Beer Review 0531: SKA Autumnal Molé Stout
SKA Brewing Company, located in Durango, Colorado, began producing beer in 1995 when two underage guys (Bill Graham and David Thibodeau) decided the answer to them not being able to legally purchase beer was to make it themselves. Inspired by Ska music, (which, I must state, I am NOT a fan of — it’s kind of like American jazz combined with Caribbean music) they brewed some beer and found they were good at it.
And that’s all the history their website (skabrewing.com) gives, so I have to stop there.
SKA’s Autumnal Molé Stout is a seasonal release, brewed with cocoa nibs, spices, three different chile peppers: Mulato, Ancho, and Anaheim. All of the peppers used in this beer are relatively mild on the Scoville scale, which is a numerical rating scale used to measure the spicy heat of peppers. This beer comes in a can, and rates 5.5% ABV (alcohol by volume).
First off, I should note that I purchased a six-pack of this beer because I enjoy beers that are brewed with peppers. I didn’t drink all six cans, but I can personally attest that each can exploded upon opening, leaving you with a mess that looks like this:
If you have this beer, I advise opening it over a sink. Perhaps it was just this particular batch, but it seems like SKA overfilled these cans, resulting in the spillage.
Pouring produced an initially huge head that was dark brown and frothy in texture, but it fizzled away exactly like a cola would. The color of the head was very dark; darker than most Imperial Stouts! That said, it was bizarre that the head disappeared as quickly as it did. This beer is pitch black in color, with just a hint of a lighter brown edge when held to light. The body appeared clear, but when I got to the end of the can, there seemed to be lots of particles and sediment floating about, as well as an oily sheen on top of the beer. Lacing never formed.
The nose is dominated by cinnamon and peppers, but it’s not spicy peppers, its more of a garden/earthen aroma. The malt base shows just a bit, giving off a bit of roasted coffee. It’s an odd aroma that is stagnant and unchanging as the beer warms.
And the flavors follow the aroma, delivering a heavy, overwhelming blast of cinnamon and pepper. While there might be just a touch of spiciness, it’s mostly pepper flavor; think bell peppers and soil. The use of cocoa nibs comes off as powdered cocoa, which blends well with the heavy-handed cinnamon. The true star of this brew is the finish, which rewards with a nice deep note of smokey roasted coffee, serving to fade the cinnamon to more of a background player and mingling with the earthy peppers nicely. I’d call Molé Stout full-bodied simply because of the overuse of spices, but it’s quite thin and foamy in texture, much like a cola.
While Autumnal Molé Stout has a nice finish, that’s really the only redeeming quality. If I’m drinking a beer that uses peppers, I’m expecting a fair bit of spice; sadly, the only spice you’re getting here is a wallop of cinnamon, and that makes for drinking an entire glass a chore. Good luck getting all the way through this one; don’t be like me and get a six-pack, sample this before committing.
SKA Autumnal Molé Stout, 69 points. Price: $9.99 US for a six-pack.