New Holland El Mole Ocho: Ancient and Tasty

Olmecs, Toltecs and Aztecs, oh my! Everybody thinks that life was so hard back in ancient Mexico. There was the unforgiving jungle, murderous rituals and no cable television.  But they had beer, so how hard could it really have been?

New Holland‘s El Mole Ocho isn’t a recreation of a historical brew like Dogfish Head’s delicious Theobroma, it’s more of a tip of the hat to the flavors and spices of that region, in particlar, mole sauce.

Now the flavor of mole varies region by region like many things south of the border, but most are a mash up of cocoa, spicy peppers and maybe a little coffee.  It’s an absolute joy when made properly and a staple of traditional Mexican cooking.

But does it make a good beer?  Turns out that in the right hands, it sure does.  As I’m a big fan of cutting and pasting, I’ll let the folks at New Holland describe what exactly El Mole Ocho is:

“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.”

Now you can’t tell it from the picture I took (still waiting for the Digital SLR iPhone), but the color of this beer was a mesmerizing clear ruby. I poured it into a fluted glass and it was almost like looking into a crystal ball, as you could see straight through it, but everything was upside down on the other side.  There was a finger of foam that disappeared quickly, letting the light in and making me go “ooh, pretty!” and then proceed to show everyone in my house the pretty beer I had poured.  My kids think I’m nuts, but I was struck by the clarity and color for sure.

The nose was a promise of adventure, with hints of spice, dried fruits and earthy cocoa. The mouthfeel was a little light, but not thin, and  first sip starts sweet, with malty chocolate and dried fruits leading the way, followed by a dry, slightly boozy finish with a little nip of pepper.  Very interesting, and very tasty if you like spicy food.

The coolest thing about this beer (besides the color) is the sneaky way the heat of the peppers build with each sip.  It’s like eating hot buffalo wings – it starts out fine, but about three wings in your nose starts to run and your mouth is pumping out saliva in an attempt to put out the fire.  El Mole Ocho isn’t that intense, but the heat does rise as you enjoy the beer and gets to the point where it’s a big part of the flavor.  It’s a very cool and very tasty feature of this beer.

As a fan of strange brews, I thought this one was terrific.  It’s probably not something you’d want every day, but it’s a Destination Beer – one you seek out, cleanse your palate for and then sit back and enjoy where it takes you.

I suspect it’s a hard beer to make right, and brewing it shows the confidence and chops of the brewers at New Holland.  This beer should put folks on notice that the kids from Michigan aren’t screwing around.

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Categories: Beer, review


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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6 Comments on “New Holland El Mole Ocho: Ancient and Tasty”

  1. Don
    April 21, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    This beer sounds strange and wonderful! It reminds me a little of the Chocolate Yeti from Great Divide, but in years past. See they used to put a little cayenne in with the chocolate to make it b uild like you mention Jim. Unfortunately they took it out this year and the brew has now lost that dimension. This sounds very interesting. What would you pair it with? Taco Bell?

    • April 21, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

      I think it’d be awesome with grilled beef on thick and warm wheat tortillas with slices of avocado and some mild and fresh pico de guillo. Dammit, now I’m hungry!!

      • Don
        April 21, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

        Yeah…Thanks a lot. It is like porn for the mouth.

      • April 21, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

        They already make that, Don. At least that’s what I’ve heard on the streets.

  2. April 21, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    This I would buy. Looks pretty good!

  3. April 22, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

    It was good, Mike. I think it shows a high degree of skill to brew something so offbeat and have it be so tasty. It also shows some guts for brewing a lot of it and releasing it wide (I got it in NJ, and they’re from MI).

    This is the kind of beer that gives a brewer street cred with beer nerds. This way, if the brewers from New Holland happen upon a pack of wild beer nerds in a dark alley someplace, they get a “nerd pass” and are able to make it home to their families unruffled up. There might even be some fist bumping and breathless discussions about the plato scale. Let’s see someone from InBev wade into that nightmare!!

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