Each year we up the number of beers we brew, and each year it seems like we can’t do any more than we already have. Yet, each year we prove ourselves wrong! In 2014, we shattered our previous record of 74 brews with an epic 120 beers. From the tried-and-true, to the boundary-pushing, it was a big year in our brewhouse. But it didn’t end with a jam-packed brew schedule. Between all these releases we planned five festivals and countless fundraisers to reinvest some love into to the community. So reminisce with us about a year that brought us amazing craft beer, thrilling times and monumental developments.
You know what the big problem is with being well known for playing epic April Fool’s Day jokes on the public at large? The public at large starts to expect them, thus rendering such gags nearly impossible to pull off. Still, building up the status as a supremely self-righteous April Fooler was a fun process for the creative minds at Stone. Announcing we would start brewing a lemon-lime “malternative” beverage, a 27.3% ABV extra-strong ale, and a “lo-carb” beer (“Lite™” was trademarked), we’ve used this faux holiday to explore miles of territory we’d never tread in real life…and even some we would.
On April 1, 2010, we told our fans we’d be teaming with our Scottish brewing comrades at BrewDog to craft BrewDog / Stone Luciferin Golden Imperial Stout, a high-alcohol stout coming in at 11.8% alcohol-by-volume with plenty of roasty flavor. There was just one catch—it wouldn’t incorporate any roasted malts and it wouldn’t be brown in color. So, basically, it would be different from every stout on the planet. Nobody with a working knowledge of calendars bought it and, though it was, essentially a joke, our brewmaster, Mitch Steele, filed that idea away and spent the next four years secretly pondering how he’d create a golden-hued stout. And we’re glad he did, because now that imaginary beer has been brewed into brilliant reality. Enter, Stochasticity Project Master of Disguise.
On July 19, 2014, Stone CEO and Co-founder Greg Koch stood before an esteemed crowd of European friends, compatriots, media and soon-to-be-neighbors in Germany to announce that Stone Brewing Co. is coming to Berlin. The site of the announcement was the historic former gasworks that Koch and company will transform into an equal-parts traditional and modern campus including a state-of-the-art brewery, packaging hall, restaurant and gardens. The following is the speech Greg gave, which lays out Stone’s reasoning, logic, plans, philosophies, passion and intentions for its new space and future in Europe…
Guten abend! Es ist mir eine grosse freude sie heute abend hier zu begrüssen.
As CEO and Co-founder of Stone Brewing Co., it is my sincere pleasure to welcome you. We are here today to celebrate something we are wildly enthusiastic about: fine…uncompromising…delicious…craft beer. And there’s no better way to celebrate it, than to share some with our friends…all of you. Cheers.
Well, Mitch is back from the U.K., where he brewed a monstrously hoppy yet sessionable IPA, but now we’ve sent Greg to mainland Europe for a series of historic events. Seems like we’ve got someone in Europe all the time these days.
Here’s the situation: Greg has gone to Europe to continue the search for a brewery location. We’ve been searching for almost 2 years now, but we’re doing our absolute best to nail down a site. It’s been a challenge. Hopefully we’ll have news to report soon.
While he’s over there, he’ll be breaking some new ground in the European beer world. This Friday, September 16th Brussels’ legendary Moeder Lambic bar will be hosting Greg & 30 insane taps of Stone beer.
As far as we know, that is the most beer ever from a single brewery on tap in one place in Europe. Feel free to correct us if we’re wrong, but we believe this is a first. We know for certain this event will feature the first non-grey market Stone beer on draft ever in mainland Europe, which means you can be assured it will be fresh & served properly. We don’t expect to do this again until we open our European brewery.
The event will actually be a mini-festival of sorts, featuring Stone merchandise, bottled beer, and, of course, Greg’s now famous speech, usually delivered from the top of a bar. No word yet on whether or not he’ll deliver it in Dutch, French, or German. Oh, and this amazing event just got a great write-up in The New York Times.
While he’s traveling, he’ll be doing a variety of other events as well:
- On Sunday, September 18th, Greg will travel to Amsterdam’s “American BeerBar BeerTemple”, an innovative new establishment bent on bringing the American craft beer revolution to Dutch beer lovers. The event will feature 8 palate-wowing Stone beers from bottles along with the aforementioned Mr. Koch and his shenanigans.
- Greg will then travel to sunny Glasgow, Scotland for an event at BrewDog Glasgow on Tuesday, September 20th. The event will feature an array of heavy hitting beers, cockney speechification, and rollicking good times.
- The Greg/awesome beer train then rolls into BrewDog Edinburgh on Wednesday, September 21st for more of the above-mentioned activities.
- And finally, Greg will come back to the good ‘ol U.S. of A for an epic event at New York City’s legendary Rattle ‘n Hum on Thursday, September 22nd, featuring 17 Stone taps. Should be a blast.
This will be quite the trip. Feel free to come along for any or all of it. You’ll like it, we promise.
Representing our part in an international Craft Brewer Exchange Program with our friends at BrewDog, our Brewhouse Supervisor Jeremy Moynier is jumping on a plane for Scotland today. We’ll be getting BrewDog’s Lead Brewer, Stewart Bowman, in return. Both brewers will spend two weeks getting their boots wet and learning the ins and outs of each other’s domain.
“I’m excited to go,” said Jeremy. “I’m looking forward to brewing on a smaller scale again and seeing how those guys do things. The Metric System should make things interesting.” Jeremy isn’t all work and no play. He said he’s also looking forward to pubs, food, scotch, sight-seeing, and traveling with his girlfriend, Andrea, who is meeting up with him after his two week stint at BrewDog to enjoy a bit more of the continent before flying back home on Thursday, November 12. Jeremy did express some hesitation about the weather. “Martin Dickie (BrewDog Brewmaster) said the weather in Scotland is ‘pretty miserable’ right now. You know that when a Scot says the weather is miserable it’s going to be BAD.” Stewart, on the other hand, gets to escape the misery to sunny San Diego and bask in our laughably mild 70-degree Fall weather (just watch, he’ll probably complain about the balmy heat).
The weather isn’t the only thing Stewart will enjoy when he flies in on Saturday night. He’ll also enjoy two weeks of Stone boot camp where he’ll better acquaint himself with brewing on a larger scale and perhaps glean a thing or two from our “we mean business” approach to brewing. He’ll also get a chance to learn from our mistakes and hopefully help BrewDog avoid some of the growing pains associated with rapid expansion. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to come over to Stone and work with some of the masters of the US craft brewing scene,” said Stewart. “I can’t wait get in there and help make some of the beers which have been so inspirational to all of us kids over at BrewDog.”
We don’t plan on letting the guys at BrewDog show us up with their hospitality; it’s our mission to show Stewart a damn good time. Unfortunately, he’ll be returning to Scotland right as San Diego Beer Week is revving up, but that won’t stop us from treating him to the time of his life in one of the most vibrant brewing scenes in the world. If you see him out around town you can help us out. Buy him a beer and show him that San Diego is where it’s at. Between that and the weather—and the beer of course—he may not want to leave.
It’s no secret that we’re fans of our friends James, Martin and the whole team over at Scotland’s BrewDog. We’ve brewed two collaboration beers with them – BrewDog/Cambridge/Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner, and the more recent basha — and we admire them for having the guts to brew big, aggressive beers in the UK and the skill to succeed with it.
The last episode in the ongoing saga of Stone and BrewDog left off with a newly fermenting collaboration brew and some choice hand-selected Scotch whisky barrels stuffed with native Scottish fruit. So what’s next for our two breweries? Why, a Brewer Exchange Program of course.
From October 23rd to November 12th, we’ll be trading our very own Brewhouse Supervisor, Jeremy Moynier, for BrewDog’s Lead Brewer, Stewart Bowman in an open exchange of brewing acumen. Stewart will get a chance to experience brewing on a larger scale and get a feel for how we do things (or as Mitch put it, “learn from our mistakes”), and Jeremy will get a chance to experience brewing in a smaller, fast-growing brewery in an entirely different beer culture. However, since BrewDog will be out of their Lead Brewer for two weeks, Jeremy will definitely have to step up and fill his boots.
This will be a “working trip” rather than a vacation for both brewers, but they’ll probably manage to throw in some diversions along the way. Jeremy did express interest in visiting a Scottish distillery or two and scoping out some choice barrels (hint hint, James and Martin!).
We’re incredibly excited to take Stewart under our wing and to live vicariously through Jeremy and reap the benefits of his stint at BrewDog. Stay tuned as this story takes shape.
Wow, just when you thought we were done with our collaboration shenanigans for a while…we bring you the first ever Synchronized Beer Tapping event (at least we think it’s the first–please don’t check that with the Guinness book or anything)! Here’s our grand plan: at precisely 4pm San Diego time and 7pm Boston time, we will be simultaneously tapping our very first kegs of BrewDog/Cambridge/Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner both here at Stone and at Cambridge Brewing Co. (CBC). What’s so special about this, you ask? Several things. For one (and it’s a really big ONE), kegs of this beer are an endangered species, and you may never see it on tap again–although occasional bottle sightings continue to be reported. Reason number two: Will Meyers, head brewer at CBC, tells us they pretty much never have guest beers on tap at their brewpub, so this is quite a rare occurrence. Reason number three: it’s a damn good beer. Duh.
Joining Will at the New England portion of this historic event will be our own East Coast Regional Brewery Representative and general Cool Dude and Nice Guy, Michael Saklad. If you live in the area and haven’t had the chance to meet him, you might want to seriously consider introducing yourself. When is it NOT a good idea to make friends with someone who peddles beer for a living? And to make Saturday even more memorable, Will tells us that alongside this beautiful black collaboration brew, CBC will also be proudly serving up some really stellar beers from the other two members of this team brewing effort. Here’s what lucky Bostonians have to look forward to: 2007 Stone Imperial Russian Stout, wine barrel-aged 2008 Stone Old Guardian Barleywine, BrewDog Dogma, and whiskey cask-conditioned BrewDog Paradox. As Will says, “Obviously, we’re super excited!” So are we, Will, so are we.
And just in case you somehow have not managed to appreciate the gravity of the situation, just in case you’re thinking, “Meh, I’ll try some next time,” ponder this: only 12 kegs of this black sheep of a beer were ever produced. TWELVE. As Ben Lee, our Production Coordinator, pointed out to me, that is the smallest number of kegs we’ve made of any of our beers in the history of us making beer. So this means that after we’ve finished the two we’re tapping on Saturday, the two that will be pouring at CBC, the one we’re sending to BrewDog, and one that some lucky Bastards down in San Diego already got their hands on, there will only be six kegs left in existence. Six. And no, you can’t have them.
Graeme Wallace, Steve Wagner, Martin Dickie, Greg Koch and Mitch Steele. Just about to mash in!
Greg Koch, Steve Wagner and Mitch Steele, all of Stone Brewing Co. from California, have spent the last couple of days at BrewDog. Stone, and in particular the approach of founders Greg and Steve, was a huge inspiration to Martin and myself when we started BrewDog. For all at BrewDog, having Greg, Steve and Mitch over and brewing with us is pretty much like a crazy music fan being able to go on stage and rock out with their favourite band.
Matteo Milan, Graeme Wallace, Stewart Bowman and Mitch Steele checking on the mash.
We brewed a special Stone-BrewDog collaborative beer, a double black Belgian IPA called bashah. We are going to release some more details about the beer itself later; there are a few pretty exciting twists to it.
Matteo Milan (our Italian Brewer) prepared a stunning BBQ at the end of the brew-day; our brewing system is quite labour intensive so everyone worked up a good appetite.
We had some amazing beers with our food including a 2003 Stone Vertical Epic and a 2003 Speedway Stout, oh and some Tokyo* (much to our amazement, drinking this beer did not lead to the downfall of Western Civilization). Narayanan gave us some excellent signing and Martin conducted a kick-ass whiskey and chocolate tasting. We also shot the first few scenes of a soon to be huge hit movie, The Bare Mitch Project, a porn-horror thriller starring Mitch Steele and Graeme Wallace shot in our very own Canteen of Death.
Stars of the new movie: Graeme Wallace and Mitch Steele.
On Friday Greg, Mitch and I went lobster fishing, caught some mackerel then sweet-talked my Grandmother into cooking the mackerel when we got safely back into port. Other highlights of the visit included a beer and food extravaganza at Musa which is our favourite restaurant in Aberdeen and a tour and whiskey tasting with the guys from Duncan Taylor.
Greg and Mitch doing some North Atlantic lobster fishing.
The label text for bashah was written by Greg and myself while driving to dinner on Friday evening, hopefully that is not going to show too much in the final copy!
We all had a blast brewing and hanging out with the Stone crew, for us their visit is the most exciting thing that has ever happened at BrewDog – it was a real privilege to be able to brew with our heroes!
The first release of the beer should be around mid September. Watch this space.
Greg Koch’s thoughts on the collaboration:
“James, Martin and the entire team at BrewDog really went to a lot of energy to show us a great time…and they sure did! We packed the two-and-a-half days (just 1 1/2 for Steve) solid. Castle visiting, distillery visiting, brewing, dining in a 150+ year old banana hanging warehouse in Aberdeen, selecting used single malt Scotch whiskey casks from a rare whiskey collector/broker (by tasting the whiskeys that used to be in them of course) for diversion of some of the bashah for aging, touring the small, lonely, windy roads of the countryside and seaside in Jame’s hold-on-for-dear-life driving style, BBQing at the brewery, lobstering and mackerel fishing w/James’ father and granddad (w/said mackerel subsequently being artfully cooked up by his epitome-of-hospitality grandmother), and finally as a testament to the sheer exhaustion at the end of the day: successfully falling asleep in the little hotel with the pub attached on Friday night at Midnight in the middle of horrid karaoke renditions of Bon Jovi songs in Scottish accents by the local, VERY inebriated town folk (We momentarily thought about checking out the pub, but then Mitch and I decided that the risk of accidentally offending the wrong soccer team — with something presumably as simple as a “sorry…what did you say?” — and thus leading to an even quicker “lights out” might not have been worth it. Sure we would have risked it for a pint of BrewDog but they didn’t have the good taste to serve their beer, and we definitely weren’t going to go in for an uninspired pint of Euro lager! It’s not like we’d had a shortage of beer after all.).
“I definitely can’t wait to taste the result of ‘bashah’– the world’s first ever (as far as we know) commercially brewed Black Belgian Double IPA!”
-GK ( @StoneGreg )
It’s official: The papa birds have left the nest. For the next few weeks, our fearless leaders Greg Koch, Steve Wagner, and Mitch Steele will be kicking ass all across the European continent brewing amazing beer with fellow craft brewers, schmoozing at various beer events, and fervidly spreading the Arrogance. Sure, the beer will still flow and things will pretty much be the same around here, but we can’t help feel that brief exhilaration we used to get as kids when the teacher stepped out into the hall. I’m dodging spitballs as I type…
So what exactly will our beloved beer patriarchs be up to in the Old World? Well, Greg left on Sunday to attend the TEDGlobal 2009 conference at Hogwarts…err…Oxford, England. From there he’ll be heading to Norway on July 27th, where he’ll be joined by Steve and Mitch to brew the final iteration of Jolly Pumpkin/Nøgne-Ø/Stone Special Holiday Ale with Kjetil Jikiun at Nøgne-Ø (check out Greg’s last visit to Norway). The second, “funkier” iteration was brewed back in April with Ron Jeffries at Jolly Pumpkin, and this version is sure to be equally unique (Steve is actually bringing the San Diegan White Sage with him for the brew).
The three Stone beer diplomats will then be off to Scotland on July 30th to brew a new collaboration beer with our friends James Watt and Martin Dickie at BrewDog. They’re not sure exactly what they’re going to brew there, but one thing’s certain—the beer will be aged in Scotch Whiskey barrels, hand selected by the Stone crew and their brewing brethren at BrewDog. Steve will then depart the day after brewing, and Greg and Mitch will head off to London to appear at a slew of Stone events, as well as attend the Great British Beer Festival. For a full run-down of where they’ll be, check out our UK Stone Events google calendar (scroll to August). Event details may change, so call ahead before attending!
We wish Greg, Steve, and Mitch a safe, and most importantly, FREAKIN’ AWESOME, inter-continental beer adventure. It’ll be business as usual until they get back, but watch out for paper airplanes.
Remember way back on April 1st when we announced our next collaboration beer, BrewDog/Cambridge/Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner? Remember how clever you felt when you dismissed it as an obvious April Fools gag? Stone brewed a Pilsner? Yeah right. Then remember how foolish you felt when we confirmed that it was true—that it was in fact a real beer? Man (knee slap), good times.
Now that the confusion and hurt feelings have subsided, all that’s left is a very real—and very good—Black Pilsner (we know, there’s no such thing, but let’s put that aside for now…or forever). We brought you the play-by-play on brew day with James Watt from BrewDog, Will Meyers from Cambridge Brewing Co., and our Head Brewer Mitch Steele, but there’s more to the story.
First of all, let’s tackle this whole “lagers take longer to brew” myth. SOME do. There are major brand lagers that take less time to brew than craft brewed ales. Yes, a craft brewed lager may typically take longer than a craft brewed ale. Blah, blah blah. Congrats if you’ve stayed with me this long, hell I was starting to bore myself. The bottom line is the end result. Says me. Now let’s move on.
All I can say is that this beer better be better, because this lager took roughly four times longer to ferment and condition than a typical Stone beer (we also bottle-conditioned it for a few weeks, further prolonging its release). After looking back at the brew sheet, Mitch found that primary fermentation took 30 days, and aging (aka ‘lagering’) took 50 days. That’s a total of 80 days that the beer spent training to be the best damn Black Pilsner around.
The eclectic hop bill was also a bit of a challenge to balance. From the beginning, the plan was to use 100% Saphir hops in the dry-hop because it has the most “Pilsner-like” qualities, and the Brewmasters thought it would lend the beer a nice “elegance.” However, they also realized early on that Saphir hops are fairly subtle, and they might not give the beer enough of a hop kick.
Then, on June 12th, the beer gods smiled upon us. In a fortunate turn of events, James just happened to be in town from Scotland promoting his tasty beers, and he was able to stop by the brewery and corroborate with Mitch on what to do next. They tasted two versions of BrewDog/Cambridge/Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner, one dry-hopped with Saphir, and one double dry-hopped with Saphir and Sorachi Ace. Lo and behold, they came to a decision. “We agreed that the Sorachi Ace addition kicked the beer up a notch,” said Mitch, “right where we wanted it to be.” When Will was consulted about the extra dry-hopping, his response was: “The hoppier the better!” We knew we liked that guy for some reason.
Thanks to the unparalleled artistry of these three brewmasters, BrewDog/Cambridge/Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner is shaping up to be one amazing Black Pilsner…err…wait….what? You still have a problem with us calling it that? Fine. It’s probably a Black Double Pilsner anyway. Feel better?
Alright, let’s put this to rest. Just what the hell is a Black Pilsner, anyway? “It’s a Pilsner in the fact that we brewed it with Pilsner malt and fermented it with Pilsner yeast,” said Mitch, “but it’s bigger, darker and hoppier, and it’s unlike any beer I’ve ever had.” There you have it. Settled.
Now for the bad news—we didn’t make a ton of this beer. In fact, the yield was so low that it’s only going to be available in a few lucky locales (see below) in VERY limited quantities, and in 12oz. bottles only (sorry to crush your hopes and dreams). So when can you get your hands on it? BrewDog/Cambridge/Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner will start hitting store shelves this Monday, July 27th. Prepare yourself for the best damn Black Pilsner EVER.
The following places will be receiving small quantities of BrewDog/Cambridge/Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner in 12oz. bottles:
Check out information on our previous collaboration beers
- Matt Steele