Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ska + Peppers = Mole Stout

One of the trends in craft beer is the "mole" beer.  This growing "style" of beer is one that is brewed using some of the ingredients that are used to make the sauces that define the cuisines of Mexican states like Oaxaca, Puebla and Tlaxcala.  I have previously reviewed two mole beers in the past ... New Belgium Brewing Company's  Cocoa Mole and New Holland Brewing Company's El Mole Ocho.  

There are several different mole sauces.  For example, in Oaxaca, there are seven traditional moles: Mole Negro, Mole Rojo, Mole Coloradito, Mole Amarillo, Mole Verde, Mole Chichilo and Mancha Manteles.  As the names suggest, these moles use different ingredients and result in sauces of different colors (negro = black, rojo = red, verde = green, etc.).  However, when it comes to "mole" beers, brewers stick to the one that could most easily been reproduced in a beer ... turning a stout into mole negro.  Both the Cocoa Mole and El Mole Ocho embodied this approach.

Recently, I was able to try other mole beer, the Autumnal Mole Stout brewed by Ska Brewing Company.  The brewers describe the beer as "an ale brewed with cocoa nibs, spices and three varieties of chile peppers: Mulato, Ancho and Hatch green chiles, (also known as Anaheim Peppers.)"

The description is fitting.  The Mole Stout pours pitch black.  The beer gives hints of aromas of cinnamon, Mexican chocolate, coffee and/or espresso.  There are also some hints of spice from the peppers, along with some nutmeg in the aroma.  As for the taste, this beer is very similar to the El Mole Ocho, with flavors of the ancho and hatch chiles really come through in the taste.  The peppers are seemingly surrounded or encased by the sweetness of Chocolate and cocoa, presumably brought out by the use of chocolate and/or roasted malts in the brewing process.

When it comes to pairing this beer, it would be easy to say ... "serve it with Mexican cuisine."  You should think of the beer as the sauce.   For example, Chef Rick Bayless prepared a Oaxacan Black Mole for the Mexican state dinner at the White House.  That mole was served over grilled chicken.  Any grilled or roasted meats, including beef and pork, would be easily paired with a mole beer like the Autumnal Mole Stout  You could also pair this beer with barbecue, although I would avoid very spicy rubs and/or sauces because that would only increase the spice in the beer.  (I don't mind the increase in heat, but for people who are not used to very spicy foods, it may be a little too much.)

This beer was given to me as a gift.  I do not see Ska Brewing Company's beers around me, but I believe they are available out west and as far east as Chicago.  Until next time ...


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