Everything but the beer is the preferred topic for The Session this month. Host Jack is asking us to look at the odds and ends that go with: beermats, bottle caps and the like. One brewery with a very distinctive look to its packaged beers is Stone of San Diego and it's one of theirs that's the subject of my contribution.
This bottle of Xocoveza was kindly donated by Chris and Merideth on their recent visit to Ireland. There's nothing too unusual about the shape of the bottle: it's your standard American 650ml bomber. But they've made great use of the space it affords to tell the convoluted story of this beer.
Its roots lie in Stone's annual home brewing competition which in 2014 was won by Chris Banker, so that's his name you see emblazoned across the top of the main printed space. His recipe is an 8.1% ABV milk stout brewed with added coffee and spices, intended to recreate the effect of Mexican hot chocolate. The dense wording on the back introduces the drinker to everything they're about to experience, with quotes from the creator as well as Mitch Steele from Stone and the brewer at Cerveceria Insurgente, the Tijuana outfit which also participated in the brew.
The beer itself is heavy on the nutmeg, with a real Christmas-cookie effect, made extra sweet by the lactose sugar. Bitterness from the dark chocolate and strong coffee is fleetingly perceptible behind it. The only other pieces of entertainment it affords are the luxuriously smooth texture and a cheeky pinch of chilli in the aroma. It's not a subtle beer, nor as multifaceted as the list of additional ingredients on the front might imply, but it's fun to drink if you don't take the grimacing gargoyle on the neck too seriously.
And if you have a complaint, you'll find ways to contact the brewery on the underside of the bottle cap:
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