About four or five years ago some industry prognosticators believed Mexican Stouts would become one of the next massive brewing trends. While some breweries have incorporated this unique style into their seasonal lineup, it hasn’t become nearly as prominent of a category as anticipated but don’t worry, there’s still some next-level options when the weather cools off. But what exactly is it that differentiates a Mexican Stout from other variations for the dark beer?
Well, it begins with plans to brew a dry and dark effort, typically with a robust ABV, at which point the brewers will add generous amounts of chili peppers, cinnamon and cacao nibs during the brewing process. The end result is a winter warmer kind of beer that often sips like a cup of Mexican hot cocoa, at least that’s how New Realm Brewing Company describes its Oaxaca Choca Imperial Mexican Stout. Oaxaca Choca – please don’t ask us to pronounce it – is one of the Georgia and Virginia-based brewery’s most highly-anticipated beers and is set to soon be released, for the third straight year.
Available only in October this year to celebrate both Halloween and Dia de los Muertos, New Realm’s 10.7 percent ABV creation features the style’s standard ingredients like chili peppers, cinnamon and locally roasted cacao nibs, plus vanilla and lactose sugar to help emphasize the chocolate character. And, according to New Realm’s brewer, a barrel-aged version coming later this fall, which will probably be twice as difficult to get as the standard 16-ounce four-packs.
“Our brewing team nails this beer every year. The combination of a great Imperial Stout recipe, locally sourced cacao nibs, cinnamon, vanilla and chilies give this beer a wonderfully complex flavor,” said Brewmaster and Co-Founder Mitch Steele in a statement. “It’s one of our favorite releases all year long and it’s also great as a cellar beer with a bit of age on it.”
Finding a beer like Oaxaca Choca outside of its distribution footprint can prove challenging and since most hyper-local breweries aren’t churning out this level of complexity, there might not be as many options to drink a Mexican Stout but don’t worry, late last month California-based Stone Brewing Company released its take on the style with Xocoveza, which will be sent out to the brewery’s entire footprint. Xocoveza is described as a Mocha Stout, also inspired by Oaxacan Hot Chocolate. Stone has been brewing the 8.1 percent ABV effort since 2014 and it’s available in cans and bottles. It features the usual suspects of ingredients like chocolate, pasilla peppers, cinnamon and nutmeg and also adds both vanilla and coffee, the latter of which comes from Ritual Coffee, a fully independent, woman-owned roasting company based out of San Francisco. There was a lot of trial and error in finding the perfect coffee company and the perfect coffee flavor this year.
“We trialed some new coffees from a few suppliers for this year’s Stone Xocoveza,” said Steve Gonzalez, Stone Senior Manager of Brewing & Innovation, in a statement. “The clear standout was Sítio Cafe Forte, a Brazilian coffee roasted by Ritual. The chocolate notes of the beans piqued our interest, and when we pilot brewed the beer with this coffee, the results really blew us away.”
Finding it will be easy but don’t expect it to linger too long on store shelves.
There are plenty of other Mexican Stouts out there, too many to even list, ready to be sipped during whatever activities you have planned this season, so it’s best to find one that fits your preferred palate, as some rely more heavily on either the coffee, chili peppers or chocolate than others. But if you’re already tired of the inundation of pumpkin beers, this might just be a welcome break.