In just two short years, More Brewing Co. has exploded onto the national craft beer scene, in large part due to its limited stout releases. The Villa Park, Ill.-based brewery opened in 2017 with head brewer Shaun Berns at the helm and managed to take home the Best in Show award at that year’s Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer.
One of the brewery’s best known series is named Henna, after the temporary body art most associated with Indian culture. The series debuted in August 2017 and is made up of stouts inspired by specific deserts like Neapolitan ice cream, Babka and s’mores. According to More Brewing, the newest addition to the series was released in October 2018 and was made up of a new base stout that was brewed with “more oats, more complex grains and has an even higher starting gravity.”
Named Henna Batch 4: Café De Olla, the stout was inspired by “spiced Mexican coffee” and also incorporated Tugboat Coffee, cinnamon, cocoa nibs and vanilla. When it was released on Oct. 6, 2018, Henna Café De Olla was packaged in 16-ounce cans ($12.50) and featured a two can per person purchase limit.
There have been four different packaged releases in More Brewing’s non-barrel-aged Henna Series so far:
- Henna Batch 1: Double Rainbow (11.8 percent ABV) — August 2017
- Henna Batch 2: Cinnamon Babka (11.8 percent ABV) — October 2017
- Henna Batch 3: S’more (12 percent ABV) — January 2018
- Henna Batch 4: Café De Olla (12 percent ABV) — October 2018
The Henna Café De Olla pours thick and black like motor oil from the can with very little head; in fact, there is less than a half inch of tan head that quickly dissipates leaving very little trace behind. The aroma from the glass is full of aggressive notes like dark chocolate, rich coffee and creamy oak as well as sweet marshmallows and vanilla.
Flavors explode on the palate from the first sip: a strong and bitter dark chocolate note leads the way, with a combination of distinct espresso and sweet vanilla dominating the finish. There is a surprising amount of carbonation present—especially when considering the lack of any noticeable head—and while there is cinnamon present, it is a very slight note that is easily overpowered at times by the rest of the flavors. As to be expected from what I saw when I poured it, the mouth feel is close to perfect, thick enough that it adds substantial body to the experience, but not so thick that it becomes tiresome or annoying.
As the Henna Batch 4: Café De Olla warms in the glass, the profile changes substantially. Not only does the cinnamon note that was—at best—a background note when the beer was cold become a major player, the sweetness on the finish changes a bit, almost reminding me of honey.
For the last half of the beer, the dominant flavor is a combination of Mexican chocolate drizzled in honey sweetness that I find extremely appealing, to the point that I really do not want it to end.