Holiday Beer Review: STONE XOCOVEZA

Holiday Beer Review: STONE XOCOVEZA (Mocha Stout with Holiday Spices, 8.1% ABV)
An interesting Mexican-hot-chocolate-inspired beer from Stone Brewing you should try.
Stone Brewing is well known to the craft beer world. They are the ninth largest holiday-beer-review-stone-xocovezcraft brewery in the country, and in 2008 they were voted the “Top All Time Brewery on Planet Earth” by readers of Beer Advocate. Stone’s (extremely) hoppy IPAs are their most famous offerings, and they own the Arrogant Bastard brand. They also make some good stouts, including barrel aged ones (and lots of other stuff, too). Stone’s Xocoveza spiced mocha stout is a good beer you need to try.
That “X” is pronounced like a “Ch” in case you didn’t know. The name “Xocoveza” is a contraction of “chocolate” and “cerveza.” Spelling “chocolate” with an “X” is not just a hipster way to stand out in an overcrowded craft beer market, it is a nod to the Mexican-inspired flavorings used in this seasonal brew.
If you have never had Mexican hot chocolate, you have been missing out. It is made with cinnamon and chili powder, which might sound strange but tastes amazing. Here’s a recipe if you want to impress your friends at a holiday party.
Mexican Hot Cocoa There’s a place in San Diego called the Fig Tree Cafe that makes a great version of Mexican hot chocolate with coffee.
Stone Xocoveza is going after the same Mexican hot chocolate and coffee thing…with beer, of course. The base stout is solid (it is Stone after all). It is black with a fairly temporary tan-brown head. The cinnamon stands out nicely, and the chocolate and dark coffee work well together with the stout, adding a rich, thick bitterness. Pasilla peppers contribute an underlying chili bite mostly at the end (don’t worry, it isn’t a “chili beer” and it isn’t spicy hot). The whole is rounded out with subtle vanilla and more present nutmeg. It is quite sweet due to the addition of milk sugars. I wouldn’t say the sweetness is cloying, exactly, but it is a little hard to imagine having more than one or two. At 8.1%, maybe that’s okay.
Beer Advocate pegs Stone Xocoveza at 96/100 or “world class” based on 3500 reviews. I haven’t run the stats but a quick perusal suggests that more recent reviews are rating it slightly lower than the original 2014 version, which was a huge hit. Untappd has it averaging 4.2/5 on almost 74k ratings. For me, it was a 3.25 or 3.5/5, which in my way of thinking means it is quite good but not great. Too much sweetness is my main reservation. It is on the edge of being a “gimmick” beer in my book. Still, it is interesting and I recommend you try it. Your reaction is very likely to depend on how much you like holiday spices.
With chocolate, coffee, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and sweetness, it sounds like a great holiday dessert. Try serving it with cookies or smores around a roaring fire, or after a holiday meal. I’m sure Santa would love one, too.
Xocoveza was distributed to all but eight unlucky states this year.  Use Stone’s “Beer Finder” to see if it is available in a store near you.
Bill Vanderburgh is blogging his quest to visit all 140+ breweries, brew pubs and tasting rooms in San Diego at He is also on Twitter and Instagram as @CraftBeerIn_SD.
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Bill Vanderburgh

Wanna-Be-er Writer at
Exploring San Diego's amazing craft beer scene and telling you all about it. Originally from Montreal, I can't imagine living through a snowy winter now. I love sailing and photography almost as much as beer. Oh, ya, and I'm a philosophy professor for a living.
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