When it comes to hype inducing stouts the sweet adjunct laden stouts generally top the list. The variants commonly referred to as Mexican hot chocolate stouts are equally sought after. While I am generally a fan of both styles they can also be a bit hit or miss for me. The “pastry stouts” can be cloyingly sweet and the stouts with peppers can be over the top with the heat but when each is done right, they are both happy place beers for me.
It would make sense that combining both styles could result in something special. That is exactly what the teams at Westbrook Brewing Co. and Evil Twin Brewing had in mind when they partnered up in 2016 to combine one of each of their most popular creations.
Those two beers were Evil Twin’s Biscotti Break, an imperial stout brewed with vanilla, coffee and almonds, while Westbrook’s contribution was its Mexican Cake, an imperial stout brewed with cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks and habanero peppers. Mash them together and you have a pretty impressive list of adjuncts that come together as Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break.
Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break pours the expected jet black with light barely able to penetrate the edges. A thin layer of chocolate brown bubbles forms only to completely disappear in less than a minute. As I bury my nose in the glass I do not come out with much and I am having to hunt for identifiable characteristics at first which is not at all what I expected. I get a nutty aroma along with hints of cinnamon and chocolate along with a wisp of coffee that comes out a bit when it warms.
My first sip of the Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break brings much more of an impact than the aroma. The chocolate is there but not in a sweet milk chocolate or in a bitter baker’s chocolate way but somewhere in between. I get a vanilla sweetness along with a bit of ashy smoke but again the coffee is almost nonexistent. The flavors are all there but they are a bit muddled and it takes some hunting to pick them out. As I swallow the peppers arrive with just a slight tingle that lingers into the finish. The peppers are generally the most polarizing ingredient for me when added to a stout. They either become way too much and the burn takes over and ruins the beer for me or they can add a welcomed layer to the beer to help cut the sweetness. Evil Twin and Westbrook nailed that sweet spot for me with the peppers; just enough to make sure you know they are there but not in your face enough to ruin the party.