As we head toward the holiday season, heavier, dark beers are really getting their chance to shine.

We already pitted two dessert beers against each other last month, so we decided to examine two types of what’s quickly becoming a winter favourite: coffee beers.

When done well, these can be an absolute delight, even if you’re not huge on getting that morning rush. After all, you can drink these in the morning, but, you know, that’s probably a troubling sign.

We took two of the more notable coffee beers on the market right now—Steel and Oak’s First Press and Main Street Brewing’s Lava Salted Mocha Stout—and saw how they stack up against each other.

While the styles are slightly different, both beers are coffee stouts, and both brewers worked with roasters (Steel and Oak with Vancouver’s Timbertrain Coffee Roasters and Main Street with Hawaii-based Honolulu Coffee).

Let’s do this.

Steel

Taste

First Press: 7.5/10

Really crisp, flavourful but not overly so and with a nice aroma, First Press is an impressively sound coffee beer. It hits all the right flavour notes, with dark chocolate, hazelnut and toffee coming through in waves. But it’s never overpowering.

Main Street

Lava Salted Mocha Stout: 8/10

Salting a stout is quite rare and that’s like the third most interesting thing going on here. This beer is packed with flavour, and it all comes together for a really delicious drink that actually tastes like the title implies. Is it overly sweet? At times, yeah. But that’s what your signing up for with a beer like this.

Sessionability

First Press: 8/10

A top-notch coffee beer that seems to get better with each sip. Usually, it’s near impossible to have more than one coffee stout, but First Press keeps you coming back.

Lava Salted Mocha Stout: 5/10

The same can’t be said for Main Street’s effort here, which, again, is sort of implied in the title. It’s pretty hard to pull this taste off (which they did), but making it sessionable over the course of a four-pack was just not going to happen. Nice try, though.

Overall

If you’re having more than one, we’d have to go with Steel and Oak’s First Press. It’s just an impeccably strong coffee beer that won’t make you feel bloated but will keep you sipping.