BA Mole Ink
Holy mole! Our indelible Imperial Stout kicked up with a piquant mole spice blend and mellowed in bourbon barrels. Dark, rich, and full of complex flavors, this beer isn’t here to go unnoticed.
There’s a lot going on in this beer (with spices and barrel aging both being factors). Talk us through what these components adds to the beer.
Barrel aging a beer causes a lot of changes to both the body and flavor. A protein called lignin breaks down to form vanillin, the main component of vanilla. Tannins from the wood first leach into the beer, then are oxidized by oxygen seeping in through the seams, which creates dark-fruit and sherry-like flavors. Both of these add the perception of sweetness, which is enhanced by hop bitterness fading. These sweet notes meld with the roasted malt, resulting in deep, complex notes of cocoa and chocolate, which is a prominent ingredient in mole. After coming out of the barrels, we infused the beer with cinnamon and roasted hot peppers, adding spice and heat. We also added some more cocoa to help balance out that heat.
This is a new Barrel Aged Ink variant. Can you talk about where the idea came from?
We had a really unique and fun event last year called Inked where local tattoo artists set up shop in the taproom, while also releasing some interesting variants of Ink that we’d been experimenting with. We had a few brainstorming sessions and gave suggestions to our innovation brewers, but also gave them free-reign to come up with recipes themselves. Mole was one that they created and crafted themselves, and was a quick hit with all who tasted it.
What does the partnership with New Riff Distilling add to our Barrel Aged program, and how do freshly used barrels elevate a wood-mellowed beer?
New Riff make incredible spirits, and their ability to select barrels definitely factors in. They’re experts in selecting the right wood to age their liquids in, which means we also get the highest quality barrels. They’re also only a few miles from us, so we get these amazing barrels fresh, clean and ready to be filled. We’re also able to get enough barrels to be deliberate in how we use them. In the past, we would more or less just take what we could get and throw an available liquid in it. Now, for example, we’re able to select only rye barrels, and create a variant of Ink that has a unique rye note. This partnership has also created consistency across our barrel aged brands, allowing us much better control over what flavors the barrels will impart.
What are some of your favorite barrel aged imperial stouts?
Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS) and 3 Floyd’s Darklord are some of the old guard, but still phenomenal. I was very impressed by Fundamental Observation by Bottle Logic, but getting a bottle of that can be tricky.
Appearance: Jet black with very little tan foam
Aroma: Roasted peppers, holiday spice, dark chocolate, roasted malt, alcohol is well hidden
Taste: Spice and pepper meld into dark chocolate and roast, with the slightest tingle on the tongue from hot peppers. The spice barely lingers, building to a mild but noticeable level.
Mouthfeel: The spice and pepper additions add some body, while the peppers impart a slight tingling heat.
Overall: Roasty, dark chocolate notes are countered by hot peppers and cinnamon in this slightly sweet, full bodied barrel aged imperial stout.
What foods would pair well with BA Mole Ink?
The obvious answer would be to pair it with a traditional mole, and this would go great with any of them.
Ideal glassware for BA Mole Ink? A snifter