We got a chance here at KegWorks to taste some pretty special holiday brews at the office the other day – “Stone Xocoveza for the Holidays & the New Year” and “Ballantine Burton Ale.” You’ve likely heard of at least one or both of them, but you may not be as lucky as we were to get your hands on some. So I’m here to give you my thoughts on each.
The Ballantine brew was a limited run, one-time batch, so if you got it, you got it. If not, well…you’re sort of S.O.L. The other beer, the Xocoveza was even harder to find. My boss, the owner here at KegWorks, told us that he met a guy in an alley to buy it. We all thought he was joking, but he maintains that this story is true. I guess we’ll never know. Either way, we’re happy he got it, regardless of what he did.
So, without further ado, here are my review on these two special brews…
Stone Xocoveza for the Holidays & the New Year
Dark pour with a tan head that doesn’t last very long, but looks beautiful upon first pouring.
The nose contained hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate.
Carbonated, but not too much, and somewhat thin, which was a bit surprising considering the ABV.
The taste presents the same experience as the nose (cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate), but I also experienced some caramel, coffee, and vanilla notes after tasting.
Incredibly balanced. There’s no overwhelming flavors or aromas. It’s just great. This beer scored a 94 (“Outstanding”) rating on BeerAdvocate, which is a pretty big deal. It’s good. Really flipping good.
Ballantine Burton Ale
Poured deep amber with a nice, cream-colored, lasting head.
Toasted vanilla notes come off immediately, along with an oaky smell.
Carbonated just right, Burton has a medium body, with a bit of sweetness (not too sweet), and a malty richness.
The taste is slightly bitter, leaving a somewhat acidic aftertaste, but overall, I’d say the flavors are very balanced.
It’s a damn good beer. And it’s easy to drink, so be careful with its high ABV. I’m going to let one of the reviewers on BeerAdvocate sum it up because I agree with his notes entirely:
It’s a very impressive effort providing further proof that a big brewer can most definitely “do it up right”, and stands as yet another nice return to form for the historical and once highly respected Ballantine brand (nowadays under the custodial care of Pabst), proving once again that great beer is not exclusively the purview of small brewers. Sometimes, the “bigs” can get it right.”
Make sure you let us know if you’ve had either of these beers. We’d love to hear your thoughts on them!