[Author’s Note: August is the Dog(fish Head) days of Summer here at The Dogs of Beer. All throughout the month I’ll be looking exclusively at the beers from DFH.]
Theobroma is the third beer in DFH’s ancient ale series. Originally released in 2008, its recipe is based on the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink from the analysis of pottery fragments that were found in the Honduras. While most people know that chocolate and cocoa powder are made from pods from the cacao tree, many don’t know that the genus (and thus full name of the tree) is actually Theobroma Cacao, Theobroma coming from the Greek meaning “Food of the Gods”. Chocolate was a staple in mesoamerica and its use both as a food and drink is well documented. Residue in vessels have shown it to be prepared as far back as 1900 BC. This beer also pairs chocolate up with another ingredient that now a days may seem odd, but back in the times of the Mayans and Aztecs was quite common, chili peppers.
While there are an abundance of pollinators for many of our crops here in North America, the cacao tree’s flowers only have one pollinator, the Forcipomyia midges in the order Diptera, an order of insects that also includes gnats and mosquitoes. So the whole world’s supply of chocolate depends on a tiny little gnat. Makes you want to treat them with more respect. But since there are no cacao trees here in Delaware, I’m swatting every gnat and mosquito I see. With extreme prejudice. Let’s taste.
THEM: Theobroma is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs , honey, chilies and annatto . From Wiki: “Annatto, sometimes called roucou or achiote, is derived from the seeds of the achiote trees of tropical and subtropical regions around the world. The seeds are sourced to produce a carotenoid-based yellow to orange food coloring and flavor. Its scent is described as “slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg” and flavor as “slightly nutty, sweet and peppery””. ABV 9% IBU 8
ME: You know, I actually came into this think I wasn’t a big fan of the ancient ale series, mostly because I’m not a big fan of Midas Touch. But I can’t lie (and no, I’m not lying), I really like this beer. It’s beautiful in the glass, well carbonated with a nice vortex of CO2 coming up from the bottom. The color is almost amber, which belies the deep flavor that’s waiting to be experienced. The initial nose is malt, with hints of chocolate that I really can’t separate into any distinguishing categories and very playful fruitiness that peeks through. Most people who smell this would just say chocolate, so let’s leave it at that.
The flavor takes on some layers, as I definitely get a “powderiness” that I’d associate with cocoa, but there’s also a nice rich chocolate hitting the middle. The honey seems to also be floating around in the middle, supporting everything else that’s going on. As far as the chili are concerned, well let’s just say up front that this isn’t Ed’s Chili Cave beer. The heat becomes apparent as a nice warmth as you get to the middle of your first glass, but it’s not smacking you in the tongue like those Tums commercials. By the time you’re at the bottom, you definitely have that spicy pepper sensation going on. This is well crafted, by that I mean that everything is there, but it’s there at the levels I want it to be. Not to over powering, not to shy. The finish has a little stickiness to it, but doesn’t weigh your mouth down with a 16-ton anvil of sweetness.
This beer is exactly what is described, but not all blown to the Nth degree like a lot of sledgehammer beers out there. It’s flavorful enough to deliver what’s promised, but subtle enough that you can actually enjoy it, rather than being drowned in it. Again, the 9% ABV is hidden well, but I’m sure you’d be feeling it by the bottom of the bottle (which I won’t be seeing tonight, other things to do).
I love chocolate, and I love a little heat (well actually I love more than just a little heat, but not in my beer) so I’m going full on kegerator on this one. In my mind there’s just nothing wrong with it. Except that I don’t have a kegerator to put it in.
Time for another beer…