We first brewed Carlota back in early 2017, as part of the Thornbridge Keg-Only ‘Year of Beer’ range. The original beer was something I worked on with a good friend of mine, Mariana Domínguez.
Mariana had applied for a brewing job at Thornbridge a year earlier in 2016, failing to land the role due to the small problem of living 5500 miles away, making any potential commute somewhat difficult. Nevertheless, we kept in touch and her brewing career has gone from strength to strength, from working in small microbreweries to now running her own brewing project, Cervecera Macaria.
In that time, she also worked with us here at Thornbridge and spent time with our friends at Beavertown and Cloudwater, as well as other breweries in Europe, learning as much as she could about European brewing traditions.
As Cervecera Macaria, Mariana has brewed award-winning collaborations, from barley wine to a proper 3.9% dark mild, Mildred, which picked up a medal at the Copa Cervecera Pacífico, one of Mexico’s biggest beer competitions. However, first and foremost, she is great fun and a pleasure to hang out with and I am looking forward to seeing her in person again this year.
Back to the beer. We had the idea to create a ‘Mexican’ stout, inspired by some of the ingredients of Mole Oaxaqueño – a little contrived and stereotypical, one might say, seeing as the craft beer scene in Mexico is now thriving, but the beauty of Mole Oaxaqueño is that it’s quite complex; essentially, there’s a lot of different ingredients all working in balance to create something wonderful.
We used 7 different malts in total, avoiding Roast Barley and using ‘Carafa Special III’, to give colour, body and a mild, smooth malt character. Chocolate is very important in Mole, so we sourced some cocoa husks from Duffy’s Chocolate, an award-winning Chocolatier from Lincolnshire. Cocoa husks are the shells of the cocoa bean from which the nibs are extracted and, when used in beer, give a wonderful aroma of dark chocolate. These went into the hopback to infuse the wort with Mariana’s favourite English hops, Fuggles and Goldings, along with a blend of deseeded, topped and tailed dried Mexican chillies. Don’t expect a great deal of heat – we used Ancho, Pasilla and Mulato chillies; these are all mild chillies, but with magical flavours of chocolate, sweet raisins and dried fruits. We also used a little chipotle too, to add a touch of smoke.
Midway through the fermentation, we added the same blend of chillies, some smashed cinnamon sticks and also some vanilla pods, which added depth to the already delicious stout. We finished the beer off with a long maturation in tank to round out the flavours and let the abundance of ingredients meld together.
The resulting beer is dark, smooth and chocolatey, with flavours of caramelised sugar, warming spice and roasted coffee. It’s an absolute treat and we’re really proud of how well it’s turned out again. As well as Carlota going into can (and a few kegs for Mexico), we’ve also brewed it specifically for the May 2022 Cask Year of Beer, so it’ll be on draught in all the finest licensed establishments. Please let us know how you enjoyed it best.
Dominic Driscoll, Production Manager Thornbridge Brewery