Über Joe sounds like a wallop of a beer. It’s a “Maplewood stave aged imperial stout with coffee, cocoa nibs & vanilla,” clocking it at 10% ABV. It’s a beer with a lot of adjectives but, ultimately, it’s the additives that give its defining character. The beer is a success, though, not because it has tasty adjuncts, but because they accent a potent base beer.
Über Joe pours jet black with a head that turns oily as it dissipates. The nose gives off all of those dessert-focused extras: chocolate, vanilla and coffee, with a roasty, malty stout at the core. In the flavor profile, it covers each of those ingredients as well, both collectively and in isolated flavors that wash over the palate. With a bitter coffee note at first, it turns to chocolate milk for a flash, then a quick coffee and vanilla, then back with more coffee and maple notes. Through the entire sensation, nothing upsets the balance.
Most surprising of all is the soft mouthfeel that’s akin to a sessionable milk stout, which is why this beer is dangerous. It drinks like an everyday beer. It’s not overly sweet, even with cocoa nibs and vanilla, and the coffee addition is bitter but never acidic. It’s incredibly smooth and flavorful, while being mostly easy drinking. There’s a hint of the high alcohol at the front and back, but the maple wood and coffee counter any overly boozy flavors.
It drinks like a milk stout and finishes like a cold press, seamlessly fusing all of the different ingredients without losing its focus as an imperial stout at heart. Yes, Über Joe is a coffee beer. But, even in 12-ounce, four-bottle packaging, it’s a coffee that will knock you out instead of wake you up.
Brewery: 3 Sheeps Brewing
City: Sheboygan, WI
Style: Imperial stout
Availability: 12 oz. bottle, draft
Loren Green is a Minneapolis writer covering beer, music, and more. Follow him on Twitter at @lorenmgreen.