During a given calendar year, I tend to drink many different craft beers, covering many different styles. So, forgive me if my memory of a beer I had a year ago is a little cloudy. If memory serves, however, last year’s Xocoveza offering had more coffee and chocolate and less pepper.
This year’s offering from Stone Brewing fools you. On the nose, you get hit with sweet chocolate and roasted malts but on the tongue, this year’s Xocoveza has the veggie pepper flavor up front that is cut by the sweetness that I remember from last year’s offering. Do I think “Mexican hot chocolate” when I drink this beer? Not exactly but it’s not not enjoyable.
I think the key to this beer is to let it warm. I drank it out of a standard beer mug but after a few sips I stopped using the handle and grabbed the glass with both hands and tried to warm it as best I could, as fast as I could. And it paid off.
Once warmed a little, the veggie taste ebbs, it allows the subtle vanilla to exaggerate the chocolate and malts and bring about that Mexican hot chocolate feeling I remember from last year. It’s sweet and indulgent and makes me actually anticipate the coming days filled with wind and snow–and the pepper makes me wish I had a fire place in my apartment.
My beer was bottled 10/2/16. Letting one age until December for comparison is good idea, and you better believe I’ll be grabbing a sixer of this for family, Christmas get-togethers. I’ve never really enjoyed the holidays, but now that it’s acceptable for me to bring beers like Xocoveza–or beer in general–to family functions, the season is just a bit more jolly.
Overall, I give Xocoveza 2016 a 4/5. It’s a great beer by a great craft brewery. It’s thick but not too thick, sweet but not too sweet and indulgent without being overbearing. Finally, based on the experience I had with it after it warmed, if there is a six pack on a shelf, I’d opt for that over the sixer in the cooler.