A Whole Different Dog

Another tuesday, time for another spicy review.

But this time it’s not another free sample I’ve been sent. It’s a limited edition craft beer made with anchos. And it’s selling fast!

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At 6.7% alcohol content, this drink’s a little on the strong side but its chilli is actually quite a mild one, a dried poblano (known as an ancho) used more for the raisin-like flavour that that process gives it than for its heat.

It is, however, a very popular part of mexican cuisine, being one of the three “holy” molé chillies and thus perfect for pairing with chocolate.

They’ve made this cultural background very clear on the label, with a colourful and chaotic mess of all things mexican and aztec against the black background. It’s ridiculously busy but it actually looks surprisingly pleasant, despite that, and the product name stands out remarkably well with its white text heavily bordered in black.

“Ancho Chocolate Cheesecake”

A crazy collaboration between welsh family sauce makers, Chilli of the Valley and their friends at Mad Dog Brewing Co, who bear no relation to Ashley Foods’ similarly named sauce line.

Mad Dog don’t deal with chilli all the time but, when they do, Chilli of the Valley are the guys they work with.

I can’t speak for anything the two have done together in the past but this one, in particular, seems like a very heavy focus on the flavour, blending a raisiny mild pepper with chocolate, cocoa nibs and all the biscuit crumbs needed to produce a fine cheesecake base. But none of the cheese itself.

Personally, I don’t think that’ll be much of a loss, since cheesy beer doesn’t sound appealing in the slightest, but let’s pop the top and see what we’ve got.

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As soon as the lid is out the way, the aroma is unleashed and the stout-like quality of the product becomes clear, with some strong cocoa coming in behind.

It’s a very dark beer, both in scent and taste but, while I’m not getting any of the chilli on the nose, its raisin-like elements become far more apparent in the mouth. It’s heat, however, is completely below what I can detect. A



on my scale.

I don’t necessarily think of that as a problem but the flavour is what many would call “dry”. Devoid of all sweetness and on the edge of being unpleasantly bitter.

A type of flavour that has its fans but is an acquired taste I haven’t acquired.

It’s not creamy in any way, which I feel is a shame, but it does combine the two main flavours of chocolate and dark stout well with its strong ancho overtones, making it everything it was intended to be.

The biscuit elements are much subtler than the rest but I think that works in its favour. The chocolate and chilli are the tastes that combine best with that of the beer itself so it only makes sense to have them as the most prominent components.

It’s a great blend. Really well made.

Ultimately, though, it’s for a far more seasoned beer drinker than I. “Dry” stout is not for everyone and the rich dark chocolate notes only further push it past the limits of what I can personally enjoy with their own lack of sweetness.

By all means, get it if you like this kind of drink but, if stout isn’t something you’re well acquainted with then it won’t be for you.

This does not strike me as a way to get into “dry” beers but I doubt you’ll be disappointed by it if you’re already into them.

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