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The Story of Mocha Death

From The Iron Horse Brewery Blog

The Story of Mocha Death


Ever wonder where we came up with Mocha Death? You either? Yeah well, who asked you anyway.

Whatever year it was I can’t remember but a long time ago we used to make an anniversary beer that was not only for Iron Horse but also for the Beer Shoppe in Yakima, found here and here. These were the little old days when I was selling, mismanaging, doing a little production work and wearing a few other hats so it was likely 2009, let’s go with that. I was speaking with Jeff at the Beer Shoppe (I think) about that year’s beer and he suggested, if I recall which I certainly don’t since I’ve hit my head at least 30 times mountain biking since then, a mocha porter. I logged that into my formerly functioning brain and headed out to see a few accounts and get back to Ellensburg. Within some unmemorable amount of time later I came into the brewery to see a sheepish and concerned look on our brewer’s face at that time.

Me: Hey, what’s going on?
Brewer: Um, I, Um… we have a problem.
Me: Tell me more.
Brewer: So I kind of lost track of the sparge water volume and this batch of Irish Death is um, it’s kind of, well, the starting gravity is about 12% too low.

What this means is that the wort we had produced was a substantially lower gravity than your typical Irish Death. That wort is also close enough to Irish Death that it couldn’t, in good conscience or good business practice be sold as Irish Death while also being too close to Irish Death to be sold as anything else.

Now this was in the time where the only thing we knew about money was we didn’t have enough of it and every day we had less of it. Necessity is the mother of invention right? So, in my then usual fashion I mentally put on my superman cape and began to imagine solutions. My first attempt to solve the problem was a different yeast strain. Apparently I have always been sort of dumb when overcome by optimism because the yeast strain we used was barely different than our house strain so it came as no surprise that the resultant beer was in fact much like Irish Death but no way close enough to Irish Death to be sold as Irish Death.

Hero intervention round 2. Hmmm, didn’t I have a conversation about a beer that could…..OH YES!! Then without any more thought or consideration it was off to the grocery store to buy something like 20 of those little squared off rectangular Hershey’s cocoa containers that if you are as old as me you remember seeing in your household’s pantry as a child and just being pissed that it was bitter cocoa powder that was seemingly good for nothing but always reminded you of how good hot chocolates are. Damn those stupid containers. On my way back I swung by D&M Coffee and picked up a bunch of bags of Hi Octane and the outcome couldn’t have been better.

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No Comments

Brian Hamel
December 9, 2016 7:34 pm

I love mocha death!!

Robert Matson
October 5, 2017 2:42 pm

Only wish it was produced year round and it came in cans, oops that is two….

Kathy Winter
October 6, 2017 10:56 am

I absolutely love Irish death and so glad you goofed up a little and produced Mocha Death. The two BEST beers ever. And agree with the other comment of wishing it was available year round.

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