Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

03 February, 2016

Taste the Depths of Winter: Yodo Con Leche by 5 Rabbit Cervecería



Ooh! Two brews from 5 Rabbit in a row. It's my lucky week.

5 Rabbit Cervecería co-founder Andrés Araya is originally from Costa Rica and he tells us gringos on the label of his Yodo Con Leche that "yodo" is Costa Rican slang for coffee and, more generally, means "something rich, dark and intense". This beer will be quite different from Huitzi, a Belgian pale ale infused with floral flavors and named after a hummingbird god who battles winter to allow the return of spring. No avian heroes flaunting their flora to be had here. This is an imperial porter (doesn't that make it a stout?) laced with Costa Rican coffee which means it's an Orphean descent into the Stygian gloom we denizens of boreal climes know all-too well.

In addition to the coffee, Yodo Con Leche is brewed with milk caramel. I will also admit to being quite pleased to read that amongst the grains used was chocolate rye. Being enamored of both dark malts and rye, I had very high hopes for this beer.

Yodo Con Leche looked as I expected – black. While it is really a very deep brown, in a glass it looks positively pitch. No hint that the rebirth of spring is anon to be had. I think that the beer was clear but it was basically opaque and so difficult to tell. My pour produced a moderate light brown head that was gone all-too quickly. The beer's opacity meant I could not tell if there were any bubbles inside.

The aroma smelled very boozy to me. This caught me by surprise as the beer is "merely" 8% A.B.V. and not barrel-aged. But it had an earthy, astringent kind of smell which was alluring. Coffee was also prominent and, being from Costa Rica, had a certain brightness to it, a certain sharpness that I generally don’t taste in African varieties. From the aroma alone I knew that, as the Dave Bowman simulacrum said in 2010, something wonderful was going to happen.

As befitting an imperial porter, Yodo Con Leche has a medium-heavy body. Not motor oil but definitely not a brew to be quaffed. I immediately tasted coffee on my first sip but not the coffee. The rich, roasted flavors of the dark malts hit my tongue first so that coffee flavor was joined by dark chocolate. The coffee coffee then made itself known. While not a big flavor, it gave a nice earthy bitterness underneath the malt. As the ebony elixir made its way to the back of my tongue the rich, creamy sweetness of the milk caramel appeared from out of the gloom. It added just enough toothsome caramel flavor to balance the earthy, roasted flavors of the malts and coffee.

While there was a little lingering sweetness on the finish, a modicum of bitterness from the dark malts joined with some grassy-tasting hops for a surprisingly dry ending. I think I caught just a hint of the spiciness of the rye here too. Sadly, there was no lacing to be had on my glass.

I believe that the 2015 batch of Yodo Con Leche was released in July. I bought my bottle here in Madison later in the summer or perhaps early in the autumn. The bottle sat in my cellar during the interval until last week. I am just not that keen on drinking imperial porters in the heat of summer. February proved to be the perfect time for this beer. Still, while not fresh, it was filled with wonderfully rich flavors. I was surprised that the dark malts contributed relatively little bitterness yet the roasted grain taste shone through. There was just enough coffee and milk caramel to get all of the flavors to harmonize into an exquisite gestalt.

Junk food pairing: Try Yodo Con Leche with some Reese's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. The dark chocolate will complement the roasted grains of the beer while the peanut butter's sweetness will do the same with the milk caramel. The overall effect is to amplify the already big and rich flavors of Yodo Con Leche and take them to a new level of goodness.

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|| Palmer, 9:21 AM

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