Most people know that I will travel for beer. Especially when the beer is brewed with hot peppers. Recently DuClaw Brewing Company released Cocoa Fuego, a seasonal stout brewed with chocolate and chipotle peppers, so of course I had to get there.
First a little history… Dave Benfield, the head honcho of DuClaw, started homebrewing in college. After graduating, Dave accepted a position in his family’s business, but continued to obsessively homebrew to the point where even his parents figured out he was considering a career change.
His idea was to open a restaurant with a small brewery inside that served its own original craft brewed beer, an idea he thought was originally his own. Once he found out many others had this idea first, he needed something to put him above the rest. In order to make his brewpub stand out from all the other brewpubs, he decided he was going to… “make his cool.”
DuClaw Brewing Company of Bel Air opened in 1996, and within one year it was named “Bel Air’s hippest establishment” by the local newspaper. I guess you could say it was… cool.
Today, Dave works with Brewmaster Jim Wagner to make a line of amazing craft beers, constantly trying new recipes and ingredients. They are inspired by what they’re “in the mood to drink that week.”
Their current production brewery in Abingdon, MD is a large, state of the art facility that keeps up with the growing demand for their beers. DuClaw has four brewpub locations in Maryland, including the original Bel Air location, where we recently enjoyed a meal.
Cocoa Fuego is a 7.5% ABV, 85 IBU opaque black stout brewed with Pale Malt, Chocolate Malt, Crystal Malt, Black Malt and Roasted Barley along with Pacific Jade hops. It is a silky smooth, full-bodied stout with aromas of cocoa and roasted malts. The strong dark chocolate flavor is complemented by a slightly spicy chipotle pepper bite.
I found Cocoa Fuego to be extremely drinkable and delicious. The chipotle peppers offered a slight warmth which complemented the bitter, dark chocolate. I would love to try this beer on cask over fresh jalapeños…
The food at the brewpub is quite delicious as well. I had the kale and quinoa salad served with cannellini beans, sweet onions, carrots, and tomatoes, and I enjoyed it very much. Rich’s hot wings were big and crunchy with a flavorful hot sauce. The new fried banana peppers and pickles appetizer didn’t last long at our table.
The menu at DuClaw changes seasonally and offers something new and different from your typical bar food. There are creative appetizers like Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Jalapeños and Duck Fat Fries and sandwiches including an American Cheese Stuffed Burger and a Gyro. They also offer flatbreads and entrees like BLT Mac N’ Cheese and BBQ Short Rib Ravioli. Vegetarian options, like the Beet Bourguignon, are clearly marked on the menu.
Cocoa Fuego is currently on tap at all of the DuClaw locations and can be purchased in 12-ounce bottles. Use DuClaw’s Beer Finder to see if Cocoa Fuego is available near you.
If you do check out the Bel Air location, be sure to check out Friendship Wine and Liquor just a few miles south of the DuClaw brewpub. They offer a nice selection of Maryland beers, including many DuClaw brews. They also have several New Belgium Brewing Company beers, including many from the Lips of Faith series.
Check out “The Ballad of Cocoa Fuego” here. I think you’ll find it quite entertaining. And they play a Stone Temple Pilots song. So that pretty much makes it awesome.
DuClaw Brewing Company
7000 Arundel Mills Circle
Hanover, MD 21076
16 A Bel Air South Parkway
Bel Air, MD 21015
Bowie Town Center
4000 Town Center Blvd.
Bowie, MD 20716
Baltimore, MD 21240
410-850-4846 Ext. 2