The first weekend of June was the last weekend in operation for Stone Brewing's original Company Store location in South Park. From Friday to Sunday the tasting room and growler fill station hosted what they called a Draftastic Finale, featuring a number of special offerings in addition to its usual lineup of perennials. I dropped by about 1 p.m. on Friday, two hours after it opened, to discover that my number one target — a barrel aged Xocoveza Mocha Stout — had sold out within one hour.
Apparently, customers had formed a line down the block by time doors opened to nab all 12 bottles of Xocoveza in stock, in addition to draining the entire contents of a 15.5-gallon keg — all by noon. Which means you've literally got to wake up pretty early in the morning to get a good pour of Xocoveza. Or, at least go beer shopping by 11 a.m.
That left me to peruse a litany of other barrel aged beers on offer for the event, including the Stone Stochasticity Project Quadrotriticale aged in red wine barrels.
Obviously, this beer presents a mouthful before you even finish ordering it. Stochasticity isn't an entirely made up word — it refers to the unpredictable set of results from equations including randomized variables. In theory, Stone's Stochasticity series of beers introduces ingredients that should result in unusual beer creations. Which deviates from the reliably deliberate — and usually quite good — profiles that made the 19-year-old brewery the 14th top selling of all breweries in the U.S. last year.
In the case of Quadrotriticale, a Belgian-style quadruple was brewed using triticale, a wheat and rye hybrid, with the presumption the result would deviate from a customary quadruple in some way. Which it did, when released in limited supply last year. The 9.3% alcohol ale had a fruity, sweet, and malty character, enjoyed by some, but not necessarily a favorite of Stone fans.
However, this batch had a chance to age, specifically in red wine barrels. Which tells you right away that the experimentation with this beer didn't end with the grain, and if anything that unpredictability would be magnified by the influence of residual tannins in the barrel. The beer remained sweet and malty, while the fruits expressed more of a tang. But what struck me most in both aroma and taste was a chocolaty caramel character. Overall, quite a complex beer, and not unpleasant.
But not great. I suspect the aging served the beer well, but the red wine barrels in particular did not. The wine made itself known, especially in the aftertaste, and to my palate did not enhance the quadruple experience. I've filled many growlers at this South Park location the past four years, but did not go home with this, nor any of the other red wine barrel–aged concoctions on tap for the finale weekend. Instead I got a liter of the latest Enjoy By IPA. I'm glad Stone's still willing to take chances, but what I'll mostly miss is having a reliable source of fresh IPA growler fills in South Park.