Monday, April 23, 2012

Mexican Hot Chocolate Imperial Stout

I've been falling behind on posting beer tastings. With all my batch splitting and blending over the last year I've generated a backlog of 18 different beers in bottles and kegs that I have yet to post a tastings for... as a result this week I'm hoping to knock out one a night.

Snifter of Mexican Hot Chocolate Imperial Stout.To start, I’ll take advantage of one of the last cool nights of the year to taste the “Mexican Hot Chocolate” version of my Kate the Great clone. If you’ve never smelled an ancho pepper, it smells like lightly spiced raisins. Dried peppers make so much more sense to me in a big dark beer than the grassy flavor of fresh chilies.When you spice a beer try to think like a chef, try to match them to the other flavors of the beer.

Mole the Great

Appearance – In a bulbous snifter the beer looks pitch black. The thin light brown head has great retention and lacing, I’m sure at least partly thanks to the extra protein contributed by the wheat malt.

Smell – The dried peppers lead the aroma, complex sweet smelling spice. There is a bit of toasted malt and some chocolate as well. Otherwise it is a clean aroma that doesn’t hint at the strength of the beer. When this beer was first in the bottle the peppers provided a big cherry aroma, luckily that has since died off.

Taste – Where the “plain” Kate the Great lacked complexity, this beer has layers of toasty, roasty, chocolaty, malt with just a hint of capsicum heat in the finish. The cinnamon and vanilla play supporting roles, adding to the sweetness without being readily apparent on the first few sips. It does still lack the sharper char that most Russian Imperials feature, but with the added flavors I don’t really miss it. Relatively dry for the style, but not overly.

Mouthfeel – Moderate-thin body for such a big beer. The carbonation is medium, which is marginally more than I prefer in a big dark beer. This is the one aspect of this beer that could use some work. The 149 F conversion rest is a few degrees lower than I would mash next time.

Drinkability & Notes – Hard to complain about this beer, loads of complexity without any one of the flavors walking over the rest. I would take the cocoa and vanilla just slightly higher next time, but otherwise I think the amounts are spot on. I like it a bit more than the similar Breakfast Stout variant I brewed, although I enjoyed the base beer of that one more than the base of this recipe.


Jacob McKean said...

I can affirm that this beer is indeed delicious, and incidentally, would make a lot of sense in San Diego. The spiciness was subtle, adding a satisfying bass note you might not even immediately discern as spiciness. It all came together beautifully too, with the flavors distinct but, as you said, complimentary rather than vying for dominance.

Jacob McKean
Modern Times Beer

Anonymous said...

Copper Kettle's Mexican Chocolate Stout won a gold at the 2011 Great American Beer Fest. That beer is amazing.

Category: 6 Herb and Spice Beer - 92 Entries
Gold: Mexican Chocolate Stout, Copper Kettle Brewing Co., Denver, CO
Silver: LSD, Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Minneapolis, MN
Bronze: CBC Heather Ale, Cambridge Brewing Co., Cambridge, MA

Libby said...

I don't like beer--and this sounds delicious. I just had my first home brewing lesson on Saturday. and it was a wonderful experience.

Libs Segal

ivan said...

I've done a few batches of a Chocolate Chipolte Oatmeal Stout. If I send you some would you critique it?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I never say "No" to free homebrew. Shoot me an email, and I'll give you my address.

Jim said...

Can you describe how this beer was dosed? ground/crushed/whole pepper? what type of chocolate (nibs, cocoa powder) etc and how much? Sounds great! would love to better understand how you added spices.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

All the details are included in the notes of the Kate the Great recipe post. I like cocoa powder for the chocolate, since it is low-fat (so it doesn't hurt the head retention). I mix it with the cinnamon and dried chilies and make a paste with hot water to rehydrate everything. Let me know if you have any other questions.