Beautiful mud. That's how I would describe this very special beer from the tiny St. Louis beer craftsmen, Perennial. To my recollection I had never tried a Perennial beer before the other night. And when upon meeting my friends from Dryhop at Northdown I saw that the bar had Abraxas, a "chocolate chili" Perennial beer, on tap, I must admit my initial skepticism. I've had chili beers before. Pepper beers that came on too strong, with the spiciness overwhelming the other elements, burning the finish like a cheap hot sauce. To you converts out there that adore this beer, please forgive my admitted doubt I had upon going in. I am now on board.
Because it's a 10% tar beast, it arrived in an 8 oz. snifter. The head is chocolaty brown, the color of your Cocoa Puffs milk (The milk turns chocolaty!). On the nose I picked up some sweetness but I couldn't get a good read on the profile. Oh well. Going in! Marked by a mud-like mouthfeel, this has modest carbonation and a real graininess to it, resembling Ovaltine. It wjas almost like drinking fudge. It has quite the incredible flavor combination, bringing together chocolate fudge, cinnamon, charcoal, and a rather satisfying, earthy, dried chili flavor with mild spiciness. This made the beer seem rugged and made you keep forgetting the chocolate. Your palate craves something sweet each time your sip the rugged, spicy cinnamon and chili that threaten to bury it. These robust flavor make for a long finish, like a grainy coffee. However, I detected no coffee in this beer, even though the spiciness and gravely feel remind of it. The chocolate is a bit milky-sweet with a touch of fruitiness.
This beer is plain irresistible and a fine achievement. Perennial manages to make a spicy beer that's more subtle than the hot sauce beers that scorch your palate. Rather, Abraxas is more like a mole sauce with its spicy and semi-sweet blend of flavors. I don't know what you would follow it up with, if you bravely bother trying at all. Little else would measure up and most else would seem thin and watery by comparison.
4.5 of 5 stars.