Xibalba: Pumpkin Ale from Hell (in a good way)
I’ve recently become aware of a brewery from Asheville, NC called Wicked Weed Brewing. I haven’t really been the biggest fan of Asheville, so I have purposely stayed away from these beers. I mean, come on! What do hipster guys know about brewing beer? Also, they’ve only been around since 2009. They can’t possibly be brewing great beer yet! I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong, and, boy, was I wrong! I should have been drinking these beers since I first saw them. Xibalba Pumpkin Ale is my first from Wicked Weed, and it will not be my last!
Let’s start with the name. Xibalba (pronounced she-bahl-bah) is an ancient Mayan word for the underworld. It translates as “Place of Fright.” (For some interesting reading on Xibalba check out the Ancient History Encyclopedia. Go ahead! Learn something new today!) A pumpkin ale with a bada– name like that? I was in!
Xibalba pours a very dark brown that doesn’t let much light through. It has a 1-finger, foamy head that sticks around for a while. Eventually, the head reduces to a medium film that provides some good lacing. It’s a nice-looking beer!
The aromas start off with a good amount of pumpkin. A huge note of dark chocolate follows quickly. The chiles ride just on top of all the other spices. Some sweet berries and dark fruit emerge as it warms. Alcohol shows up at the back of the nose.
The flavors start out as the aromas do; lots of pumpkin and dark bitter chocolate. The chiles provide a lot of big flavor and a spicy kick. There is a berry note that is wrapped in ash that I find very interesting. The burn from the chiles covers up most of the alcohol flavor. Something strange is a big time pine sap funk toward the back of the palate. It isn’t unpleasant, just a little weird. The finish is dry, and the chile burn continues into the aftertaste.
This may be the most interesting pumpkin ale I’ve ever had. I give it a 4.5 out of 5. I highly recommend picking one up if you find it. It’s a bit pricy, but worth a try.
Forgive me for being so hesitant, Wicked Weed! I think I need to stop prejudging!