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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Odd Side Ales Mayan Mocha Stout: A Review

Eric Traver is a craft beer enthusiast and accomplished homebrewer. Winner of a gold medal in Siciliano's 2013 Homebrew Competition, he lives and brews in Clarkson, Michigan. Read more of his writing on his blog,

Odd Side Mayan Mocha Stout
By Eric Traver

This past summer I had the opportunity to travel west to a grand Michigan town that offers a safe haven to boaters and vacationers along the picturesque Lake Michigan shoreline. This town, aptly named Grand Haven, is home to Odd Side Ales, a brewery known for churning out some of the great eccentric beers being produced today.

As I set out on my cross-state journey, I was eager to check Odd Side off my "to visit" list of Michigan breweries. (It should be noted that with new breweries popping up everyday, crossing every brewery off my list will be no easy feat to accomplish). The unfortunate thing about this story is that while in Grand Haven to visit friends, I never had the chance to make it into the ex-piano-factory-turned-brew-pub to sample their offerings. No matter. I knew my path would soon cross again with Odd Side's.

The place we met was a bottle of their Mayan Mocha Stout ($2.19/12oz at Siciliano's). This stout is brewed with coffee, cinnamon, nutmeg and habaneros, a combination of ingredients that intrigued me. It seemed to be an uncommon but perfect combination for a cool autumn evening nestled up with a bowl of hearty venison chili. Being a homebrewer, I have been greatly influenced by other brewers who use unique combinations of ingredients—Short’s and Dogfish Head come readily to mind—and I have come to appreciate brewers who take risks. Let’s dig into the risk that Odd Side took to create a stout that is spicy in more ways than one.

Mayan Mocha Stout pours black, as in no-light-shall-pass black, with a thick dark tan head that holds up for a short time. Roasted barley and coffee take the lead in the aroma department as expected from an American stout. The spices and pepper were not prominent in the aroma, which I like, and I’ll let you know why shortly. The first sip is like a dance to the Mayan Gods in your mouth. The combination of coffee and cinnamon mixed with the carbonation level and the mild sting from the habanero peppers is hugely surprising. The aroma completely hides the complexity of the beer until it rests upon your taste buds. It is this surprise which is what makes this beer so enjoyable. And don’t let the habaneros scare you away. The sting only lasts momentarily paving the way for the lingering flavor of coffee and vanilla.

Pair this complex beer with a bowl of spicy chili or a pulled pork sandwich. I guarantee you will not be disappointed, and don’t be afraid to drop an unmarked pint of this on one of your stout loving friends. It will surely catch them off guard and leave them wanting more.

Odd Side Ales Mayan Mocha Stout is available at Siciliano's Market for $2.19/12oz.

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