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Coffee and booze combine in these Austin beers

Arianna Auber
Independence's taproom-only Cascara Saison is an unusual coffee beer because it incorporates the fruit surrounding the coffee bean, rather than the bean itself. The fruit (in the pint glass in this photo) is typically discarded once the bean is extracted. [Arianna Auber / AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Austin is a city of both coffee fiends and beer lovers, so it holds that we're also a city where it's easy to find coffee beers. In celebration of National Coffee Day this weekend, here are some local coffee beer options to seek out. National Coffee Day falls on Sunday this year — doesn't a coffee beer sound like the perfect brunch drink?

Independence Cascara Saison

Available on tap only at Independence Brewing is a coffee beer that probably isn't like the porters or stouts we're used to seeing with coffee. The Cascara Saison is made with what's left over when a coffee bean is removed from the fruit surrounding it. Commonly called the coffee cherry, the fruit is often discarded once farmers retrieve the bean. But after a recent trip to Brazil with Little City Coffee, Independence brewers decided to put piles of cascara to good use.

Cascara doesn't actually taste much like the coffee bean. Instead, it has "a kind of fruit leather note to it," brewer Jonathan Barraza said. "Coffee isn't just a roasted thing you drink in the morning. It's a fruit. It can be enjoyed a bunch of different ways. That's what I want people to come away knowing."

That fruit leather aspect with the funky saison base is an unexpectedly perfect match of flavors. But the Cascara Saison isn't the only coffee beer Independence will be producing this season. Look for the Up & Down Coffee Blonde Ale in nitro cans sometime in November — the ultimate result of Independence's collaboration with Little City.

Lazarus Jolted Phoenix Coffee Golden Ale

Coffee can have some very strong flavors, so brewers tend to add the caffeinated beverage to beer styles that can stand up to it. A golden ale would seem risky, right? But Lazarus, an east side brewpub and coffee shop, has mastered the Jolted Phoenix, infusing the base with house roasted beans without overwhelming the other ingredients. It's a delicately flavored delight, especially when paired with Lazarus' black bean tacos.

St. Elmo McCaffe Double Coffee IPA

Here's another stylistic conundrum. Pairing coffee's dominating profile with the massive amount of hops that a proper IPA calls for would be like teaming up two alpha dogs to pull a sled, if the beer isn't in good hands. But St. Elmo recently released a new batch of McCaffe that proves coffee and hops really can work together harmoniously, even when both are in endless supply. The South Austin brewery added more than 16 lbs. per barrel of hops and 4 lbs. per barrel of coffee from neighbor Spokesman — to delicious effect.

Last Stand Coffee Porter

Now, that's more like it. One of Last Stand's most underrated offerings — and also one of the first beers the Hill Country brewery produced — the Coffee Porter delivers coffee in the beer style you'd expect it to come, a 6.3% ABV, full-bodied porter. But don't knock tradition, not when it's so good. Last Stand adds in local roasting company Summermoon Coffee’s cold brew, which lends a subtle smoky flavor to the traditional porter base of sweet chocolate.

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Zilker Coffee Milk Stout

Creamy, rich, chocolatey and a little nutty, Zilker's mainstay brew might be the epitome of liquid dessert. The East Austin brewery rotates the local roasters that supply beans for the coffee milk stout, such as Flat Track Coffee, Cuvee Coffee and Casa Brasil, but the result is generally the same no matter the batch. Lactose gives the beer a creamy texture, fuller body and sweeter taste to round out the roasted accent of the coffee.