This is the first of daily porter and stout reviews this week. I know, that is a lot of beer to drink, but I am willing to sacrifice for my art.
I think Mexican food has done one very important thing for American cuisine: Made it OK to turn up the heat on any food you desire. We put chilies and sriracha on anything and everything right now. So why not beer.
I have had beer with jalapenos, ghost chilies, and sriracha. I can say some of them have been good, some of them have been bad, and some of them have been virtually undrinkable for me. The key to using chilies, sriracha, or any adjuncts, including fruit is to use them sparingly to keep the base flavor of the beer. What you want is the flavor of the beer to complement the flavor of the adjunct you are adding. Two good examples of this for the sake of this review are Birdsong Jalapeno Pale Ale and Ska Brewing’s Mole Stout. For these beers it is more about the taste of jalapenos and the mole then the heat that is added.
You can say the same thing about the Boulevard Imperial Stout X – Aztec Chocolate. This is one of those dark beers people tell me they won’t like because they are dark. Anyway, it is a very deep dark brown. It poured clear and had a nice foamy brown head. The first thing you notice besides the color when you pour it is a chocolaty aroma. On further inspection you not only get chocolate but a bit of cinnamon and an undercurrent of prune or dark fruit.
Looking at the ingredients I expected to get a lot of heat when I tasted it. I did get heat, but it was mostly from the alcohol present. What I did taste initially was chocolate with a bit of plum sweetness and hints of cinnamon. As I’m drinking, I’m thinking, “Where is the heat?” You get the heat as it slowly builds on the back of your tongue. It is subtle at first, but it is very noticeable by the time you finish the bottle. This stout is pretty thick and sticky on the palate, but it is well balanced and drinkable. It is however a sipping with friends beer.
One sentence review: This is a good sipping beer with a subtle but noticeable heat kicker at the end.
There is going to be one big Spotify list on Friday for this whole endeavor. In the meantime, listen to Jason Isbell’s new album Something More Then Free.