Summer is fast approaching, and that usually means drinking thirst quenching, lighter beers that go down easy in the heat. I'm a big fan of summer seasonal beers, but I believe any time is a good time for a good beer. So I like to do what a lot of beer lovers and beer geeks do and mix it up a bit. Its not uncommon for beer lovers to get a stash of winter brews and break them out in the summer months. Styles such as double bocks, barley wines, imperial stout, spiced holiday ales and the like are perfect winter warmers. It is nice to see how these beer fair with a little age on them, and to drink them "out of season." So what better beer to show as example of this than a glass of Hot Chocolate from the Viking Brewing Company of Dallas, WI.
Viking Brewing established itself in 1995, and this is a very small, local micro brewer with distribution limited to the state of Wisconsin. They brew a number of beer styles both ales and lagers, and they brew a number of different seasonal beers. Hot Chocolate is their December-January seasonal release. This beer is a chocolate stout by style, and is very unique and interesting in the fact that it is brewed with organic cocoa and cayenne pepper.
Hot Chocolate pours to a slightly hazy, deep brown to black color with a tight, soapy, tan head that fades, and a moderate to soft carbonation. The nose on this beer is excellent with dark chocolate, coffee, cocoa and roasty aromas. The palate is soft with good dark chocolate, cocoa and coffee flavor. The body is a little thin for a stout to my tastes, but only a minor flaw in my opinion. This beer finishes with more good dark chocolate and coffee flavorful up front, then ends with a nice, spicy, peppery burn that hits the back of the throat and lingers.
The cayenne pepper finish really starts to heat up after this beer warms a little, and I for one love it, making it a very enjoyable drinking experience. Some beers that use hot peppers can be gimmicky, but that is not the case here. Cayenne works well with the cocoa, coffee, and dark chocolate aromas and flavors in this beer. Flavorful and unique, this is the kind of beer well worth trying any time of year. For more info visit: http://www.vikingbrewing.com/