Top Shelf

Mole Stout, modern dance and Mojo

by Chris Aaland

Stop the presses! The much-ballyhooed Ska seasonal stout program officially launches when Autumnal Mole Stout (that’s mo-LAY, for those of you who confuse the wondrous Mexican sauce with the ugly little mammal with an extra thumb on each hand) hits liquor store shelves on the autumnal equinox – the first day of fall – or today (Thurs., Sept. 21), in layman’s terms.

Ska honcho Dave Thibodeau recalled that while the brewery was working out details of a summer stout, the proverbial light bulb turned on over their heads. “We’re sort of known for our milk stout, and we thought a summer stout in a can would be a great idea,” he said. “We’re no geniuses, but even we realized that if a summer is good, a stout for each season is even better. Put them in cans and all of your stout problems are pretty much solved.”
Those in the know (and don’t turn and run at the sight of dark beer) already knew that Steel Toe Stout was one of Ska’s most decorated beers, with recent wins at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival and 2012 World Beer Cup – the two largest beer fests in the world.

As such, a new canned, seasonal stout will be released for each subsequent season, through summer 2013 unless – gasp! – doomsday prophesiers are right and the world ends this Dec. 21. If that’s the case, we’ll enjoy three months of slightly spicy, slightly chocolaty goodness and never taste Ska’s three subsequent brews in the series.

But let’s not dwell on Mayan predictions. Autumnal Mole Stout is ale brewed with cocoa nibs, spices and three different chile peppers. Thibodeau cites proximity to New Mexico and its good eats as the inspiration. “Southwestern cuisine is heavily under the influence of Mexico, which brings its own unique European influences to the table. You could call this beer ‘locavore-inspired,’ but we really just wanted to make the perfect stout to pair with enchiladas and mole poblano.”

(Columnist’s note: It’s hard to believe that I used to wash dishes for a living alongside this Thibodeau character and once let him climb on my shoulders at a Beat Farmers concert in the ’80s so that his 5-foot-nothing frame wouldn’t be trampled in the mosh pit. Dave is so worldly now.)

Ever the amateur historian, Thibodeau and his Bodo boys chose packaging designs that feature Ska’s Pinstripe skeleton and Mayan influences. Myth-based elements from different parts of the world will grace future releases.

“The Mayans had religious ceremonies related to the equinoxes and solstices, and we can relate to that. Seasons have a governing influence on our lives, too,” he said.

So don’t be afraid of the Chichen Itza look and skulls and crossbones. Just chase down your next batch of green chile and tamales with a mug of Mole Stout and consider yourself lucky.

One thing is certain: beer makes old guys dance. It’s true. I’ve seen it happen – Charlie Musselwhite at the Durango Arts Center about five years ago, in fact. More white-man-overbites than a John Elway lookalike contest. So rejoice! Taylor 2 brings internationally-renowned modern dance to the Community Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Celebrated choreographer Paul Taylor, one of the founders of the art of modern dance in the 1950s, created the touring Taylor 2 dance ensemble in 1993 to ensure that his works could be enjoyed by audiences throughout the world. Back in the day, when his work was so cutting-edge that it often sent confused audience members flocking to the exits, he was dubbed the “naughty boy” of dance. Taylor has set dances to an eclectic mix that includes ragtime, rock, tango, Tin Pan Alley, barbershop quartets, medieval masses, baroque concertos, classical symphonies and scores by Debussy, Handel and more.

It’s still a few weeks off, but get your tickets now for Amy Goodman at 7 p.m. on Sun., Oct. 7, at the Community Concert Hall (she’ll also be in Mancos the following night). Goodman, the founder and creative genius behind “Democracy Now!” is one of the most important voices in progressive media. Though tickets are free, a $10 donation is suggested to offset costs incurred by the event’s sponsors, KDUR and the FLC Independent. Hearing Goodman speak a month before a presidential election? Priceless. KDUR’s Bryant Liggett encourages folks to get their tickets early because this event will sell out … and don’t come begging for a ticket after they’re gone, no matter how well you know him.

Fresh off a Telluride gig on the eve of last week’s Blues & Brews, Psychedelic Mojo returns to the Balcony from 5-10 p.m. Friday (depending on how soon the boys can get there after school). Band mom Shelly Jung promises there will be no rain, as her dad already cut hay. Not sure if I’d trust her: next to the Lawn Chair Kings, Mojo is a sure-fire bet to bring rain at the corner of College and Main … especially if their Sept. 1 gig is indicative of their collective rainmaking skills.

The Summit’s slate includes Gravity A (from New Orleans) tonight, the Poetic Minds on Friday and the Oak Creek Band on Saturday.
Moe’s stuff includes an FAC with Kentucky Deluxe from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Funky Town on the patio with Skittles and Beer on Saturday, and the usual fare of Salsa Night (tonight) and Jazz Church (Sunday).

Elsewhere this week: Pete Giuliani is all over the joint, doing tonight’s Ska-B-Q, a Friday 6-9 gig at Mountain Madness and Sunday’s noon-4 slot at the Durango Autumn Arts Festival; the Boogie Band is back at the Billy Goat Friday; and Black Velvet plays the Balcony at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Thibodeau’s rant about mole got me all hot and bothered about green chile. This week’s Top Shelf list features my half-dozen favorite Mexican restaurants:

1. Bruno’s, Cuba, N.M. The fire may have claimed the original restaurant, but the food remains.
2. Calvillo’s, Alamosa. I take the long route to Denver just to hit their buffet.
3. Charlie’s Spic & Span, Las Vegas, N.M. Worth the Fort Lewis athletic road trip to Highlands.
4. Mi Nidito, Tucson. Carne seca good enough for a president.
5. Tafolino’s, Golden. A bean and chicharron burrito, smothered, por favor!
6. Viva Vera’s, Chama, N.M. Sadly, this one closed a few years ago. Best. Green. Chile. Ever.

Get them enchiladas greasy? Email me at



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