Stone Brewing's Xocoveza Charred is our day 11 pick for a beer you must try.

Brewelist Advent Calendar – Stone Brewing Xocoveza Charred

You know the holidays are coming when Stone Brewing puts out Xocoveza, a beer that is inspired by Mexican hot chocolate and is a glorious blend of chocolate, chili and other flavors that culminate in a strong dark beer with a little boozy flavor.

Xocoveza Charred takes that flavor to another level – the base beer is aged in barrels for a period of time, which lends a really nice smoky flavor to the beer. It also mellows things out a little bit.

This one is kind of a specialty/luxury pick as it’s not easy to get. I got lucky and found a bottle at a local grocer. I’m not sure if Stone released some this year after aging it for two years, or if someone misplaced a case back in 2016 and recently found it. Either way, I’m happy for the find and my husband and I enjoyed it a lot.

No, I won’t tell you where because I need to get another bottle or two to share with friends. A normal Xocoveza is still a lovely seasonal experience and is readily available wherever Stone Brewing’s beers are sold.

Style: Mocha Stout
Color: Coal Black with Light Brown Bubbles
ABV: 9.6%
Availability: Limited (i.e. good luck finding it)

 

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A Very Berry Beer To Savor This Summer – Not Berry Hefe – Knucklehead Craft Brewing

Fun fact – 40 lbs of raspberries were added to the fermenter to give Not Very Berry Hefe a noticeable berry hue. The brew is light and effervescent but not sweet, as you may guess from the name. Heck, my husband even liked it and he’s not a fan of fruit beers.

I love raspberries, I love beer – the choice wasn’t difficult.

Knucklehead Craft Brewing has a flagship lineup of the usual stouts, IPAs, a cream ale and a scotch ale year round but they regularly release a limited batch/seasonal offering. The last time I’d swung by was for their Blueberry Muffin Ale, which they served with some blueberries and cinnamon sugar on the rim (I declined that garnish and kind of regret it). It actually tasted like a blueberry muffin.

The Not Berry Hefe, though, I had never had before because it has sold out wicked quick the last couple of times they’ve brewed it.

I can now see why.

The brew is a lovely blend of berry flavors and the light refreshment of a witbier. We’re not talking the sticky, icky sweetness of something like Founders’ Rubaeus or Shocktop Raspberry. The closest equivalent is, not surprisingly, my perennial favorite, Harpoon’s Raspberry UFO.

The biggest difference between the two is the smell and taste. Their use of a traditional Weissbier does give it a bit of that smokey flavor you get with those beers over more commercially available Hefeweizen style beers. However, if you can’t get to Knucklehead before it sells out, again, the Harpoon one is your best bet. Then plan better next year.

It definitely tastes and smells like summer should and will refresh your body and soul during the few hot weeks we have left.

Not Berry Hefe – Knucklehead Craft Brewing – Hefeweizen – ABV Unknown

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Brewelist Advent Calendar 2016 – The Cure for Cabin Fever – Stone Brewing Company’s Cabin Fever Mixed 12 Pack

Buying beer for a crowd can be difficult. Like, very. You’ve got the guy who only drinks Bud Light, the guy who will only drink West Coast IPAs and the person who won’t touch anything they can see through. And then the person who swears they don’t drink beer because they don’t like how it tastes.

If you have one of those last people in your life, get rid of them. You don’t need that negativity in your life (though we kid).

The Cabin Fever Mixed 12 Pack does a decent job of coming thisclose to giving a little something for everyone. Alas if you’re only into Pilsners/Lagers/Weak Beer, you won’t be well served here. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, like some flavorful beers and are willing to spend around $22 for the people you love, you’ve got yourself a winner here.

Stone includes 3 bottles of their Delicious IPA, their Ruination Double IPA, their Coffee Milk Stout and, the star of the show, their Vanilla Bean Porter.

The Delicious IPA is, as advertised, delicious. There is a subtle sweetness and fruitiness that lacks the bitterness that some people don’t care for. It’s the second highest alcohol content in the pack, so take it easy.

The Ruination Double IPA 2.0 takes things up another level (and increases your chances of misery the next morning). This isn’t my favorite but it’s strong. So if you’re just trying to get through that awkward gathering you went to as a plus-one, hide in the corner with one of these. It’ll be over soon.

The nights, and our seasonals, are getting darker. This one has a clear coffee taste and a smooth flavor that makes it perfect to unwind after a long day.

My favorite, overall, is the Cabin Fever exclusive, the Vanilla Bean Porter. It’s not too sweet and you can taste the freshness of the vanilla. It reminds me of a cold latte or a milkshake. Stone – won’t you pretty please make this a recurring beer and maybe make it possible for me to get a 6 pack of it in the future? It is THAT good.

Yes, this pack will run you more than most variety packs (ones that are similar in content and styles around me run about $17), but this is more than worth it to offer something a bit different to your guests.

The Stats:

Stone Delicious IPA – 7.7% – India Pale Ale (Year-Round, available in six-packs, 22oz bottles and on draft)

Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0 – 8.5% – Double IPA (Year-Round, available in six-packs, 22oz bottles and on draft)

Stone Coffee Milk Stout – 5.0% – Milk Stout (Seasonal, also available in six-packs or on draft)

Stone Vanilla Bean Porter – 5.9% – Porter (Exclusive, only available in this pack)

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The Pick Six – June 15, 2016 – Sodastream Does Beer, Ohio lifts the ABV cap and Virginia Tech’s Fusion Lab Gives Rise to History-Based Video Game

Brews: 

Sweet Tang Lager With Grapefruit – Hamburg Brewing Company, 5.0% ABV – This lager has heavy grapefruit flavors. It lacks bitterness and is heavy on the citrus. It’s very crisp, very tasty, and very welcome on a hot summer day. And, at only 5.0% ABV, very drinkable.

 

All about the Hefe lifting – Widmer Brothers from Portland, OR is releasing its Hefe Shandy again this Summer. The seasonal beer features Hefe’s signature hazy appearance with the addition of lemon drop drops and natural lemonade flavor. It’s the perfect beverage to enjoy on your back porch with fireflies all around and a breeze through your hair. The beer only has 4.2% ABV, so it’s great for keeping you cool when things heat up. You should be able to get your hands on this beverage at a local brew stop near you.

 

 

Games: 

Our Pandemic: 1918 – Virginia Tech (Jackie’s alma mater) has created the Fusion Studio which allows participants across multiple disciplines to collaborate. In this case, a historian, a video game developer, an expert on pandemics and an artist joined forces to create a point and click game that explores the 1918 influenza outbreak. Also worth mentioning that Virginia Tech now has a microbrewery on campus and students can learn about brewing beer and whatnot. I’m glad to see my tuition dollars are being well spent long after I can no longer benefit from them (but I guess there’s always grad school?). The game isn’t out yet but I suspect it’ll be an interesting use of the medium.

 

Oxygen Not Included Announced at E3 – One of our favorite Indie Game studios, Klei Entertainment has announced their newest project, a space colony simulation called Oxygen Not Included. While no firm release date has been released, there is a Steam Page and speculation it will hit later this year or early in 2017. How will we fare as leaders in space colonization? Probably not well but we’ll have a lot of fun failing.

 

 

News: 

Beer on demand going too far? – Sodastream has begun selling their “Beer Bar” product, which allows you to, allegedly, brew a craft beverage at will using their system. They swear you can’t taste the difference but I suspect it’s going to take a lot more than a Sodastream and some flavored concentrate to dupe an actual beer. While I’m curious to know what it’s like, I’m going to sit this one out. I mean, I still have difficulty accepting that gas stations can fill growlers…

 

Ohio Lifts ABV Ban – Previously, if you were an Ohio resident and wanted any beer above 12%, you were out of luck. The state has voted to allow the beers to be sold in the state, but must be labeled “High Alcohol Beer.” Sounds like a reasonable compromise to me.

 

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The Pick Six – March 20th, 2016 – Alberta Clipper, Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island and New Belgium Brewing

Brews:

Great Lakes Brewing Company Alberta Clipper – 7.8% ABV, Porter – Great Lakes releases this brew around February every year. It’s worth hunting down when available because it was Jackie’s Beer of the Year for 2015. This beer is super dark but almost oddly refreshing as it has very, very prominent raspberry notes. It’s also more tarte than sweet considering the chocolate notes in it. It’s like a dark chocolate raspberry truffle but with alcohol and without the extraneous sugaryness.

Games:

Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island – In the same vein as a Jack & Dexter or a Ratchet & Clank, the duo of Skylar & Plux are on their way to your action-platforming heart later in 2016. The game features jetpacks, powerful upgrades to your weapons, and beautiful landscapes. Check out the trailer HERE from the Grip Digital, the people behind The Solus Project.

Dragon Land – Take your mind back to the first time you played Spyro on the Playstation. You’re a tiny dragon that doesn’t quite know how to fly, but breathing fire is becoming second nature to you. You jump along in a 3D platformer and you’re having a ton of fun. Dragon Land is pretty much the same thing, but for your mobile device. It’s free-to-play, but costs to keep going if you run out of lives and hearts…unless you want to wait for them to regenerate. Lots of fun, great controls, and looks good too!

Collapse Simulator – Ubisoft – A companion tool to Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s The Division, it takes you through the collapse of civilization due to a virus that is 3x more deadly than smallpox. The simulator gives you choices to make, from the pharmacy where you attempt to get medicine, to the international destination you go to in order to escape the plague. It’s a fun mini game that you can play while working and no one will be the wiser. If you like playing the architect of the apocalypse, you may also want to consider playing Plague, Inc. which is available for both computer and mobile operating systems and was conveniently reviewed on a previous episode of the Brewelist Podcast.

News:

Gray water translates to Great beer? – Half Moon Bay Brewing Company is making small batches of it’s Mavericks Tunnel Vision IPA with recycled waste water. You heard it right. Your sink, shower, dishwasher, and washing machine water is being converted into beer for your drinking pleasure. The San Francisco beer maker is brewing up the perfect solution for California’s water shortage. Dirty water has never tasted so refreshing.

Thanks to FoxNews for the info.

New Belgium Has a Doctor In the House – New Belgium Brewing has added an on-site doctor’s office to their newly renovated facilities in Colorado. CEO Christine Perich wanted her employees to have access to a doctor so they would not be reliant on emergency services or an urgent care facility and hopes the addition to the staff will have a positive impact on employee health. Dr. Patti Palagi has been with the company since March of 2015. If the program works well, New Belgium may provide similar services to their Asheville, NC brewery, set to open in April 2016.

Kudos to Brewbound.com for the info.