"Master Pairings: Beer & Desserts" Goes Bananas

Jacob McKean

Beer and desserts…seems like a natural combination, right? Well, we thought so too, especially since we’ve been looking for an excuse to show off the skills of our new Pastry Chef, Andrew Higgins.

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Pastry Chef Andrew Higgins prepares the Maracaibo Panforte di Siena: Blueberry Honey Cake with Drunken Morello Cherry au Jus

We knew Andrew was crazy good, but when we paired him up with our in-house beer czar, Dr. Bill, for the latest installment in our Master Pairings series, the results were insane. Andrew whipped up 6 amazing and utterly unique desserts (imagine the guilty pleasure of eating exhibits in a modern art museum), which Dr. Bill complimented with some unexpectedly well-suited beers.

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This Brown Butter Financier with Crows Pass Berries & Calvados Creme Anglaise was later freed from its sugary captivity by one of our merciful guests

“Double IPA” may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think “dessert beers”, but Dr. Bill showed why it should. His pairing of Andrew’s Citrus Trio of Blood Orange Sorbet, Lemon Tart, & Minted Citrus Salad with Russian River’s Pliny The Elder was a palate-tickling citrus synergy. The pairing showcased just how versatile and complimentary beer can be, even at the uber-hoppy end of the scale.

The sell-out crowd of 50+ seemed to agree. Most impressive of all, I was the only one who had to be carted out of the Bistro in a wheelbarrow after consuming 6 beers and 6 desserts, but maybe I just have a flimsy constitution. It was delicious, and well worth the trouble.

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Four of the six superb beer pairings selected by Dr. Bill

More pictures of Andrew’s incredible desserts can be found here.

Master Pairings: Around the World, an international odyssey of beer and food pairings, is next in the series on Feb. 25th.

Our First Collaboration Brew of 2010

Jacob McKean

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Shaun, Mitch, and Matt do "the Greg"

On Friday, we had an all-star cast of brewers in the house working on our first collaboration beer of 2010. Shaun O’Sullivan of 21st Amendment and Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker joined our very own Head Brewer Mitch Steele for one of our coolest collaborations yet. Since this was an all-California brewing team, they decided to expand upon that theme by using indigenous California ingredients in the beer, including chia seeds, pink peppercorns, fennel seeds, and 35 lbs. of Mission figs Shaun brought from a friends’ farm.

The result of this momentous collaboration will be a strong black ale of distinctly Californian pedigree. Named El Camino (un)Real Black Ale in honor of the historic Spanish mission trail connecting Northern and Southern California, this beer is going to be pitch-black monster loaded with roasty, spicy flavors.

The wort was completely opaque

The wort was completely opaque

A friendly debate developed around the quantity of hops this luscious beast would require. Although all agreed on a selection of British hop varieties, Shaun lobbied for upping the quantities after sampling our previous collaborations (most of which, for the record, are not exactly restrained in the hops department.)  Matt begged to differ, and jested that, “Over-hopped beers are, like, so 1990s!”

Mitch refereed as Shaun and Matt playfully negotiated the hop additions, chiming-in to explain the particulars of the brewhouse and the results of past experiences. Matt finally emerged victorious by brandishing his trusty Ti-89 scientific calculator to estimate the IBUs, cementing his reputation as an unparalleled process geek (post-production note: it looks like this one will clock-in around 80 IBUs.)

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Matt busting out his trusty Ti-89

Taking the collaboration one step further, Matt brought some oak barrels down with him, which the team used to build a miniature version of Firestone Walker’s famed Union fermentation system, within which 15% of this 90-barrel batch will be fermented.

The miniature Firestone Walker Union in action

The miniature Firestone Walker Union in action

After a long day of brewing—nearly derailed by a serious bunghole issue (if you’re laughing like a 12 year old right now, it’s time to bone-up on your brewing terminology)—the unfermented wort was finally sampled by the weary brewers. Much to their delight, it exhibited an exceptionally smooth roastiness, which all agreed would meld beautifully with the oak from the wooden barrels.

The brewers tasting the wort

The brewers tasting the wort

The brewers ended the day by sharing beers and general merriment at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens back patio bar. Local homebrewers shared their concoctions with the brewing icons late into the night, capping another collaboration brew in appropriate fashion.

Look for this beer to hit the shelves sometime in March 2010.*

*Since there’s only 90-barrels of this sweet nectar being made, we probably won’t be able to distribute it in every single market in which Stone beers are usually found.

More photos can be found here.

Stone Skips Across The Pond: Part 1

Jacob McKean

Here at Stone Brewing Co., we’re not content to merely work with awesome brewers from around the world on our collaboration beers. That’s why we’ve taken it a step further, by visiting a couple of our collaborators in their exotic homelands, brewing at their breweries, drinking their native beverages, and…eating their whales(?!)

To capture these madcap adventures, we’ve created a documentary of Greg, Mitch, and Steve’s trip to Norway and Scotland, where they brewed-up batches of collaboration beers at Nøgne-Ø and BrewDog. Along the way, watch as our intrepid crew relishes a Viking feast, braves the choppy waters of the North Atlantic, and seemingly attempts to bribe their way (with beer) into owning a lighthouse.

And that’s just the first installment, which is now live. Check back every Thursday for the next three weeks as this indomitable crew continues their escapades in Norway before traveling to Scotland for some serious carousing with the punks over at BrewDog.


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