When looking at the name of this beer, don’t think of the nearsighted underground mammal prone to crisscrossing your yard with annoying tunnels. Think of mole (MO-lay) sauce from traditional Mexican cuisine. According to Wikipedia, mole comes in many forms with different ingredients. This beer was inspired by a beer from Andy Coates when he was brewing at West Mountain Brewing in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Andy now owns Ozark Beer Company in Rogers, Arkansas.) Andy added ingredients to a keg of his stout to bring chocolate, spice, and a bit of heat to the beer. It was delicious.
My first attempt at the beer was on an episode of Basic Brewing Video. Steve Wilkes and I brewed a one-gallon batch as part of a series on small batch all grain beers. On Andy’s advice, we added roasted cacao nibs, a vanilla bean, a cinnamon stick, and an ancho chili pepper to secondary fermentation in a Mr. Beer fermenter for one week.
The resulting beer turned out very nicely. The cinnamon was subtle, while the vanilla boosted the chocolate flavors from the cacao nibs. The heat from the ancho pepper sneaked in at the end for balance. One complaint from the small batch was that the head dissipated almost immediately after pouring. I suspect it was from the oils in some of the secondary ingredients. Also, the English yeast I used may have added a bit of fruitiness that detracted from the rest of the flavor components.
In scaling up to a five-gallon (19-liter) version, I wound up with 14 pounds (6.4 kg) of grain. When the grain bill gets that heavy, I prefer my traditional cylindrical cooler over Brew in a Bag (BIAB). This beer could certainly be brewed without a problem using BIAB.
American two-row, crystal 120, black patent, and chocolate malt made up the base with a bit of rye to help with the head retention issue. I didn’t do anything fancy with the dark grains – everything went into the mash tun at the same time.
I wanted the hopping to be fairly moderate to avoid conflict with the “mole” ingredients. However, I did want a solid bitterness to balance the sweetness. Fuggles did the trick.
I chose Safale US-05 this time to sidestep the fruitiness that we perceived in the first beer.
The beer fermented out very well, and after a week in the primary fermenter, I decided to rack it into a keg. I opened up the ancho chili pepper to expose the seeds. I also split the vanilla beans to allow the beer to have access to the tasty bits inside. All of the steeping ingredients went into a hop sack, which was weighed down with sanitized glass marbles. The sack was tied and suspended in the beer with a length of unwaxed, unflavored dental floss. The end of the floss was fed through the seal of the keg lid to allow easy retrieval if the flavors became too strong.
The beer has been in the keg for almost three weeks, and the flavor continues to improve. I haven’t seen the need to remove the steeping ingredients. The heat from the single ancho chili hasn’t become overpowering yet. In fact, when I brew this beer again, I’d be tempted to add a second chili – or a variety with a bit more heat – to step it up a bit. The chocolate flavor is very rich without being cloying or sweet. I don’t get much cinnamon, so I may add a second cinnamon stick when I brew again.
The addition of the rye seems to have cured the head retention issue. I believe it has also added a nice level of body to the beer, which increases the impression of richness.
Carbonation, bitterness, and a bit of heat balance the sweetness from the malt, vanilla, and cacao nibs. This is a great beer to have on tap as the weather cools. I also anticipate pairing it with the leftover Kit Kats from the Halloween candy bowl.
(Inspired by Andy Coates)
5.0 Gallon (19 Liter) Batch
10 lbs. (4.5 kg) American two-row
1 lb. (0.45 kg) Crystal 120
1 lb. (0.45 kg) Black Patent
1 lb. (0.45 kg) Chocolate Malt
1 lb. (0.45 kg) Malted Rye
60 g Roasted Cacao Nibs
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Ancho Chili (split)
2 Vanilla Beans (split)
25 g Fuggles pellets (60 min.)
18 g Fuggles pellets (15 min.)
Safale US-05 yeast
OG: 1.067 FG: 1.016 ABV: 6.8%
Bring 21 quarts (19.8 L) strike water to 162˚F (72˚C). Add milled grains to achieve a mash rest temperature of 150˚F (65.5˚C). Rest for one hour. Vorlauf, then collect first runnings. Batch sparge with 3 gallons (11.3 L) water at 170˚F (77˚C) to collect pre-boil volume of 6.5 gallons (24.6 L).
Boil for one hour, adding hops at specified amounts and times above. Chill, then pitch yeast.
After primary fermentation is complete and yeast has flocculated, rack to secondary or keg adding the cacao nibs, cinnamon, chili, and vanilla in a tied hop sack. Steep for at least a week before bottling.