Mikkeller’s Mexas Ranger tends to defy expectations derived from its ingredients list. Instead of a spice bomb, or something that makes you think of taco night, this tastes instead like, well, an especially well-handled sweet stout or strong porter around 8% ABV. It’s just 6.6%, and brewed with a collection of ingredients that normally have little to do with dark beers.
Mexas Ranger pours a pitch-black hue with just a hint of cola-colored light coming through near the edges. The deeply colored brown head is formed by small bubbles that linger endlessly on the sides of the glass. Plenty of viscosity, and body that’s rather remarkable from a sub-7% anything and that most likely comes from the black beans and almond milk (two of the six special ingredients). Both of these will offer up fermentable sugars, but will also tend to leave some residual sweetness behind.
The aroma prominently showcases a third ingredient: That cocoa addition manifests as the chocolate-focused, robust midsection of this beer throughout, aligning with a base beer that brings in plenty of roast, milk and dark chocolate, and a welcomed amount of specialty-malt bitterness. The first sip offers up a miniscule-bubbled carbonation that contributes vibrancy at the tip of the tongue, with that viscous, palate-coating, cocoa-laden goodness following behind. In the mouth is where the spices play out, offering a peppery counterpoint and mild touch of fiery heat to temper that core chocolate-layer-cake sweetness.
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We’re inclined to enjoy our remaining bottles on the fresher side. For food pairings, we’d try this alongside spicy fare like fiery barbecued pork.