Mexican Cake is an Imperial Stout originally brewed to celebrate the one year anniversary of Westbrook, and due to its immense popularity, will now be released once every year during the month of May. The Mexican refers to the wonderful list of extra ingredients, including cocoa nibs, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and fresh habanero. Delightful aromas come across like chocolate confections, the most prominent note resembling fudge with walnuts. Vanilla sweetness rounds out the middle register as malts gets smokey with hints of burnt coffee. Alcohol smells a bit like rum. More distant complexities include dark fruit, a pinch of cinnamon, and peppery spice.
The palate begins with smooth milk chocolate, settling into a burnt caramel sweetness. Roasted malts begin to accumulate toward a rich, sultry body of dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and burnt barley. Warm vanilla bean is intertwined along the way, supplemented by the earthy spice of cinnamon, which acts to provide subtle complexity without clear attribution of flavor. As the habanero begins to emerge from behind, I find a genuine flavor of fresh pepper fruit, followed by a burst of spice as capsaicin settles on the back of the throat where it continues as an aftertaste. Sweet malts re-emerge into a body of brown sugar, which acts as a counterbalancing force to measure up to the barrage of dark malts, spice, and 50 IBU’s of bitterness. Flavors of espresso fill in the remainder of the palate as smoky malts gather on the back-end. Hops provoke such minimal impact, they’re hardly worth mentioning except on the basis of their subtle support. The mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, generally quite ‘wet’ over a full, chewy body.
Overall, I find the bitter and sweet components united in supreme balance. Malts are the star of the show, and I would have it no other way. The presence of heat imparted by alcohol merges with the burn of the capsaicin, creating a complementary synergy, thus making it difficult to distinguish one from another. Mexican Cake is one hot item in the craft beer world, and distribution is minimal, so finding a bottle would be difficult. I’d like to thank fellow tumblr beer blogger, Holly George for picking up this bottle direct from the brewery. This is a memorable, tasty treat I hope to see again one day. I highly recommend it!