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Cocoa Mole! Cerveza Para Cinco de Mayo!

The hubster brought home a surprise bomber the other night.  Something new, completely unique and amazingly good.  If you’re lucky enough to have access to New Belgium Brewing Company’s specialty beers, then bypass the Mexican beers this Cinco de Mayo and pick up a bottle of their Cocoa Mole.  Holy Mole, this beer is spiced just right with ancho, guajillo and chipotle peppers; cinnamon; and bittersweet cocoa.

If you’re not familiar with mole, it’s a heavy spiced Mexican sauce or rub that’s sweet, spicy, and full of delicious, fruity smoky lingering heat.  Imagine that in a beer and you’ve got Cocoa Mole -“Porter de Mexico”.  Introduced as part of New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series, this beer is not for weak taste buds.  The spices permeate the beer without overwhelming.  You can taste every ingredient, yet the combination is brilliant, and like the sauce, the chilies and leave a sweet fruity lingering heat that blends perfectly with the spicy cinnamon and bittersweet chocolate.

For those of you who like stats with your beer reviews, here we go…

  • Medium bodied
  • Dark
  • Full Flavored
  • 9% ABV
  • IBU’s?  Target hops are used, but IBUs aren’t even listed – the spices pretty much replace the hops in this one.
  • Spices – Ancho, guajillo, and chipotle peppers, cinnamon, cocoa

If you’re thinking you’d rather cook with it than drink it, then hey, you’re not alone.  I can easily imagine cooking this down to a thick syrupy demi glacé and spooning it over mounds of tender roasted chicken or pork (Remember the beautiful food in the movie “Like Water for Chocolate”?) .  Or scoop some vanilla ice cream, pour Cocoa Mole over and top with chocolate syrup for a delicious beer ice cream float.  Yum!  Don’t believe me?  Check out New Belgium’s website for some creative Cocoa Mole recipes.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a good authentic mexican cerveza on Cinco de Mayo.  And in the heat of summer, a cold (yes, I said cold) Corona can be just the ticket (and it happens to be one of the few beers that encourages fruit).  But for a true Cinco de Mayo flavored filled cerveza experience, you’ve got to try Cocoa Mole.  At less than $10 a bottle, not only will you get a memorable beer experience, but you’ll also have a gorgeous artsy bottle that will melt down into one heck of a nice cheese plate (check out New Life for Old Beer Bottles) !

Happy Cinco de Mayo Everyone!  Viva la Mexico and Cheers Beers!

Top 5 Valentine’s Day Brew Picks

Over a decade ago, the idea of pairing beer with chocolate was unheard of.  Today, the choices are endless – imperial stouts,  dessert IPAs, belgian quads bursting with candy sugars.  So this Valentine’s day, forget the wine and pair your Valentine’s sweets with a specially selected Valentine’s beer.  With so many to choose from, perhaps a few suggestions are in order.  Here are my top 5 Valentine’s Day brew picks.

5. 120 IPA by Dogfish Head

This is a rich, thick, sweet, decadent beer that pushes the ABV envelope.  Enjoy it like a fine cognac, sip slowly – it’s a powerful fruity, malty brew balanced with a generous hoppy bite.  Pull out the brandy snifters for this one, it’s dessert for hopheads.

4. Curieux by Allagash

Besides looking like an expensive bottle of liqueur, Curieux lives up to its opulent appearance.  This is Allagash’s belgian tripel aged in Jim Beam bourbon barrels.  This beer is clean, sweet,  fruity, full of character and laced with bourbon and vanilla.  Not your ordinary tripel, Curieux is special and deserves to be enjoyed on upscale occasions.

3. Chokolat by Southern Tier

Just buy a bottle of Southern Tier’s Chokolat and a box of strawberries (maybe some whipped cream) and you are set.  This beer is thick, smooth, creamy, sweet, and packed with unbelievable high quality belgian chocolate flavor.  Need I say more?

2. Gravitation by Smuttynose

My first experience with this beer was at SAVOR in DC.  It was paired with dark chocolate cups filled with a tangy sweet mango cream.  It had to be the most amazing beer/food pairing I’ve ever had, and for that, Gravitation has earned a permanent spot on my top 5 list.  Gravitation is a belgian quad, sweet with belgian candy sugars and dried fruit flavors, but in true Smuttynose style, its a strong beer that isn’t overwhelming.  Just unique and complex and absolutely outstanding when served with fruit and chocolate.  It’s also a seasonal that doesn’t hang around long once released.  So if you find it, grab a few bottles to keep around for special occasions like Valentine’s day.

1. Riserva by Weyerbacher

I realize sour ales aren’t everyone’s favorite, but I LOVE sour beers, so for me this is number one.  Weyerbacher’s Riserva is a rich, sweet, malty sour ale brimming with raspberry aroma and flavor.  Regardless of the wild yeast, I don’t consider this a funky beer – there’s no horse blanket here.  The sourness is well balanced with the malty sweetness and the fruit.  It’s just a delicious unique beer that’s worth exploring with your significant beer loving partner.

Any of these east coast beers are sure to win some hearts, but if all else fails, then go for the 90 proof raspberry whipped cream, available in the refrigerator section at your local liquor store!

Happy Valentines Day and Cheers Beers!

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