Modern Times City of the Dead Stout
Brewed by: Modern Times Beer
Beer Classification and Specs
- Style: Stout
- Variation: Export / Foreign, Coffee
- Limited: February
- ABV: 7.5%
- IBU: 50
Brewer’s Notes and Ingredients
Modern Times is the first brewery/roastery in the world to make beer with barrel-aged coffee beans. The barrel-aged coffee adds layer upon layer of rich bourbon, oak, and vanilla character to the underlying nutty, floral, full-bodied Guatemalan coffee. As a result, City of the Dead, is an outrageously complex and flavorful stout, even though the beer itself has not spent any time in barrels.
Malts: Two Row, Dark Chocolate, Munich, Pale Chocolate, Midnight Wheat, Flaked Barley, C170, Carapils
Additional: Guatemalan coffee aged in bourbon barrels
More City of the Dead Images
Artwork: Follows the Modern Times branding/template, with purple, maroon and magenta racing stripes. Love that vintage font.
Color: Even though their SRM indicator on the back of the bottle said 45 “Gold”, I think they meant black.
Aroma: Sweet bourbon over bitter coffee roast and bakers chocolate.
Arrived in: 22oz. Bottle
Served in: Short Tulip
I wanted to get this review done weeks ago, but I have been a bit distracted by other Modern Times releases like Protocosmos and Booming Rollers.
Modern Times Beer opened in 2013, with a core set of canned offerings. Their original line-up of sessionable ales was good, but what they have been releasing lately in bombers is some next level stuff.
We had Monsters Park imperial stout during the holidays, and were very impressed. There was no way I was going to miss out on another one of their stout offerings, especially if it used revolutionary brewing methods like City of the Dead.
This is the first beer in the world to be brewed with barrel-aged coffee beans. No, coffee beans are not put in with the beer to age in the barrel. Modern Times’ process can be seen in the info graphic above, or we can try to explain here:
- Green unroasted coffee was added to bourbon barrels, where it rested for 3 months.
- Whole beans were then ground into 140lbs worth of coffee, which was then lightly roasted.
- The coffee was then steeped in the cold stout for 48hrs, while it fermented.
City of the Dead poured a tan, ultra fine, fluffy cap atop its jet black body. Porter and stouts on nitro produce the finest, most granular head you can find. City of the Dead was one step below that, right out of the bottle.
It held for a few minutes, then melted away into pockets of larger bubbles. Once the head subsided, City of the Dead revealed its impressive nose, packed with bourbon over roasted coffee and hints of chocolate.
The consistency of City of the Dead was lighter, yet is still managed to maintain the creaminess of a thicker-bodied stout. Actually it was crisp to start, until it smoothed out with the nitro-like quality, and vanished in the finish.
City of the Dead was bourbony up front, with a quick hit of roasted coffee. In the finish, it sweetened with marshmallow, followed by oaky vanilla where roasted bitterness and bourbon intensified again.
Like any stout, City of the Dead opened up more as it warmed, where it took on more vanilla. But I preferred it cold, since it reminded me of an iced coffee spiked with bourbon. This would have been a perfect stout for a beer float.
It was amazing how much barrel-aged character Modern Times was able to pack into City of the Dead, without collectively barrel aging the coffee and stout together. The vanilla and woody oak was huge, and really blended itself into the deep roast, just like a flavored coffee.
Maybe it was from the delicious taste, or satisfying smoothness, but I found City of the Dead to be poundable like a session ale. I had to remind myself to slow down, and not plow through the roast, vanilla, and bourbon. Those flavors had to be savored.
I’m not sure if City of the Dead was brewed as a way to help promote their emerging line of bagged coffee, but I will be bummed if Modern Times doesn’t make this stout again. On that note, if Modern Times Coffee is as good by itself as it was in this ale, they might pick up a new subscriber.
Final Score: 4/5
Modern Times City of the Dead stout demonstrated one of the purest examples of innovation in today’s craft brewing industry. It featured deep coffee roast paired with sweet vanilla and bourbon. Those intense notes were by-products of City of the Dead’s unique brewing process of barrel aging the beans first, and steeping its flavor into the ale.