoughts
Unfortunately, this is a bit of a letdown, and several user reviews on our website seem to concur. For us, a coffee stout is all about balance, which this lacked. A stronger malt backbone would have gone down well and provided something to push back the overbearing, acrid coffee grounds as well as wet the dryness with more interesting complexities. Luckily, we have seven more beers to try. Fuel Cafe is 5.93 percent alcohol by volume, and is brewed year-round. A variety eight-pack set us back $14.99.

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