Official festival beers are a tricky proposition. The goal is to appeal to a wide variety of drinkers while still retaining a decent amount of personality in the beverage’s flavor. Easier said than done.
Usually, this approach results in an overly drinkable brew built for imbibing late into the night, one low in alcohol like the 4.2% Christmas Jam Session Ale from Asheville Brewing Co. and Sierra Nevada for last December’s Warren Haynes Christmas Jam. It therefore came as some surprise when Wicked Weed announced that its Moogfest release would be a Chocolate IPA, a strange combination that carries with it a potentially slow-drinking 8.4% ABV.
So, does Wicked Weed’s gamble pay off? Very much so. Unexpectedly golden in color, the 16 oz. pour packs a reasonably large hoppy taste that’s exceptionally balanced considering the strong opening taste. The flavor remains smooth throughout and finishes clean and fresh for an effect far lighter than its specs suggest.
As for the addition of chocolate nibs from French Broad Chocolate Factory, they have more of a subliminal effect. Were it not titled as such, one might not pick up on that subtle ingredient, which exists primarily as an undertone with tiny hints on the finish. The fact that the beer isn’t dark also leaves thoughts of cacao more fully to the imagination, like the Moog synthesizers’ wood in which the batches were aged.
Overall, the Moogfest Chocolate IPA ranks as one of Wicked Weed’s best creations to date. Though it comes in a full pint serving like its IPA cousins Gluten FREEk and Freak of Nature, the novelty factor and limited quantity (just 15 barrels were brewed) makes the size feel like a steal, especially with its $4.25 price tag.
More importantly, the beer makes for an excellent festival beverage. I could see it going over well for hop heads and casual drinkers alike, though its drinkability makes it a potentially dangerous brew. Sip slowly, if you can.