New Belgium Lips of Faith Cocoa Mole Ale: This stuff is wild!

I am so glad that New Belgium made this beer.  Why, you might ask?  Because this beer, more than any other that is available commercially from them, has restored my faith in the brewing chops at New Belgium.  This beer is an ale that is brewed with cocoa and spices and comes in at 9% ABV, and is the MOST unique and interesting beer I have EVER tasted.  I’m not sure if you could even call this beer, except it was brewed, and so I guess it qualifies, but that is where all resemblance to beer ends.

In most cases I would say that is a very BAD thing, but in this case it works for me.  I am certain this beer will be a love it or hate it proposition, you’ll either think it is an amazing representation of the brewers craft, or you will hope the brewer drowns in a vat of mole never to be heard from again.  I fall into the camp of those that think this beer is brilliant, but not at first.  Let me explain.

When I first got my glass of the Cocoa Mole, and put it to my nose, all I could smell was a HUGE amount of cinnamon.  It smelled like a really bad Christmas beer, with maybe a hint of cocoa and nutmeg in there to boot.  My brain went UGH!  I thought I would hate it.  But being the intrepid beer drinker I am I sojourned on.

When I took my first sip, I immediately thought “Oh Oh this is gonna suck!”  It started out sweet and figgy with all that cinnamon and I thought I was in for a really rough ride, and perhaps a sink pour.  Then something happened, something unique, amazing, wonderful, and magical!  About mid palate I got a hint of the Cocoa proper, not masking itself as fig, then it was this burn!  An intense mouth burn that was so peppery that I thought someone had put Tabasco directly on my tongue!

It was a fire unlike anything I have ever experienced from a beer.  One of my favorite beers ever is the Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti from Great Divide.  I also have a confession, I’m not a huge Chocolate beer fan, but the Yeti has this peppery spice on the back of your tongue that builds as you drink it to give you just that little extra kick.  In terms of heat, this beer has the Yeti beat by a mile!

The heat is from Ancho, Guajillo, and Chipotle peppers and really turns this beer up to an 11 on the Richter Scale.  It coats your whole tongue, and gives it a little pinch at the end.  It actually made me say WOW! when I drank it. I told the server that I wasn’t digging it at first but when that heat hits it completely dries your palate and acts as a cleanser so you are ready for the next sip.

All this said, I don’t think I could drink a whole bomber of this stuff.  It is definitely a beer to share.  I asked my server if it came in a sixtel, and to my surprise it came in a full sized 15.5 gallon keg.  Then I asked how long it had been on tap, and she said about 3 days.  I then asked how much was left, and she went over to the cooler and tried to lift up the keg and could barely move it.  Over half the keg was left.  She said that people liked it, but they were only drinking one glass of the stuff.

And therein lies that issue with this beer.  It is great, but it fries your palate and you want to move on pretty quickly.  I hope they keep experimenting with this brew.  I think it would make a great stout, and barrel aging might really push this brew over the top.  Nonetheless, a great expression of the brewer’s craft, and a very unique beer to be mass producing!  If you see it, pick one up and let me know your thoughts.  If you’ve already tried it, let me know your thoughts below.

-Don

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38 Comments on “New Belgium Lips of Faith Cocoa Mole Ale: This stuff is wild!”

  1. February 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    I haven’t had this yet, but by your description, it sounds like a couple of beers I had last year that had a similar impression on me; one is good, but more than that would be overkill.

    The first was a hoppy vanilla ale at Thirsty Bear in San Fran. The smell and initial taste told me I wouldn’t like it, then as I finished a couple of sips my taste buds what I can only describe as a ‘flip-flop.’ I thoroughly enjoyed that single pint, but I couldn’t do anymore.

    The second was a smoked IPA from Renegade that even the owner, Brian thought was over-smoked. I enjoyed the snifter I had, but again didn’t want more.

    I think as brewers go more and more ‘out there’ that there are more of these. It’s a good beer, but only in moderation, meaning only a single pour.

    • Don
      February 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

      Buy one and share it with your wife Will. I think you will like it for what it is, but also one will be enough!

      • February 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

        It definitely sounds like something she would like, she loves that whole chocolate and chili thing. I think I’ve seen it on tap at a couple of places around town here, so we’ll probably give it a taste.

        • Don
          February 9, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

          That is probably the best way to do it, especially if you aren’t really into those flavors, you could just take a sip or two of hers, and that would do ya.

      • February 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

        We stopped in at Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs over the weekend, and they had this on one of the guest taps so we tried a taster. The wife liked it quite a bit, if she hadn’t had the choice of Trinity’s outstanding beers, she probably would have gone for a full glass of the Mole. I found it… interesting, but wouldn’t go beyond that. Other than the Trinity beers I had, I was much more inclined to the Pliny the Elder they tapped that morning.

        • Don
          February 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

          I think I would pick the Pliny over the Cocoa Mole too, except I might end the trip with the Cocoa Mole. That is a good beer, but one that is good in limited quantities.

  2. DaveSDC
    February 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    Looks and sounds like a solid beer Don! I could definitely see why it blew your palate out though. Wish New Belgium distributed to NJ. Oh well! Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the tasting notes/review

    • Don
      February 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

      They don’t distribute in NJ? I think that is changing soon, thought I read that somewhere. But, it was definitely an experience. One that if you see it, you should try for yourself!

    • February 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

      Dave, You might want to look around a bit–perhaps in PA–as New Belgium does ship to MD.

  3. February 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    Coincidentally, I just had a bomber of this last night. I love it! I am a huge fan of Mexican Chocolate flavors, so this beer was already a nice match for my palate. Plus I love chili beer. I found the spice to be fairly mild. This beer is similar to another Colorado beer that won gold at GABF this year: Copper Kettle’s Mexican Chocolate Stout.

    I am not sure I would like to see New Belgium’s version changed up too much. Barrel aging might limit/knock-out the impact of some of the more subtle flavors that round out this beer. Plus it’s a pretty well attenuated beer and doesn’t have a lot of body.

    • Don
      February 9, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      Funny thing is your description just sounds gross to me, and rereading my account It sounds gross too, but it wasn’t it was a real treat, but like most treats it is best in moderation. I don’t think I could make my way through an entire bomber of this stuff.

      • February 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

        Ha! I guess it does kind of sound gross. Have you ever tried a chocolate bars with chilies? I thought I would hate it and now it’s normally what i buy (on that rare occasion i buy a chocolate bar).

        • Don
          February 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

          Yes Jeremy! I had a dark chocolate chili pepper bar that was about 1.5 oz and I think it lasted me about 10 days. You just need a little at a time, but it was fabulous. I think that is a very good description of what is going on with this beer too.

        • February 9, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

          You guys have got to try candied ginger dipped in dark chocolate! I have to ration them out so I don’t get a chocolate high.

  4. February 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    I’m right there with you, Don. I’ve had a couple glasses of the stuff around town. Each time I think, “WOW fun beer!” But don’t want another glass after I’m done by any means. And while I think the Cocoa Mole is great. I do prefer the chili subtle build of the Chocolate Oak-Aged Yeti or even the less subtle chili of Black Butte XXIII. Cocoa Mole is definitely not subtle.

    Nice hanging with you yesterday, btw! I used the Bridgeport Raven Mad imperial porter in the burgers and in a cream-cheese, sharp-cheddar pub spread that we topped the burgers with. Turned out delicious!

    • Don
      February 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

      That sounds fantastic! I need to go to dinner/breakfast at your house! Between the burgers and the Beer apple fritters for breakfast I’d be a very happy man! It is truly in your face with the chili, but for some reason it doesn’t offend, it is almost inspiring. It is a good beer to begin or finish your drinking off with.

  5. February 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    Sounds “interesting” Don. I like mole–I have a pretty high heat tolerance–but think this is one I might want to get in a tulip glass.

    • Don
      February 9, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

      Agreed Wayne. It is a one time brew for me. I think if I tried to drink oh, say, 12 of them, I’d get real sick real fast! But it is a great one for just one, and I’m thinking you could do some pretty interesting food pairings with it too.

  6. February 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    An afterthought:

    Don said “…to my surprise it came in a full sized 15.5 gallon keg. Then I asked how long it had been on tap, and she said about 3 days. I then asked how much was left, and she went over to the cooler and tried to lift up the keg and could barely move it. Over half the keg was left. ”

    Slow sales is an ongoing problem w/ many beers, such as that Black Cannon I had yesterday. Even though its a great beer–I could drink it all day long–I can almost guarantee that it won’t be on tap at Beck’s again, ’cause most people ain’t willing to give it a try! Another one that’s causing problems on tap of late is Guinness. The last three times I’ve had it on draft (at three different restaurants), its been flat and almost stale (I had to send one back it was so bad.) Now that there are so many micros to try, folks just aren’t drinking as much Guinness so the bars can’t keep the taps fresh. Really a damn shame!

    I think its time the breweries started rethinking their packaging options on some of their brews.

    • Don
      February 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

      I agree Wayne, a sixtel of this brew would be more than enough for most tap rooms. As it is, this will be gone within a week to ten days, things don’t stick around that long at Brewforia, but you are right in the sense that I could see other places really having a hard time moving this beer.

      • February 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

        Yep; another problem w/ something like this is that many chain restaurants want to sell their beer only in pints (makes accounting easier I guess), but a pint of “dessert beer” like this is way too much for the avetager person. I recently passed up just such a beer recently for just that reason (and I did let the management know why.)

        • Don
          February 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

          That’s an excuse to not invest in proper glassware. They don’t need to only sell in pints, they don’t want to buy (and eventually break because they all do) more glassware.

  7. February 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    Sounds a little like the Mikkeller Chipotle Porter that I had a couple of months ago and loved! This one is definitely on the next beer run list! Thanks!

    • Don
      February 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      Glad to help. I kind of hope they experiment with this brew a little. It is good how it is, but in a porter or stout, or with some barrel aging or both (YIKES!) you could possibly get some really complex flavors working here. Difference for me is I could get a tulip of this beer for $3.50 or I could get a Bomber from Mikkeller for $13-$16. Not sure on the LOF Bomber price, but I’m pretty sure it was well under $10.

      • February 9, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

        Totally agree on the experimentation as, like you, I was losing faith in the LOF line. I will let you know the price (here in the Midwest anyway) when I pick it up this weekend!

        • Don
          February 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

          Sounds good Jeff. When Jim and I went to the Denver Rare Beer Tasting in 2010 New Belgium had an extraordinary beer there. It was a Lychee Tart. It had an intense Granny Smith Apple flavor with a puckering tartness that was, well…awesome. Since then I’ve been looking for that type of inspiration out of them, and this is the first beer that fits that bill. Totally different flavor profile, but just as inspired.

        • February 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

          Just to follow up, it was $9 for the bomber here in the Midwest. Although as my schedule would have it, I wasn’t able to crack it open this weekend. Maybe I’ll make it that special V-Day beer that I share with my wife instead of getting her chocolates…to which she will pass and I’ll get to enjoy it all by myself! I love it when that happens!

        • Don
          February 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

          That sounds about right Jeff. Come on back once you crack into it and let me know your thoughts.

  8. February 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    I am excited to try it! I recently tried the Sam Adams specialty series one called “The Vixen” a supposed beer brewed with chili peppers and spices, very disappointed in the spicyness. Spice is tough to complement chocolate. thanks for sharing Don!

    • Don
      February 9, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

      I haven’t had the Vixin yet, but from what I understand it is quite nice, with good complexity. This has HEAT! And it is both shocking and wonderful all at once. Didn’t know how I felt about it at first, then just had to go with its awesomeness.

  9. February 14, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    A little late to the party, but thanks for the review. Cocoa Molé is an absolute revelation for me, I love it. It is a very interesting beer that brings a real molé feel to it, the cinnamon and cocoa are complimented by the heat of the peppers. I can finish a whole bomber, but the 9% ABV encourages me to share it
    Oh, and it pairs amazingly with a chili spiced chocolate as well. I did a quick chocolate and beer pairing for Valentine’s Day on NBB’s blog today featuring Cocoa Molé and Chili’s and Cherries Chocolate from ChocoLOVE (among a couple others two-fers).
    Either way, thanks again, we do appreciate your review.

    • Don
      February 15, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

      Hey Michael, not a problem. I really appreciate how NBB has stepped things up with their Lips of Faith line of beers. I’m not a huge sour fan (Can’t really stand La Folie) but I do appreciate the artisan brewing that happens here. I think it is really important for the big craft brewers to be on the leading edge of this stuff, and I’m glad to see NBB taking that seriously and making some really unique and great craft beers.

  10. February 14, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    And Don, you mentioned Tart Lychee in a comment above. It’s coming out in bottles in May, just an FYI…

    • Don
      February 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

      Yay! 🙂

    • Don
      February 16, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

      This makes me very happy! I haven’t stopped thinking about it since you made this comment! Cant wait!

      • February 23, 2012 at 11:06 am #

        I am glad you are so excited, I am too. This beer is wonderful and I am looking forward to a larger batch.

  11. mike
    March 1, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    Tastes like a dog ate Chile for a week, then someone picked up it’s shit and rolled it into a cigar. Then you take the cigar and dip in hot chocolate and smoke it.

    • Don
      March 3, 2012 at 5:16 am #

      Ok then.

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