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Calavera, which means “skull” in Spanish is a small Mexican brewery specializing in types of beer typically not found in Mexico. I picked up a 750ml bottle of Mexican Imperial Stout at The Beer Box in Tijuana. It’s bottle conditioned and weighs in at 9% ABV and used chili peppers for a very Mexican take on the style.

It pours black letting no light through with a solid tan head. The alcohol comes through in the smell as do the hops, I can also smell chili peppers.

This is a beer that needs to be drank fairly warm. The label recommends 10-13 degrees Celsius (approximately 50-55 degree Fahrenheit). Bitterness from the hops and roasted barley dominate the flavor. The alcohol is very apparent. The finish tastes strongly of chili peppers, there isn’t much heat or spiciness, but the flavor of chilies.

This is a beer I would love to age and taste with a few years on it, hoping for the hops to mellow out a bit and let the sweetness of the malts and maybe even more of the chili flavor to stand out. But I’ve been warned that Calavera’s current bottling system is inefficient and the possibility of oxidation is high. This beer isn’t easy to find (it’s not distributed in the US) but if I can ever get my hands on another bottle I will age it for a few years to see how it stands up.