Following the same stream of consciousness that lead me to make Tepache, I decided to attempt a beer centered around food. I wanted something that would both be reminiscent of and also pair well with mole. It’s not an original concept by any means, but I’ve mostly found disappointment in beers attempting to marry sweet and heat. Most of them fall into one of the three following traps:
- Leaning too heavily into the concept of spicy beer. Most of the maltiness gets obliterated, and you’re left with a beer that tastes like raw capsaicin. This is, unquestionably, the worst sin of the three.
- Leaning too heavily into the concept of dessert beer. Stouts already have a tendency to lean on the sweet side, which is often restrained by the ABV to give a balanced flavor. These are powerful flavors to overcome, and the beers end up as pretty plain stouts.
- Assuming mole is just chocolate + peppers. While those are the two strongest flavors in mole, they do have backup. A mole-themed stout would be incomplete without accompanying spices like cinnamon or toasted cumin.
To attempt to fix these problems, I decided I would need two things- a basic stout recipe and a basic mole recipe to use as a template. For the stout, I fired up brew-bot and used my Arminius WinterAle recipe as a weighting template (aiming for something a little lighter). Unsurprisingly, I turned to one of my favorite chef’s mole recipe: Rick Martinez’s Mole Sencillo. This, paired with a little research, lead me to the most important ingredient in the brew: cocoa nibs. Rather than relying on a sweet, chocolate-y malt base, I chose them to get a bit more bitterness and some earth-y tones (a.k.a. the flavors of the real dish).
With my notes complete, I combined brew-bot’s output with my spice additions for this recipe:
- 3.0 lbs 2-Row
- 1.0 lbs Crystal 40L
- 0.5 lbs Crystal 140L
- 0.5 lbs Chocolate Malt
- 0.5 lbs Flaked Oats
- 6.6 lbs Dark Liquid Malt Extract
- Wyeast 1084: Irish Ale
- 1.00 oz Warrior (60 minutes)
- 0.25 oz El Dorado (5 minutes)
- Other Stuff
- 4 chiles guajillos (Added a 1 minute, strained before primary)
- 2 cinnamon sticks (Added at 1 minute, forgot to strain before primary)
- 1 star anise pod (Added at 1 minute, forgot to strain before primary)
- 1.25 oz cocoa nibs (Secondary)
After a healthy fermentation, some slight CO2 issues, and an extended amount of keg maintenance, I finally got to taste the fruits of my labor- and was thoroughly confused. Most of my beers end up with a very distinct and direct flavor, but this one didn’t. The chiles added a sweet and slightly fruity note, but not abundances of heat. The spices were present but subtle. More than anything, the beer tastes the cocoa nibs with a touch more bitterness than you’d find in most stouts. It’s certainly not bad; however, it’s also not what I was looking for. Even with a fair amount of research and planning, I came up with a recipe that only went half the distance- but I guess that’s all part of the experimental brewing lifestyle.