From the soul of beer to a beer with a spicy soul; it’s a celebration of beer’s building block in this week’s Boulder Weekly.

Up first, it all has to begin somewhere:

And it all begins with the malt. Often called the “soul of beer,” the primary function of malt is to provide yeast the fermentable sugars (maltose) needed to produce alcohol. Additionally, malt contributes color (pale, amber, brown, black, etc.) as well as body (sometimes called mouthfeel) and a variety of flavors.

Go back through history, and you’ll find brewers all over the world using just about every cultivated cereal grain as malt, but then as is now, barley is by far the preference. And, similar to coffee beans, where barley is grown does provide some nuances, but the roasting process is where the action is.

And if you’re looking for some serious roast — along with a host of other ingredients — Uhl’s Brewing Co.’s The Big Molé Imperial Stout is truly something:

Clocking in at a deceptive 13% alcohol by volume, The Big Molé is jet black with a slight translucent brownish/reddish rim. It comes sans head — evidence of its high ABV — but the nose exhibits plenty of cinnamon and vanilla and a tickle of peppery spice. The brew is full and creamy in the mouth, with a good deal of heat between rich and decadent malts. The heat lingers but doesn’t overwhelm. According to the tasting notes, it’s a rather international affair: The cinnamon is of Indonesian and Vietnamese origin, the cacao nibs are courtesy Ecuador, the ancho chilies hail from Mexico and the vanilla beans are Tahitian.

More on malt here and more on The Big Molé here.

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