Iron Springs Brewery — Mocha Porter — 6%
Every November, this Fairfax, California brewery indulges in a month of artisan chocolate-infused beers. This year they really hit what I found to be the perfect balance of chocolate, coffee, and British malt flavors with their special Mocha Porter.
Starting with a base of their English-style nitro-poured Fairfax Coffee Porter—a great beer on its own, owing to an infusion of java from the Fairfax Coffee Roastery up the block, an unobtrusive mix of Horizon and Crystal hops, and a deliciously hearty grain bill—the brewers have added cacao nibs, described as “small pieces of crushed roasted cacao beans” from San Francisco chocolatier TCHO.
This porter pours an ebony black with a super-tight milkshake-like head. The cacao really permeates the nose—leading one to believe that perhaps it is chocolate milkshake floating on top. The roasted malt and the coffee aftertaste play off of each other nicely and the mouthfeel is like liquid velvet.
Indulgent? Sure, but on a rainy Saturday, what better way to avoid the burgeoning Christmas shopping crowds than to duck in for a wee pint of heaven?
Iron Springs Brewery — Black Magic Rye P.A. — 8%
Now this is a pint of different color—OK, it’s actually the same color (blacker than black) as the Mocha Porter, and the tight head, although a third as thick, does look a little milkshakey, but that where the similarity ends.
The nose the Black Magic Rye P.A. throws is all hops: Simcoe, Citra, and Amarillo all up front and heady. I went into this one blind, but upon first sip, I realized I was drinking the thickest, toastiest, Black IPA I had ever tasted. Iron Springs uses 100 pounds of chocolate rye malt per batch, and that roasted character anchors the high IBUs very nicely.
This is a new one on the big board, and I hope it sticks around a long time.