Review: New Holland El Mole Ocho

In Beer Reviews by The Guys

New Holland says:

“Our exploration into the flavors of mole, the legendary sauce of central Mexico. Malty aroma and rich,cocoa-laden body laced with an invigorating tinge of dried chilies and coffee.”

New Holland El Mole Ocho
Spiced Beer, 8% ABV

Sayeth the Guys:

Karl: When I think of New Holland the first image that comes to mind is my one visit to their taproom when it was handle after handle of nothing but MAD HATTER after MAD HATTER after MADHATTERMADHATTERMADHATTER.  I get it.  You like your Mad Hatter.  It’s almost completely eclipsed every other beer in the New Holland lineup – until now.

The Mole Ocho was a beer I’d been looking forward to trying for a while, and I’m glad I finally got around to it.  It’s immediately taken a place firmly at the top of the “beers from New Holland that aren’t Mad Hatter that I really, really like” list.  Anyone who watched Rick Bayless on Top Chef Masters knows that Mole is a rich, complex dish that has many layers, takes a lot to put together and has a hell of a lot going on.  Putting that term on the name of a beer is pretty ballsy – but believe it or not, this beer lives up to the name.

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On the pour it’s a deep ruby color with a light tan head – already this beer is breaking the rules of the color wheel.  Reddish and brownish?  Where does that make sense at all?  And then – bam! Coffee!  Sour!  Cocoa on the finish!  And then…is that the flavor of creamy chocolate milk as well?  And just a touch of heat?  Maybe some chili back in there?  It’s everything I like – spice, rich sweetness, tart sour, and that undefinable x-factor of brewing that makes me go “God, this is good.”

As the Ocho warms up, the coffee becomes more prevalent and a certain nuttiness emerges.  The coffee becomes stronger, more bitter, almost espresso-esque.  Through it all, that sour never really goes away.  I want more, I want it now, and I want it on draft, as though it could get better.  Maybe it would!  I can still hope, and I feel there are still some more layers to peel back with this beer…perhaps, ocho mas.

Ryan: I haven’t been exposed to many spiced beers like the El Mole Ocho.  The two that spring to mind are Rogue’s Chipotle Ale and Dogfish Head’s Theobroma.  Rogue’s Chipotle Ale was my introduction to spicy beer – and a great introduction at that.  Theobroma took it to another level with all sorts of goodies included (chilies, cocoa nibs & honey).  I really liked both and I was excited to see New Holland come up with something that is not under the Mad Hatter umbrella.

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I actually had this beer on tap shortly after it was released and I was rather unimpressed.  I think I was a culprit, though, of a draft line that was too cold.  I could barely taste anything, which was surprising considering the makeup of this beer.  Fast forward a bit and I decided to give it another shot but this time it was poured from a 22 oz bottle and served at the proper temperature.  That made all the difference.

The nose on the Mole Ocho was a mix of cocoa powder, malts and the slightest hint of spicy heat.  There was also a bit of booze too.  This beer tasted pretty complex with cocoa, chilies and spices up front and a bit of coffee on the back end.  If you let this beer warm up a bit you’ll see that cocoa fade away and the chilies and coffee become far more pronounced.  I think I like this beer more after it’s warmed.  The cocoa and chilies are a nice mix in the beginning, but that blend of chilies and roasted coffee beans is really where it’s at.

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After having this out of a bottle, and served properly, I feel like I deserve a do-over after my on tap experience.  Hopefully I stumble across this beer on tap sometime soon – I bet it would be even better on draft.  Either way you find it, try it, you won’t be disappointed.

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Written by many, compiled by one, this is a collaborative post with contributions from at least two writers at Guys Drinking Beer.

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