Review: Stone Xocoveza Stout

Originally posted in The Brandon Sun, February 10, 2017

Last week I went to the 10th & Victoria Liquor Mart to pick up my usual selection of Unibroue beers with a couple of India Pale Ales mixed in for good measure. As I was walking to the register to pay for my beers I noticed a display at the cash register entrance. The display featured two beers - Bridge Brewing’s Uganda Sipi Coffee Brown Ale and Stone Brewing's Xocoveza Stout. I’ve reviewed BC's Bridge Brewing in the past and all their beers are solid but what popped out at me was Stone’s Xocoveza. Stone Brewing is amongst one of the top 100 breweries in the world and while their beer is currently available in Manitoba already with their Arrogant Bastard Ale, I never expected to see any other Stone Brewing beer available in Manitoba.

Stone’s Xocoveza is also one of the most interesting stouts I’ve ever had in my life. The stout was meant to be savoured over the holiday season but as we know already - it usually takes longer to get good beers in Manitoba. Since it’s still winter and the windchill is still hovering around -30 on any given day, the beer is still worthy of the season. Xocoveza is brewed with cocoa, coffee peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. When I bought the beer, I never noticed peppers on the label so when I tried the first sip, it really surprised me!

Xocoveza pours your typical stout with it being a heavy black beer, dark burnt caramel hue and a light amount of yellow cookie dough head on top. The aroma is reminiscent of your typical chain coffee shop - in particular: Tim Hortons. The aroma has a combination of multiple pots of coffee being brewed all at once, donuts and a hint of hot bubbling chili. There’s also a hint of dark chocolate in there as well as a hint of milk. The taste is what really surprised me - Since I didn’t notice the word “peppers” on the front of the label I really never expected spicy peppers in the mix. The flavour gives off notes reminiscent of Subway’s barbecue sauce - a sweet, tangy yet spicy concoction, as well as a great deal roasted coffee, a moderate amount of creamy milk chocolate, cinnamon and a hint of nutmeg. It’s very much a sweet and savoury beer in my opinion.

This is actually not the spiciest beer I’ve ever had in Manitoba - Rogue’s Chipotle Ale wins that award but the up-front spiciness of the pasilla peppers in the first sip shocked me but as I kept drinking this, I really liked it. Sure, the flavours that made it reminiscent to Subway’s barbecue sauce make it seem weird but as the beer mellowed out as I kept drinking it, it was more like a Mexican drinking chocolate - a creamy hot chocolate with a bit of spicy heat to it thanks to the peppers, cinnamon and nutmeg. This isn’t something I would recommend to the casual beer drinker - this is for the stout lovers and for those who like a bit of spice or sweet and savoury foods. Stone’s Xocoveza Stout is available for $4.95/355mL bottle at Liquor Marts in Brandon and Dauphin. 8.1% ABV. 4/5 Pints

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