Monday, November 29, 2010
Mocha Death from Iron Horse Brewing
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays to pair beer with. When sifting through the wide variety of choices at my local bottle shop, it reminds me how far American craft beer has come in the last twenty years. With maverick Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head going mainstream (which I regard as a good thing) with his show “Brew Masters”, the notion that “beer should taste like beer” is being replaced with, “if it tastes good drink it!” Adjuncts, like corn and rice, once used as filler to cut costs, are being replaced with ingredients like herbs, chocolate, spices, pumpkin, and honey to enhance the flavor of beer. These adjuncts, when used well, can make for some terrific beer pairings for turkey day. There’s beer for the football and snacks, beer with dinner (usually a few varieties), and beer with the pies. Our main pie was a sweet potato and pecan pie, so I chose the Mocha Death from Iron Horse Brewery in Ellensburg, Washington. Despite the slightly intimidating moniker, Mocha Death is an approachable dark ale, brewed with espresso beans and pure cocoa. The result is exactly what you would expect and hope: dark roasted maltiness with just the right hint of coffee and bittersweet chocolate. The espresso beans and cocoa are added to their Quilter’s Irish Death dark ale, which weighs in at 7.8%ABV. Mocha Death is strong, but not over the top by any stretch of the imagination.
Iron Horse brings out Mocha Death in October, and it is a perfect beer for a brisk fall, or cold winter day. I am all for brewers breaking away from the notion that a cold weather seasonal needs to taste like a spice cake and a spruce tree had a 9% alcohol baby, so Mocha Death represents what great craft brewing is all about; bucking tradition, making beer that goes with a great meal, or just to enjoy after a hard day’s work.