Westbrook Brewing Co. was founded in late 2010 in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. by Edward and Morgan Westbrook. In 2011, the brewery was in action blending ingredients and producing beers that became a big hit.

For the brewery’s first anniversary, the Westbrooks wanted a beer that would be over the top and something that would truly commemorate their hard work and success in the industry. The beer would need to be a bold blend of ingredients, something that people would talk about and something that would last a lifetime.

That beer is Mexican Cake, an imperial stout brewed with cocoa nibs, cinnamon, vanilla and habanero peppers. Unless you have been living under a rock, most craft beer enthusiast will know this beer, and like myself, have had at least a half pour or even better, a whole bottle of this beer during their craft beer journey. I am fortunate to be able to have in my hands a full bottle for the second time. Released from the brewery in lower than usual quantities, the secondary market has exploded, to say the least. It is no surprise to see a 4- or 5-year-old bottle sell for $50, $100 or even more. The price goes to the next level if you are lucky enough to get one of Westbrook’s even rarer bottles, which takes the aforementioned base beer and ages it in various barrels. Over the last several years, some of the barrels that have been used for this aging process have included ones from Pappy Van Winkle, Port wine, Tequila, Brandy, Four Roses Bourbon and many many more.

This stout comes in at 10.5 percent ABV and is brewed with Chinook hops, American ale yeast and chocolate with dark crystal, oats, pale and roasted barley malts. I have not been fortunate to have any of the variants, but am excited to open my second bottle today, bottled on May 13, 2020.

From a 750ml bottle, a medium pour down the middle of a Spiegelau stout glass produces about an inch of light brown head and a mysteriously deep and very dark brownish-black color. The aroma is bold and right in my face with chocolate, sweet malts and a cool vanilla nose.

The first sip delivers a semi-sweet, cocoa powder induced slap to the face, only mellowing after 20-30 seconds with a cooling vanilla. This tastes like a very rich, high cocoa chocolate cake. After the initial taste, a get an ever so light feel of the habanero pepper and a bit of dry cinnamon powder. The bitter chocolate is almost to the point of dominating everything until the very end, when it allows the other adjuncts to play a small role in this production. As of yet, alcohol is not a player and I would never guess the stated ABV.

After letting this one sit for about 30 minutes to increase the temperature, I try again to see what has changed. The vanilla has definitely become more of a player along with light increases of the cinnamon and habanero. The mouth feel is coating, yet dry from the amount of cocoa and cinnamon that is climbing up the rungs of the ladder. The habanero is a nice touch but I felt it is a touch undervalued. The finish is, once again, dry and the current flavor profile remains the same for the finish of this bottle.

Westbrook Mexican Cake (2020)
BREWERY: Westbrook Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
STYLE: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.5 percent
IBU: 50
PRICE: $17.49
RELEASE DATE: 2012 (Bottled May 2020)
AVAILABLE IN: 22-ounce bottles
BEERS POURED: One
Overall, Mexican Cake is a beast of a beer with a lot going on with the flavor profile. In my opinion, the dry cocoa feel is a bit too dominant and takes away from the other ingredients, though they do have their few minutes of fame. I would have liked the habanero to provide more heat and the dryness of the cocoa and cinnamon to have taken a back seat. Still, this is a nicely complex beer that I would drink as many times as I could get it.
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