Every spring Stone Brewing Co. makes a homebrewer's dream come true. The winner of their annual homebrew contest gets the chance to scale up their recipe for the brewery's 120-barrel system and see their beer put on shelves across the country. Jason Fields and Kevin Sheppard took the prize this year with their decadent cherry chocolate stout. To round out the collaborative trio, Stone invited Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's Tröegs Brewing Co. (whose Mad Elf packs in an obscene amount of cherry flavor every holiday season) to join in the brewing process.
The aroma of this beer is rich cocoa and a hint of roast rounded out by sweet cherry. The cherries added to the batch—more than 9,000 pounds of sweet and tart varieties—take on a larger role in the flavor, complemented by vanilla bean and Belgian chocolate. The texture is smooth and full, and the 7.3% ABV beer's roasted malt character adds just a hint of bitterness without overwhelming. It finishes with a distinct cherry cola flavor.
With a couple of scoops of vanilla bean ice cream, this beer would make a terrific float. If the thought of adulterating your beer is too much to bear, serve alongside some warm fudge brownies.
Sample provided for review.