Beer Reviews

Mushhushshu (Dark Ale Blend)

Complex and chimerical, this blend of dark ales has rested in freshly seasoned bourbon barrels selected from our southbound neighbors at New Riff Distilling. Uncoiling from oaken slumber, Mushhushshu (11.3%) exhales notes of chocolate, toasted vanilla, toffee and dark fruit—spry splendor time-tempered into mellow malt majesty.

Review courtesy of our Sensory Specialist, Travis Houston, a Certified Cicerone and FoBAB judge.

There’s a lot going on in this beer, with blending, adjuncts, and barrel aging. Talk us through what each of these components adds to the beer.  

There’s definitely a lot going on in this beer. Blending allowed our barrel masters to fine-tune the base, creating the perfect foundation onto which all the other flavors are built. Cocao nibs add some robust bitterness reminiscent of dark chocolate. The addition of coffee rounds out this bitterness even more, and adds roasty espresso notes. Vanilla beans enhance the barrel flavors, amplifying the sweet oak and vanilla notes picked up from wood-aging. The beans also add a hint of spicy complexity.

This is one of our first Barrel Aged releases to spend time in New Riff barrels. What does this partnership add to our Barrel Aged program, and how do freshly used barrels elevate a wood-mellowed beer?

The main reason we love these barrels is that the liquid in them previously was world-class, and the slew of medals and awards New Riff has picked up only validates what we already knew. They’re also very close to us, being located just across the river, so the barrels get here fresh and clean. The fresher the barrel, the more spirit character is left to impart new flavors on anything aged within them. It also means the wood is denser, allowing the proteins in the wood to interact with yeast and create entirely new flavors like vanilla.

What are some of your favorite beefy, barrel aged brews?

Bell’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Expedition Stout, Alesmith’s Barrel Aged Speedway Stout, and Madtree’s Barrel Aged Axis Mundi.

cacao nibs being added to tank for brewing

Mitch adding cacao nibs

Appearance: Opaque black with thin, brown foam and slight lacing.

Aroma: Espresso, roasted coffee, dark chocolate, toffee and vanilla, with hints of warming alcohol.

Taste: Moderately sweet with medium-low bitterness. Flavors of dark chocolate, espresso, coffee bean, and sweet vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with some warming alcohol and a mildly sweet linger.

Overall: This is a big, complex beer. Notes of dark chocolate and espresso are featured in this medium bodied, mildly sweet, jet-black beer. Hints of marshmallowy vanilla, oak and toffee round things out, leaving a pleasantly sweet linger.

What foods would pair well with Mushhushshu?

This would go great with a thick cut steak. It would also go great with chocolate cake, or a brownie with vanilla ice cream.

Ideal glassware for Mushhushshu?

A snifter

Bottle and glass of Rhinegeist barrel aged Mushhushshu atop barrels