The beer equivalent of a Michael Bay film
A Review of hsaWaknoW Chocolate Beer by Bull City Burger and Brewery
Posted on 10/1/2012 by Chops
Every once in a while, a beer comes along that will completely challenge your perceptions. Craft beer fans know this phenomenon as the ''second guesser'' beer. It's that wild and wacky beer that is really, really good, but you have no earthly idea why. It makes you second guess your status as a beer enthusiast by reducing your dissection skills to a garbled mess. I recently came across one such beer at the always reliable Bull City Burger and Brewery. They had recently tapped their hsaWaknoW Chocolate Beer (Wonka Wash spelled backwards), a specialty dark ale aged on Peruvian and Guatemalan cacao nibs. To say this beer is unique would be a gross understatement. Two things happened to me that day that had never happened before. One, I took more beer notes than I ever had. And two, I had to order a second beer just to finish those notes. That being said, this review is going to follow a different format than my usual review. No clearly defined sections this time around. The only proper way to review hsaWaknoW is by using stream of consciousness.

In the glass, this beer has a deep mahogany color that is crystal clear and simply gorgeous. I spent a lot of time just admiring the appearance, holding it up to as many light sources as I could find. It came with a creamy tan head that liked to stick around for a really long time. Considering this beer's mouth watering description, I was surprised by the faint aroma. There isn't much to latch onto at all, just a wisp of dark chocolate resting on top of a sweet malt similar to an amber. The intro was certainly intriguing, but not enough to formulate any expectation. The uncertainty carried into the first sip, and the second, and the third. It doesn't take long to realize that you're dealing with a hodgepodge of beer styles. Brown ale, amber ale, rauchbier, doppelbock, sour ale, chocolate stout, they all apply in some fashion. I noticed that the cacao nibs act as more of an enhancement rather than a focus. I would say that the more steadily predictable trait in this beer was the caramel notes of a doppelbock. And as a big fan of bocks, that made me really happy. Every now and then I picked up on the smokiness of a rauchbier, complete with a charred grittiness vibe minus the feel. As the beer warmed, sour notes of a weak Flanders Red started to appear, but I could never fully latch onto them. The sweet malt of a strong amber is also a dominant base trait and balances well with the caramel sweetness. The finish is a long savory mixture of all the various flavors, but with the chocolate character coming more to the forefront. The beer eventually exits with a balance of malty sweetness and crisp hop bitterness. The hops themselves, while not a major player in the beginning or middle ground, combines with the chocolate to form a Swiss bittersweet exit.

Whew, that was a mouthful. Let me catch my breath for the conclusion...

Overall, Bull City Burger and Brewery's hsaWaknoW Chocolate Beer is a fascinatingly complex beer that is a great deal of fun to dissect. Like I mentioned before, it's a delicious brew and I doubt many beer drinkers can pinpoint exactly why. The mishmash of beer styles and their traits somehow works, and it works really well. I can definitely recommend this beer to any and all beer fans. Novices will be able to say little more than ''wow, this is a really good beer.'' Seasoned drinkers on the other hand will sound more like Michael Bay describing one of his films. ''It's like... boom! The over here it goes braaaugh! Bang bang! Then over there it goes graaaaash! Woooooosh! Pew pew pew!''

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hsaWaknoW Chocolate Beer by Bull City Burger and Brewery
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