(EDITOR’S NOTE: I just want to start this article off by saying that I don’t know much of anything about this product other than what it tastes like. I reached out to Local Option on a few occassions via social media and email and never received answers to the questions I sent them regarding this beer (how it was made, what’s in it, etc.). I delayed this review due to the lack of response. If they get back to me with some more background information, I will revise this article and post again. Thanks for your understanding – Drew.)
Mourning Wood is an oak-aged coffee amber ale collaboration from the demented minds of Local Option Bierwerker and Dark Matter Coffee Company.
EL SALVADOR FINCA SAN JOSE
This farm is located in Sonsonate (Western El Salvador) with altitude ranging from 1379 to 1645 meters above sea level. We actually travelled through this town back in 2011 when we took some time off work, so it stuck to us fairly easily when we started to find out more about this farm. Rummaging the history books, Finca San José was purchased by Mr Rodolfo Ruffatti in 1934. The farm is currently owned by the great-grandchildren, Mauricio Ruffatti and his sisters, Adela and Fiorella.
The farm produces mainly Red Bourbon, but they also grow Pacas and Pacamara. Many of the Bourbon trees in the original plantation are still productive at almost 80 years old of age!
The coffee is processed at Beneficio Tuxpal, which is managed by friend of the Table and El Salvadoran coffee all-star, Federico Pacas.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping Mourning Wood—a collaboration from Chicago’s Local Option Bierwerker and Dark Matter Coffee Company. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Sonsonate, El Salvador
farm: Finca San Jose
producer: Ruffatti Family
elevation: 1350 – 1650 meters above sea level
process: pulped natural
style: Oak Aged Coffee Amber Ale
color: Deep Amber
ingredients: Coffee, N/A
After a very vigorous, aggressive pour into the chalice, Mourning Wood is topped by a thick, creamy, full white head but it dissipates almost immediately, but it does leave behind a lingering lacing that clings to the rim and sides of the glass. Visually, the beer is hazy, cloudy, and colored a deep amber.
The aroma of Mourning Wood isn’t much of a surprise, considering the beer’s style and name. Toasted bread, sweet malts, and caramel dominate the nose, and the oak barrel, which the beer was aged in, provides a subtle backbone. The coffee component is there—a bit—, but I was hoping for a bit more of it.
The taste follows the nose; nothing too surprising here on the palate. The beer is on the lighter side of a medium body; it has quite a bit of carbonation, but it’s also pretty creamy which makes for a nice, smooth mouthfeel and easy drinking. Lots of caramel, toffee, toasted bread and toasted malts, and the oak, which mellows the beer even further… The coffee component is actually/surprisingly the least noticeable part of this beer. If I hadn’t read the bottle, I probably wouldn’t have even known coffee was in this beer, though I do detect some hints of toasted coconut and grape.
It’s a tasty beer, but it has a bit of a funky aftertaste that I’m not sure how to feel about; a little vegetal (green pepper), spicy and herbal throughout the finish.
Full body; creamy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
Hmmm… Well. I’m not exactly sure what to make Local Option and Dark Matter Coffee’s Mourning Wood. It’s a bunch of very tasty weirdness. Not unlike beer, I guess, but also not very much like beer.
It’s an amber ale, so you can’t go into it expecting a big body or over the top flavors. I can say this for it, though: it’s a very solid offering from Local Option—particularly in light of its being such an experimental brew.
It’s well-balanced, it’s flavorful, it’s mellow, and it has some interesting nuances. Not sure you can ask for much more from an amber ale, albeit experimental.
Did you like this? Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome here at the Table! Pull up a chair and speak your mind by entering a comment below. Also remember to like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!
Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.