Spiced stouts have become more and more popular in recent years, but some breweries have begun to introduce ever more exotic elements into the beers that push the boundaries of the adjunct-laden style even further.
One of those breweries is Commonwealth Brewing Co., which was founded in September 2015 by Jeramy and Natalie Biggie. Located inside a former fire and rescue station that was built in 1962, the Virginia Beach-based brewery has built a reputation for producing not only high-quality beers of all styles but also farmhouse sours, aggressively hopped IPAs and wild ales.
In a Māori legend attributed by ethnographer John White to the Ngāti Hau tribe, Mārikoriko (Twilight) is the first woman, created by Ārohirohi (Shimmering heat) from the heat of the sun and the echoing cliff. She married Tiki, the first man, and gave birth to Hine-kau-ataata (Woman floating in shadows).
Coming in at 11.5 percent ABV, the “imperial tiki stout” is conditioned on medjool dates, coconut, cinnamon and roasted tigernuts before being packaged in 16-ounce cans.
Pouring a thick and midnight black color, the Mārikoriko features a bit less than a finger of mocha head that fades away slowly, eventually leaving behind a thick ring that barely moves for longer than I expect. As expected, the aromas emanating from the glass come on full and strong, including figs, raisins, cinnamon, molasses sweetness, toasted coconut, generic nuts and dark chocolate.
The Mārikoriko shows some of its complexity early on, as cinnamon and dark chocolate dominate the profile when the beer is cold, while the finish is full of a rich nutty flavor that lingers long after each sip. Although I can’t say that the nutty notes are specifically tigernuts, there is definitely a complexity about the flavor—especially when combined with the sweet stout base—that really stands out.
I was expecting some changes as the stout warmed up, but I am not prepared for exactly how the profile shifts seamlessly from cinnamon and dark chocolate to a dominant sweet date note laced with coconut, almost like you would taste if you rolled a date around in coconut flakes right before eating it. Of course, the aforementioned cinnamon and dark chocolate notes are still present—as is the complex nuttiness on the finish—but they never again come close to being as strong as they were when the beer was freshly poured.