Now we’re getting somewhere. Every November, Perennial releases a new version of Abraxas, their flagship imperial stout. This beer comes in at 10% ABV and 80 IBU. Perennial labels Abraxas as “an Imperial Stout brewed with ancho chili peppers, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and cinnamon sticks. Pouring deep brown with a thick head, this beer has a complex body with a delicious lingering roastiness. Abraxas is brewed with unique ingredients intended to challenge and excite the palate. It may be enjoyed right away or allowed to age in the bottle. Vertical tastings are encouraged.”
Every November, Abraxas arrives and all is again right with the world. The last couple years during the release, Perennial will also sell a Coffee Abraxas and a Vanilla Abraxas to go with this monster of a mexican imperial stout. And yes, they have a barrel aged version as well, but this review is for plain ole Abraxas.
This is straight up ink in a glass. Thick, chewy and syrupy, this beer pours with one of the darkest caramel heads I’ve ever seen. Cinnamon and coffee on the nose and an earthy sweetness, if that makes sense.
Abraxas may look like motor oil, but the taste is so far from it. The cinnamon assaults your tongue and mixes beautifully with the chocolate, vanilla and coffee to create that one-of-a-kind sweet bitterness. Then the ancho chilies kick in and adds the heat on the back end. The only problem I see with this beer is that I can’t drink enough of it. I will say, however, that Coffee Abraxas was better than regular Abraxas in 2017, which is saying something because this beer is amazing. Abraxas is traded all over the world, and a lot of beer instagrammers call this a pastry stout. I know the world is divided on the term “pastry stout” but this beer is as close as it gets. The hype is real. This beer is 2nd to none.
Interestingly I’ve had some beers that are similar to this one. Schlafly’s Mexican Chocolate Stout is similar in taste, but that’s about it. I’ve called it the “poor man’s Abraxas.” It’s a lot thinner with some cinnamon. Not bad if you don’t have access to Abraxas or the cash to spend $25 or more on a bottle. Mexican Coffee by Funky Buddha (Oakland Park, FL) is a little closer to Abraxas, but it is strictly a barrel aged version. Funky Buddha touts it as a classic cafe mexicano beer. It’s damn tasty and sweeter, if that’s even possible, most likely due to the Tequila. Christmas Bomb from Prairie Artisan Ales (Krebs, OK) is another beer similar to Abraxas, but it’s not quite as thick or as tasty. It’s really good, don’t get me wrong, and heavier so be careful with that one! Mexican Cake by Westbrook Brewing (Charleston, SC) is similar to Abraxas and probably as close as I’ve tasted. It’s a smooth, tasty beer with less IBU, but still damn good. However, if you can swing it, get the original from Perennial and enjoy the decadence.
Part of me wants to lump Derivation by Side Project into this mix, but that would be a disservice to Side Project and that fabulous beer. Derivation, depending which blend version you get, is on a whole different level but Blend #6 does share some similarities with Abraxas. Derivation Blend #6 is brewed with freshly ground cinnamon, cacao nibs and vanilla beans. However, Side Project barrel ages EVERYTHING so this beer clocks in at a massive 15%. Plus, it has almost no head and is served nearly still. But that’s for a different review. Cheers! 🙂