Beer Review 0455: Founders Mango Magnifico con Calor (Magnificent Mango with Heat)

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Editor’s Note: Beer 3 of 7 in my birthday beer week, in which I celebrate my birthday by reviewing beers I’ve sat aside for the occasion. I turn 31 on August 14. I advise you to celebrate your birthday accordingly, too!

The second of three entries for 2013 in Founders hard to find Backstage Series beers sees the Grand Rapids brewery attempting something it is generally very good at (fruit beer) and something it has never tried before on a grand scale release — adding spicy peppers to a beer.

According to Dave Engbers, co-founder of Founders, the Backstage Series allows “beer enthusiasts who don’t have the ability to make it to our taproom an opportunity to experience some of the beers that, historically, have been limited to our taproom and a handful of high exposure events. Although these are not brewed in large volume, it is our intention to distribute them to all of our markets.”

Mango Magnifico con Calor (Magnificent Mango with Heat) is brewed with mangoes and locally-grown Michigan habanero peppers. On the Scoville Scale, which is a numerical scale used to rate the spicy heat of chili peppers, habanero peppers rank 100,000-350,000 units — compare that to a banana pepper, which hits 100-900 units, or the jalapeño pepper, which comes in at 3,500-8,000. So we’re talking some significant heat here.

The beer is 10% ABV (alcohol by volume). As someone who has a thing for beers made with peppers, all too often I am disappointed by the lack of spice, so I’m going into this one expecting to feel a decent amount of heat, especially since Founders are using a pepper that contains quite a bit of spice. (Most pepper beers seem to be brewed with ancho, chipotle, or jalapeño peppers, which contribute nice flavors, but not much heat.) After all, this beer is called Magnificent Mango…WITH HEAT.

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The pour delivered an average size, bright white and soapy head that quickly diminished. This beer is light golden in color, a shade or two darker than a commercial macro lager, and is exceptionally clear with no particles or sediment. Lacing is good, leaving behind thin, creamy sheets, but just like the head, this fades after just a couple of sips as well. It looks like a typical summer beer, but no alcohol legs for 10%.

The nose is full-on mango, and it’s peachy mango, very sweet, with just a hint of pepper. It’s not spicy pepper, but moreso freshly picked and chopped pepper, which when combined with the sugary mango, makes for a very fresh smelling brew. It’s also very clean, as in the aroma disappears very fast when you exhale. It’s a bit dull since it only involves two major players, but considering this is a beer that smells the complete opposite of a beer, it’s pretty remarkable.

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Founders aren’t lying about the heat. While not the first flavor (that belongs to the mango), it starts to creep up in the back of the throat immediately after the first sip. The mango is quite sweet with just a snippet of some tartness; overall, the mango flavor really reminded me of a flavored tea, perhaps even with a hint of lemon. The accompanying habanero heat will by no means burn your mouth up, but it is commanding and takes center stage on the finish, and it does continue to build as you drink down the bottle. Which brings me to this point: no way will you want to drink all of this by yourself. Hell, even Founders tell you to share this bottle with a pal. I’m thinking perhaps a couple of friends. Mango Magnifico is medium-bodied, with a medium, creamy mouthfeel that starts to become cloying in the last sips.

In summary: Founders give you exactly what the beer is called, mango with heat. While I really enjoyed this beer and I do think it is quite a brewing feat considering this is 10% alcohol and it’s not boozy, nor does this even remotely taste like a beer, I have to rate this the lowest of the Backstage Series beers to date because drinkability just isn’t here. Six ounces is enough — there’s no real complexity; the mango sweetness, although quite nice mixed with the habanero heat, becomes tiring on the palate after a while. And honestly, if you drank all 750 ml of this, I think you’d have a major stomach ache.

But attention makers of beer with peppers! THIS is the amount of spice we want if you deem your beer to be “spicy.”

Founders Mango Magnifico con Calor (Magnificent Mango with Heat), 87 points. Price: $12.99 US for one 750 ml bottle.

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