Tonight it’s a Cocoa Molé, from New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series, poured straight up into a pair of Avery Brewing Co. tour glasses, inconsistencies be damned.
The deep-brown elixir, it’s tinge of red hinting at a bite that was to come, splashed in the bottom of the glass and swallowed itself up upon becoming full. You could smell the chocolate and the chilies and the process.
Anyone who knows me understands my love for heat, borne in, I have to assume, a Mexican heritage. I was born and raised and still live and work in Kansas, near Kansas City, where my great-great grandfather, Thomas Gonzalez Montemayor, moved to work and start a family, teaching himself English and gaining citizenship in the process.
What I now lack in Spanish fluency, I more than compensate with my hunger (and, yes, thirst) for culture.
This actually wasn’t our first taste of ale laced with molé. Last summer I happened upon a bottle of New Holland’s El Molé Ocho, a similarly rich, similarly spicy beer. Think Boulevard Brewing’s Chocolate Ale, except kicked up a notch. More Mexican, and therefor better because of it.
Perhaps it’s fresher in the mind, but New Belgium’s concoction offered a little more bite, just the right amount. I’m probably wrong, but to get the two side by side is too tempting to become habit forming.
What I remembered about each is that they rightly captured the matrix of spice and sweetness and richness that can be reasonably expected from a dark molé.
I’m sure it’d make sense to pair them with a dessert, though I prefer them alone, the center of attention.
So I sat down next to Annie and handed her a glass one day after work last week. We talked about the day, about work and probably something silly. And we talked about how good it was.
Just like when, on my grandmother’s stove, chicken cooked until it fell from the bone, rice and oil heated in another pan, beans in another, and, in still another, a rich, dark sauce bubbled.
Grandpa sits and the end of the table. Dad, when he’s in, sits at the other end, us kids flanking the sides. After a time, we practically have to beg Grandma to fix a plate and take a seat of her own.
We gauge and comment on the sauce’s heat. Last time it was as spicy as it ever was. We tear a section of tortilla and pinch a gumbo of our entire plate for a bite. The air is humid and smells of peanuts, chocolate, cinnamon and chilies.
These are the things I think of when I think of molé.To say that a glass of ale brought it all back would be dishonest. I never had really stopped thinking of it all.
But when all that is left of your glass is rings along its inside and smells of alcohol, chocolate and chilies, you get that feeling in your gut and want to be with family.
— Stephen Montemayor