The A’s To Your Q’s: Stone Groundbreaking Collaborations

There’s a reason no U.S. craft brewers have constructed breweries in Europe. It’s very difficult and, of course, expensive. Back in 2009, when initially looking into the prospect of building the physical embodiment of our ethos-driven brewing operation across the Atlantic, we knew it wouldn’t be easy, but in pursuing that project, it became clear that it would be even harder than we originally estimated. But bringing the innovation and flavor of American craft beer to Europe is something that’s very important, not just for us, but for the fans of craft beer, present and future, who will benefit from access to high-quality New World brews. So, we spent years hammering out a plan that would allow us to get it done. Not only that, we pushed ourselves and our resources even further, and came up with a way to also open up a facility in the Eastern United States. The best part of it all—we’re going to be constructing both simultaneously, so that our fans in the Eastern U.S. or Europe will be able to take in the Stone experience in the not-so-distant-future. In the end, while our bold, interesting and delicious beers set us apart from the world’s thousands of other breweries, so, too, does the full-on Stone Experience that comes from being able to visit and see firsthand who we are, what we do and what we stand for at our Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens eclectic farm-to-table restaurants and attached Stone Company Stores.

stoneberlin_01

But, because we’re moving forward with a very aggressive construction plan for our two new breweries, we are at our financial limit and must put the Bistro & Gardens experiential components on hold…unless we get a little help. And for that help, we’re reaching out to our fans across the globe. Some will call it crowdfunding, but it really isn’t. This is actually more along the lines of crowd participation, mainly because these projects will get done either way—we’re just allowing fans to help speed up the process—and, more importantly, we’re no scoundrels. In addition to a warm feeling of having done something rewarding, we’re giving you something in return for what is, essentially, an advance on your hard-earned funds…beer! But not just any beer. We’re talking collaborations between Stone and some of the most prestigious brewing operations on the planet. We’re talking BrewDog, Dogfish Head Craft Brewing, Victory Brewing Company, Le Baladin and many more. These one-time-only specialty beers will be brewed at our new facilities as soon as they are operational, funneled into collectible (and rather spiffy) one-and-a-half-liter commemorative bottles, and set aside for the thirsty beer enthusiasts helping us to do what we do, as well and as fast as we can.

unlocked2

Surely, there will be those who question our crowd participation approach. That’s only natural when a company does something in a manner that’s never been done before. And without questioning, this world would be nothing but a bunch of mindless drones shackled in allegiance to the status quo. That would be unfortunate. Since the birth of Stone Brewing Co., we have railed against such behavior, demanding something far better than the norm. So, we respect that some may question what we’re up to, and expected this when we decided to embark on this ambitious endeavor. No brewing company of our size has employed this method before. Then again, no other brewing company has attempted to fund and execute such a large-scale, dual, cross-continental project. Given that, it shouldn’t be surprising that something without precedent involves elements that also lack precedent.

We respect your right to pose questions and will strive to answer them all (see below). Having alternative opinions about it is O.K., too. After all, there are numerous other ways we could raise the capital to move forward at the pace we desire. In fact, some have been utilized by other brewing companies—businesses much different than ours in many, many ways. Take, for instance, these scenarios:

  • Stone could team with a soulless, multinational conglomerate with deep pockets looking to play sugar daddy to an American brewery with a glitzy, marketable name it can exploit in exchange for transporting it and setting it up in a nice, little, tourist attraction-like place in Europe that will surely serve said mega-company’s purposes far more than said starry-eyed American newcomer.
  • Stone could cut back on efforts to make places like Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens and Stone Company Stores the must-visit places they’ve become. They’d be less inviting, less innovative, offer fewer of the incredible beers, large scale beer festivals, creative beer-centric events and local, sustainable, thoughtfully procured (and way more expensive) ingredients our fans love, but those places would be far more profitable.
  • Stone could lay off a bunch of employees and strain our workforce, essentially running a mill of miserable grunts reduced to near-robotic status.
  • Or, Stone could go the most traditional route—rounding up a bunch of rich folks, the majority of which wouldn’t understand one thing of substance about craft beer, but would have heard the stories of its rise and, therefore, instinctively know that this is something they simply have to be a part of. Throw in the fact that Stone is well known and has a great deal of marketing appeal, and it would be very easy for us to raise the investor funds needed to get these facilities built at the pace we desire. All our backers would want in return, naturally, is a piece of the pie. Of course, that would have to involve more than just an exchange of funds. This would be a large investment. They would want the oversight and input that they, as (real or perceived) masters of the business world, are entitled when handing over a big lump of cold, hard (emphasis on the “cold” part) cash. No problem, right? After all, as we stated before, they don’t know anything about craft beer, so they’re the perfect people to help guide our brewing program. They wouldn’t look to cut production costs, raise prices, alter our venues and events to be more profitable at the sacrifice of quality and reward to those who visit both…would they? The answer falls between “probably” and “definitely.”

We don’t find any of the above acceptable. There is no point to Stone Brewing Co. existing if our deep-seated philosophies and commitment to excellent beer for all aren’t completely intact. Our fans deserve it. And that’s why we are reaching out to the people who matter most to us—the fans who love our beer and want more of it along with the Stone Experience—to meet our vision of more Stone faster and with zero compromise.

Despite our best efforts to share the impetus and reasoning behind our crowd participation efforts, we realize no blog post can answer all of the questions people are bound to have…but we’re going to try anyway. The following are some helpful answers to what are bound to be some frequently asked questions about this enterprise.

howitworks

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why are you using IndieGoGo instead of Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is so passé! But seriously, folks—it all comes down to one site restricting alcohol sales and the other allowing us to give craft beer fans the kind of perks they, by definition, actually want—craft beer!

When will the beer be brewed?

Good question. We anticipate brewing the beers from late 2015 through late 2017. We’re promising amazing, mind-blowing beers—thus, they will take time. Not to mention the fact we have to first build our awesome Berlin brewery. Construction delays always have the potential of rearing their ugly heads, so it’s best not to talk in specifics at this juncture, but we’ll keep you abreast of the situation as we go and make sure everything’s crystal clear when the time comes for you to get your beer.

How much beer will there be and where will it be brewed?

During the course of the crowd participation campaign, we’ll announce new collaborations every three days or so. The beers will all be brewed in BERLIN. How many really depends on you guys. The more you front for, the more we’ll make.

How old must I be to purchase a collaboration beer?

In the U.S., you must be 21 years of age at the time of purchase. This is the law, so it’s best not to employ creative—nay, misguidedly hopeful—mathematics. Of course, for those outside the U.S., legal drinking ages are different, so make sure you meet individual requirements for your country of residence.

Can I buy beer now if I’m not 21 but will be 21 by 2015?

Again, you must be 21 years of age AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE. (Ditto the individual age requirements outside the U.S.)

Can I buy beer now if I’m not 21 but am giving it as a gift to someone who is 21?

Nope.

Just how rare are these beers?

Pretty damn rare! The bottles in this campaign will ONLY be produced in association with this crowd participation campaign—from the time of announcement until the time they sell out or the campaign ends, whichever comes first.

Will any of these beers be available for retail purchase later on?

Anyone, including distributing companies and retail operations, can purchase the beer during this campaign at the same price as the general public. There is no way for us to police who purchases the beer via this platform. However, if it should end up being resold at a retail establishment, it’s very likely the retailer will sell it at a substantially higher price. We may take some of the beer and package it for sale at a later date, as well,  however, if we do, we’ll package them in 750-milliliter non-commemorative bottles that we will sell for $30. Yes, that’s the same price as we’re offering the 1.5-liter bottles, so ordering now gets you double the beer at the same price. We recommend pre-ordering.

How many collaboration beers may I purchase?

First off, we LOVE your attitude, and are glad to say you can purchase AS MANY BOTTLES OF AS MANY OF THE BEERS AS YOU WOULD LIKE! How refreshing for ultra-rare brews, the majority of which are offered with a maximum per-person limit if you can even get your hands on them at all, right?

Can I purchase more than one beer at a time?

Yes and no. Yes, you may purchase more than one beer at a time, but only if you are selecting the case option where you get 12 bottles of the same beer. All other purchases must be made individually, one bottle at a time, per the limitations of Indiegogo.

Are there any discounts for bulk purchases?

We want to help appease the appetite of those who know they want a lot of a certain beer, so Cross-Planetary Brewing Revolutionaries will have the option of purchasing a case of 12 of any of the collaboration beers at the discounted rate of $300 (a $60 savings). Once this option has been selected, a Stone representative will contact you with an e-mail asking which beer you would like to select. Please note that all such selections are final.

What if I want to switch the collaboration beer I purchased to another collaboration beer in the series?

We understand being selective. We were VERY specific in our choices, too. Just wait until you see all the incredible folks we’ll be brewing with! We don’t well up with glee in making this decree, but NO CHANGES will be allowed. Once a decision is made, the die is cast.

Is there an option for me to cut to the chase and order all of the collaboration beers at once?

Due to certain restrictions beyond our control, beers must be purchased individually, however, it will be easy to stay on top of each beer release simply by checking in on our Indiegogo campaign page or following Stone on social media via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google+.

What if I have a change of heart and no longer want the collaboration beer I purchased?

Sorry, but all sales are final. Choose wisely and be at peace with your decision before clicking PURCHASE.

Why don’t you know what style of beers most of the collaborators will be brewing?

In the case of some of our collaboration beers, the ideas flowed instantaneously, so we’re able to disclose what those brews will be. However, in preparation for this campaign, rather than place deadlines on creativity, we vowed to give the brewers time to fully explore the depths of their imaginations so our fans get something truly special in the end.

Can you ship me my beer?

We’d love to ship beer to the U.S., but we’d be breaking so many laws that countless badges would be on us faster than you can say “Carmen San Diego.” You will be asked to choose your pick-up point from Stone locations on the West Coast, east of the Mississippi, and in Europe when the beer is almost ready.

If you are not shipping beer in the U.S., what are you sending me?

We’ll send you a delightfully rare, never-before-seen certificate that will be redeemable, at a time yet to be determined, for the precious bottle of beer you buy today. Don’t worry, when it gets closer to beer o’clock, we’ll send you an email with further instructions. You will also receive a high-resolution certificate via email recognizing you as an official Cross-Planetary Brewing Revolutionary.

Where will the pick-up spots be located?

That list currently includes Stone Company Store – Escondido, Stone Company Store – Pasadena, Stone Company Store – Berlin and the yet-to-be-determined site of our Eastern U.S. facility, but additional locations may be added between now and pick-up time.

bottlepickuplocations3

Where will the Eastern U.S. facility be located?

Well we just told you, we don’t know quite yet, but we are honing in on about a half-dozen locations that seem very well suited for our operations, and hope to announce the final spot by the end of September.

OK then, where will the Berlin facility be located?

At the historic site of a former gasworks operation dating back to 1901 in Berlin’s Mariendorf area.

What if I don’t live in an area where Stone has a pick-up location? How can I get my beer?

Your beer will be kept in the most optimal of conditions for up to one year after the announcement of its release. That will give you time to plan a trip to one of our designated pick-up locations, however, if you can’t get to us, there are options. It’s permissible to dispatch a mule 21 years of age or over to pick up your beer. Please note there is a chance that, should you select our Eastern U.S. location as a pick-up venue, it may not be fully constructed by the time your beer is ready for pick-up. At that point, you’ll need to wait until the Eastern U.S. location is officially open, however, you will still have until one year from the date of the beer’s release to pick it up.

What do I need in order to claim my beer?

The all-important redemption certificate and photo identification are all that is required if you are picking up the beer yourself. If you send a representative, the certificate and a communication authorizing a particular individual—who must then provide their photo ID—is required to claim the beer on your behalf. The last thing we want is for your spoils to get into the wrong hands!

What if I lose my voucher?

Don’t! ‘Tis a precious item. (But if you do, just shoot an email to revolution@stonebrewing.com)

How long will I have to claim my beer?

One year’s time from initial notification that your purchased beers are at your selected pick-up spot and waiting for you to claim them.

Why should craft beer fans help fund breweries in the Eastern U.S. or Europe?

Why not? Especially when you’ll get rare craft beers produced in collaboration with some of the most highly regarded brewers in the world in exchange for what is, essentially, an advance on funds you would have spent on beer anyway? This is in no way a donation. You help us get our Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens locations open and you get beer. You don’t help us, and you don’t get beer…and have to wait for said Bistros. It’s your choice and we’re above arm-twisting…but not above giving beer fans more beer!

Why does Stone need money in the first place?

Thanks to fans of our beer, we have attained a great level of success over the past 18 years. As those who’ve been paying attention have seen, we’ve grown at a rapid rate—adding on to our brewery, upping beer production and distribution, growing our workforce, opening Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Stone Company Stores, Stone Brewing Tap Room, Stone Farms and more. We’re always reinvesting our profits back into Stone and doing something new, which leaves us on a bit of a shoestring budget at times. We have enough money to open breweries east of the Mississippi and in Berlin, but not enough to immediately install our dining, garden and retail elements. Rather than wait and provide a less-than-optimal experience, we’re willing to enlist our incredible industry collaborators and offer “beer futures” so that, hopefully from Day One, all visitors to our new facilities get the full-on Stone Experience.

How much is $1 million really going to expedite the construction of the Bistros and Stores?

Significantly, but admittedly not as much as, say, $5 million. But we’re not against raising that much…or more. No matter what, the funds raised through this campaign will be funneled directly to these projects and moving them up on the construction schedule.

What percentage of the $50 per bottle price tag goes to producing, packaging and delivery of the beer?

100% of proceeds raised through sales of the collaboration beers will go directly to expediting of construction on the aforementioned facilities to complete the Stone Experience.

You still haven’t answered all of my questions. Where can I go for more information?

Your best bet is to go straight to the source—check out our Indiegogo campaign page.

 

Home Run: Stone Beer at the Ballpark

The lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” evoke memories of sunny days, the scent of fresh-cut grass and the sharp crack of pine making forceful contact with a small, red-stitched orb. There’s nothing quite like baseball season. America’s Pastime stirs the souls and passions of people from all walks of life—young to old, blue collar to white collar, West Coast to East Coast. It also appeals to both craft beer fans and people who don’t give a rip what they swig while they take in the boys of summer, so long as it’s ice cold, triple-hopped, cold-filtered or [insert lame, meaningless macro-beer company's Madison Avenue-developed buzz term here]. For so long, those enthusiastic about quality beer and baseball had to forgo the former when enjoying the latter, which makes us all the happier that, this year, we were able to debut a number of ballpark craft beer options for those seeking ales of substance in our hometown. This is a major accomplishment that comes after many years of hard work and negotiation to gain access to the prestigious Petco Park. Check out our new locations then visit them the next time you take in a San Diego Padres game.

taproom_01

The most prominent of our ballpark spots is the Stone Brewing TapRoom. Located adjacent to the stadium on the edge of the lush, green Park at the Park, it’s a 4,800 square foot space we spent the first quarter of 2014 converting from a wine bar into a craft beer refuge matching the décor of our industrial-modern Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens restaurants. In many ways, it’s a scaled-down version of the Stone experience (we even have shelves of merchandise including baseball-themed items custom-made for this space), but you can expect the same vibrant flavor Stone beers are known for. A line of 12 taps keep our brews, including special releases, collaboration beers, and even unique casks and small batch creations, flowing.

taproom_02

Stone Brewing TapRoom’s similarity to our Bistros carries over to the fact they serve up tasty edibles made from farm-fresh ingredients, some of which are harvested from our own Stone Farms. A pizza oven churns out an array of warm flatbreads. And we’re not talking boring pepperoni or Margherita. Our menu includes a spicy Thai curry Jidori chicken flatbread, barbecue duck with pineapple salsa and Stone Levitation Amber Ale BBQ Sauce, Arrogant Bastard Ale smoked pork and cheddar bratwursts with beer cheese, and a potato pie with Stone Farms kale and white sauce, to name a few. Our locally famous hemp seed pretzels and hummus are also available along with salads and a duo of desserts—the Arrogant Bastard Ale brownie Sundae and Stone Smoked Porter beer floats. The full menu is online. Best of all, Stone Brewing TapRoom is open all year long, so a devout love of baseball isn’t a requirement. (Though, during the season, you can see the games broadcast via the exterior Jumbotron on the ballpark’s perimeter—a definite bonus for sports fans!)

taproom_03

So, we have your pre- and post-game imbibing needs covered (not to mention your entire off-season), but what about during the game? We’re glad you asked. Perched on the fifth floor of Petco Park between Sections 307 and 309 lies an aerial oasis just a footbridge removed from the macro-beer and processed foodstuff (not to mention ALL THAT KETCHUP!) being passed off as sustenance. We finally worked our way into the ballpark, so our fans can now enjoy Stone beers in a palm tree-adorned outdoor beer garden along with a sweeping view of downtown’s East Village and the San Diego Bayfront. It’s a beautiful space in keeping with our motif that even includes a stencil of our logo that fans can take a photo with. We encourage that as well as sharing your photo on social media using the hashtag #ImWithGargoyle.

petco_01

In addition to these new Stone-devoted spots, you can also get our beer from carts and craft beer-centric stands located on Petco Park’s concourse leading to field level seating. It’s awesome to see a major San Diego sports venue embracing one of the things that has made our county the focus (and envy) of the rest of the nation. No matter the outcome of the game, nine innings spent watching the Friars now feels like #winning for sure.

petco_02

#IMWITHGARGOYLE

Senses Working Overtime: Beer Appreciation 101

You don’t have to be a certified beer judge or Cicerone to know when the taste of a beer strikes your fancy. But pinpointing exactly what you’re experiencing—that mysterious connection between your brain and taste buds—can be tricky. Fortunately, there is a quite enjoyable remedy for this: Taste more beer! But also smell more beer and visually examine more beer. It takes all of one’s senses to thoroughly evaluate ales and lagers. (OK, you don’t need to hear beer, but one can’t deny the anticipatory delight that stems from the sound of a bottle being opened or the sadness brought on by the last gasps of an emptied keg.) Practice makes perfect when it comes to exercising and refining your palate as well as the way you interpret beer’s appearance, scents and flavors. Many reading this have had a lot of practice drinking beer, but read on for a crash course on how to really appreciate it.

sensory_lab

We spend a great deal of time on sensory analysis here at Stone, and encourage fans of good beer to take time out to really get to know the ales and lagers they consume. Take in a beer’s aroma, observe its color and clarity, feel the way it sits on or perhaps coats your tongue and, of course, partake in the all-important taste test. Doing so will help you to appreciate the brew’s charm as well as identify any possible deficiencies. The latter can stem from the brewing process, but there are numerous factors going beyond how a beer is made that can affect the way you experience it. Well maintained equipment, proper storage conditions and serving temperature are all important. In terms of temperature, many complexities will be hidden from one’s palate if the beer is served in frigid condition. Ever had a chilled imperial stout and found it to be pretty one-dimensional at first, only to discover rich overtones and a wealth of varying flavors as you near the last sip. It’s not that the stout’s flavorful compounds have settled in the bottom of the glass—increased temperature allows our taste buds to pick up on a beer’s subtler characteristics.

Let’s start with the sense of sight. What color is the beer when you hold it up to a light? Now, don’t just go with “light” or “dark”—beer covers a wide spectrum of hues ranging from pale gold to reds and near-blackish brown, and even a slight variation from garnet to chestnut can signify a deeper malt flavor. In addition to color, check to see if the beer is hazy or clear. Is the foamy head sparse or thick and fluffy, and what color is it—clear white, tan or cappuccino-toned perhaps? Sometimes a telltale difference in head color can point to a higher alcohol-by-volume (ABV), like the difference between the beige foam atop a glass of Stone Smoked Porter and the mocha-colored head on a snifter of Stone Imperial Russian Stout.

haley-2

Like appearance, the importance of aroma is often overlooked in favor of convenience when one drinks right from the bottle or can. I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty of this. Sometimes the thought of dirtying one more glass causes me to go against my better beer judgment. But the bottom line is if you are trying a beer for the first time, you will never truly taste it until you drink it from a glass. And glassware selection matters! The straight, up-and-down shape of a standard pint glasses allows aromas to escape, while a tulip-shaped glass or snifter captures them for maximum enjoyment. Personally, I like stemless wine glasses, which are great for those who enjoy both beer and wine on a regular basis. Swirling beer in your glass will also help regenerate foam and more fully release aromas. Just don’t go too swirl-crazy or you’ll shake all the carbonation out of the beer (or, even worse, some of the beer out of your glass)! And when you inhale, there’s no need to fill your lungs like you’re coming up out of the ocean for air. Just a quick sniff or two at first is good. While you’re drinking, aromas will also naturally make their way into your nose and mouth, so relax and let it happen.

Aroma is most often talked about with regards to hops, which are responsible for a lot of fruity, botanical elements mirroring the scents of citrus, tropical fruit, grass, pine and flowers. But there’s more to a beer’s olfactory hints than hops. A whiff of alcohol hiding behind that bouquet can point to a high ABV. Fruity or spicy esters produced by yeast, particularly in Belgian beer styles, produce compounds that bring out scents akin to banana and cloves among others. The up-front aroma can color your perception of a beer’s flavor before you even taste it, and even afterwards, as odor compounds can make their way to your olfactory glands through the nasal passages in the back of your throat. That’s part of why craft beer belches can taste like the ale you just enjoyed.

glass_swirl

Identifying aromas can be tricky sometimes, so follow your gut—or rather, your nose. Smelling chocolate in Arrogant Bastard Ale, even though nobody else picks that up or are focused mainly on the beer’s hop character? That doesn’t mean your nose is wrong. There are dozens of odor compounds that can emanate from a beer, and while some will certainly be more prominent than others, picking out the more subtle ones is possible. (Heck, maybe you just have a more advanced sense of smell than the rest of your beer buddies…pretty cool!)

haley

Now that you’ve stared at your beer and sniffed it within an inch of its life, you should already know a little bit about it before even tasting it (even more if you have a beer menu in front of you telling you the style and ABV). Before going in, remember that the first sip of a beer can comingle with flavors already on your palate from food, other beers, coffee, toothpaste or any of the host of other things that may have preceded this particular brew. The first thing you’ll want to do is sacrifice a small amount of your beverage for the purpose of cleansing your palate. Let the beer coat your tongue. Feel free to pick out any initial flavors at this point, but reserve final judgment for later sips. Pay attention to the texture and body of the beer as well. How lively or absent is the carbonation? Extreme? Inadequate? Just right? Does the beer feel thick and viscous? Sticky? Thin? And what about the finish or aftertaste? There’s a lot to consider, so keep more than just the most overt characteristic—flavor—in mind. Improper levels of carbonation or a strange mouthfeel can make or break an otherwise tasty beer. Too much bubbliness can distract from a beer’s flavors, and not enough bubbles, while fine for cask beers and stronger beers, might not be the best for IPAs.

If all this sounds like a lot of work just to drink a beer, that’s alright. You don’t need to have an internal debate with your senses every time, and it’s perfectly fine if sometimes you just feel like having a non-academic, purely-for-pleasure drink. But if you are truly tasting beer, or trying something for the first time, you owe it to the people who lovingly crafted that beverage—and more importantly, yourself—not to just funnel it down your gullet.

sip

And while we’re consciously thinking about the feelings of brewers everywhere, remember that when you like or dislike something, it’s your opinion. It’s fine if a particular beer isn’t for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Sometimes keeping an open mind and tasting things outside your comfort zone can make you grow to appreciate them more and more. (And yes, I’m talking to you, guy or gal who drinks nothing but IPAs then blasts barley wines, hefeweizens and witbiers simply because they are nothing like their hop-heavy standby!) But in all seriousness, there are some flavors and scents that never belong in beer. If you detect a buttery taste similar to the foodstuff used to flavor microwave popcorn or a tinny characteristic like what’s found in some canned vegetables, or smell rotten eggs, plastic, wet cardboard or vinegar, that’s bad. Pale ale with essence of Band-Aid strips and Del Monte corn kernels probably wasn’t what the brewer was going for, so let the brewery or bartender know. These are signs of problems that can arise in fermentation, packaging, storage or service.

For those near our Southern California home who would like to receive a crash course in analyzing beer conducted in tandem with a tasting of some of our small batch specialties, we will be conducting one of our educational Beer U courses all about sensory evaluation at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Escondido on July 14. The class will be led by our Research and Small Batch Manager Steve Gonzalez, a long-time veteran of the beer, wine and spirits industry who will break out numerous rarities including Stone Passion Project, a Belgian-style abbey ale aged in wine barrels before being racked onto fresh passion fruit from our very own Stone Farms. Not familiar with the farm? You’re in luck. I just so happen to know of a brilliant blog post stocked with details on that lovely place!

The Thrilling Adventures of Team Spröcket: Part II

Last week, we allowed one half of the winning team from our in-house brewing competition, QA Supervisor Rick Blankemeier (you may recognize him from his work on the Stone Stochasticity Project), to tell the first half of he and Team Spröcket partner Robbie Chandler‘s U.S. tour, during which they introduced their first place black rye Kölsch, Spröcketbier, to the masses. Follow along as Rick closes out his cross-country tale in style (and if you haven’t already tried he and Robbie’s amazing beer, find it and fix that immediately).

Stop #4: Coloradical

Denver is a fun city. Now, I’m extremely biased since I grew up in Aurora, just southeast of the Mile High City, and went to college at CU-Boulder (Go Buffs!). Despite all that, Denver really is a rad city with lots of activities to keep you entertained and full of delicious craft beer. My wife (and fellow member of Team Stone), Jessica, flew in early to visit friends so we could have a long weekend together in our old stomping grounds. She picked us up from the airport and drove us to our first unofficial event at Hops and Pie. Before that, we stopped by a liquor store to pick up bottles of Spröcketbier to hand out to all of our local friends. It was admittedly weird to buy a bottle of the beer that had my name on it and we definitely gave the checkout person something to talk about for a while. She checked our ID’s and noticed our names matched those on the bottle, then kind of freaked out a bit. Yes, this made us freak out (or maybe the more apt term is “geek out”) a bit, internally.

partii_00

Hops and Pie is a glorious place with a nice, simple concept: craft pizza and craft beer. Located in Highlands just west of downtown Denver, it’s a place I always go whenever I’m in the area. They have an amazing beer selection and some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. The pizza of the day when we were there was a chicken-and-waffles pie with gravy. Can you even? Even with that culinary masterpiece up for grabs, the best part of being there was the outpouring of support from all of my friends and family in Colorado. I moved out to San Diego four years ago to work my dream job at a brewery. They all were bummed I was leaving, but kept in touch and have supported me through my beer-soaked journey. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me seeing everyone there congratulating us in person and trying our beer, which just so happens to pair well with chicken-and-waffles pizza…who knew?

Me, Robbie and our posse then journeyed over to the main Spröcketbier event at Denver craft beer nexus, Falling Rock Tap House. The place is packed during the week of the Great American Beer Festival, with craft beer celebrities and brewers drawing the general public in droves. Admittedly, I always try to avoid the place like the plague if I’m in town for GABF because it’s just too crazy packed, but it was perfect the day of our event. You can’t beat the draft selection or the ambiance when it’s busy but not crowded. We were a few minutes late and were told as much in a light-hearted way by Falling Rock owner Chris Black. I told him that brewers are never early or late, we arrive precisely when we mean to. Robbie and I had a very nice interview with a pair of bloggers, Chris and Chelsea, from PorchDrinking.com. We discussed the gamut of items about our beer, and how we picked the name and such. Then, Robbie and I did our usual rounds and talked it up with the locals. Our event ended promptly at 10 p.m. At that point, I had to show Robbie my favorite bar in Denver–The 1up.

When I was growing up, I loved to hang out at arcades, get a handful of quarters from my parents and just have at it for a couple of hours. I played the four-player Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and six-player X-Men games religiously, trying my hardest to beat them. Now, imagine taking the best video games of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and transplanting them into a bar. Welcome to The 1up. It’s not like a Dave and Busters; it’s an actual dive bar that has Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, X-Men, TMNT, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker and a bunch of pinball machines. The 1up also has a decent craft beer selection and full bar. It’s also the only bar I’ve been to where you can buy forties (which, as you’d expect, we steered clear of). Robbie and I immediately set out to right some of the wrongs of our childhood and beat TMNT (Donatello), X-Men (I was Wolverine) and the Simpsons (gotta love Marge swinging that vacuum cleaner). It was a beautiful thing. We left The 1up knowing that the ghosts of our childhood were finally were at peace. Magneto, Shredder and Mr. Burns were cast down and the Spröcketbier duo was triumphant. I hated to leave Denver, but we had one last stop on our tour: Seattle.

partii_01

Last Stop: The Emerald City

I had mixed feelings going into Seattle. On one hand, I was excited to see the trees and how beautiful the city on the Sound was. The flipside is that I’m a Broncos fan and the Super Bowl thrashing my Broncos received was still an open wound. When we flew in, everywhere I looked were wondrous vistas of a sea of green over seas of blue–and Seahawk jerseys. The Space Needle overlooking the Sound, paired with 12th Man banners. As painful as it might have been for yours truly, there was no way we were missing out on Seattle—it’s Robbie’s old stomping grounds. Well, technically the boonies outside of Tacoma are where he hails from. Robbie was a terror on the high school football field. He also lived off of the land like a real-life Grizzly Adams. He even had an epic beard back when he was 16. Even though he was clearly perfectly suited for life in the evergreen expanses of Washington, he eventually left the Tacoma area after school to join the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served in Iraq. After the Marines, he stayed in San Diego and decided to be our resident warehouse guru. I was excited to get some insight from him about the area.

It was raining when we flew into the Emerald City (shocker). We had access to a rental car and zoomed off (read: spent a lot of time stuck in traffic) to check into our hotel and head to our first event at Elliot Bay Pizza. We were greeted warmly and given a chance to try some Spröcketbier out of a boot (DAS BOOT!). Apparently, it’s tradition at Elliot Bay to fill a two-liter boot glass full of some craft beer and pass it around the bar. It was really fun despite the increased chance of contracting hepatitis. Stone Sales rep Jay Farias also passed around a bunch of tasters of Crime. For those of you not in the loop, Crime is our Lukcy Basartd Ale aged in bourbon barrels with super-hot peppers added to the mix. It’s essentially a hot sauce that we call beer. This batch had been aging for a number of months and was a lot less spicy than it used to be. It’s nice to get more of the pepper flavor and less of the burning. After eating some great pizza, we headed back to the hotel to prepare for another fun-filled day in the morning.

The first stop was at Malt and Vine, a cool little bottle shop with an amazing selection and a couple of draft handles. We took over most of the handles with Stone brews, including Spröcketbier, and were on-hand to sign bottles and take lunch-hour patrons through a guided tasting. It was fun to talk to a couple of hardcore beer geeks about the recipe and help them out with some recipe ideas of their own. Most of the crowd there was made up of workers on their lunch breaks who grabbed a bite to eat somewhere else, then brought it to Malt and Vine to enjoy with a taster or two of beer. I wholeheartedly support that sort of lunch break.

After grabbing some lunch, we went to our next event at the Total Wine in Lynnewood. That had to be the second largest liquor store I’ve ever been in (with the biggest being the appropriately named Tipsy’s in Lakewood, Colorado). It was the first liquor store I’ve seen with its own growler fill stations. We made camp in front of the draft system they use for growler fills and staked our claim to lure unsuspecting customers to their introduction to Spröcketbier. We completely owned that area and immediately had the crowd enthralled. Tasters of Spröcketbier certainly didn’t hurt, nor did the fact Robbie and I were streaming the NFL draft and calling out the draft picks to the rapidly assembling crowd. “This Sprocketbier goes excellent with Paul Richardson from Colorado going to the Seahawks in the second round.”

We were done with our official events for that day, so Jay took us around to his favorite haunts. My favorite stop was at Brouwer’s Café in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. They had an amazing selection of craft beer, but they also an incredible Scotch selection that we eagerly sampled. The bar manager took us on a tour of their cold box and it was pretty insane. Most good craft beer bars maintain their draft systems like a Swiss watch. They have a regular cleaning schedule where they use caustic cleaners to dissolve any protein or bacterial buildup in the lines and do acid cleans every couple of months to eliminate any mineral buildup. That whole system is too pedestrian for Brouwer’s Café, where they actually replace the draft lines themselves on a daily basis. That’s the equivalent of throwing out an empty beer glass instead of just washing it. That might be an unfair comparison, but it’s still amazing that they just cut the lines and hook up new ones for the following day. I’ve been to way too many bars that never clean their draft lines and all of their beer tastes sour, oxidized or buttery. It was refreshing to see a bar that takes the commitment to quality to the next level.

The next day, we played the role of tourists, visiting Pike Place Market for breakfast and beer. We journeyed around the maze of a market and found The Pike Brewing Company nestled in its depths. One of their brewers graciously gave us a tour of the place. They do production on three stories. The top level contained their grist case and mash/lauter tun, which is gravity fed down to their boil kettle on the pub level. All of the fermentation and bottling is done on the bottom level. It’s quite the engineering feat to conduct full production brewing on three levels while maintaining consistency and quality. It was really fun to see in action.

After a nap and hydration, it was time for our last scheduled event for the Spröcketbier tour at hunting-themed hotspot, The Lodge Sports Grille near Century Link Field. We occupied a table in the corner, ordered up some Spröcketbiers and awaited the throng of fans from the baseball game to show up. I have to mention that this place has themed burgers for all of the schools in the Pac-12. I had to get the University of Colorado Buffalo Burger for my dinner, and it was delicious. Speaking of which, I met up with an old friend of mine from my college days. He’s an investigative reporter for KOMO and a funny guy. We were both elated that the one good player for CU football was drafted in the second round (by the Seahawks of all teams), and are hopeful that our team does better next season. He also happens to be a Broncos fan living in Seattle, so we commiserated. Then, for the last time, Robbie and I went about coaxing people to try our beer. They were very receptive and it was a great way to cap off our final event. Jay then took us out for one last hurrah on the town. We ended up at Von Trapp’s where we enjoyed some German pilsner and attempted to play bocce ball (because I always think of Germans when I hear bocce ball). Unfortunately, it was a busy night and the place would be closed before we could play. Robbie ended up being the cheerleader/heckler for one team and I made inane observations about their technique and wondered where Liesl was.

partii_02

Our flight wasn’t until later the next day, so we decided to spend the morning do touristy things yet again. This time, we decided to visit a distillery out in Woodinville. Woodinville Whiskey has an impressive setup. They have a beautiful combination pot and two-column still they use for all of their spirit production. They produce vodka made from wheat, bourbon and a delicious rye whiskey. All of their ingredients are sourced locally out in Yakima Valley, which I thought was impressive since they’re the largest craft distillery in Washington and must use a lot of grain. We toured the place and spoke with one of their distillers afterwards. He was super nice and walked us through their control systems, having us smell and taste a bit of their white dog coming off of the still. It was amazing.

partii_03

Next, Robbie and I zoomed back down to Seattle to hang out in the Fremont neighborhood a little more. We visited the Fremont Brewing Company and bought some bottles to bring home with us. We had to visit the Fremont Troll and get the cliché photo in front of it under the bridge. We then ran down to have lunch at this hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop called Royal Grinders. They rank up there next to Cheba Hut as my sandwich shop of choice. Having a little more time to waste before going to the airport, we decided to watch the rest of the Clippers game at this little hipster bar called 9 Million in Unmarked Bills. It was reminiscent of the roaring ‘20s, and had a good beer selection and great cocktails. Robbie and I kept it easy with some Elysian IPAs and watched the rest of the game before we headed out of the Emerald City.

partii_04

Afterword

Reflecting back on our epic journey, Robbie and I came to a realization that we’d like to share with readers. Craft beer people are the best kind of people. Generally speaking, we found that people who enjoy craft beer are super nice and genuine. This is a general observation, but we think that people who are generally open-minded are attracted to the crazy varieties and styles of craft beer. Open-minded people tend to be non-judgmental as well as easy to talk to and visit with. We had a blast with the people we met on our trip. Thank you to all who came out and helped make this the tremendous, once-in-a-lifetime experience it was for both of us.

Anything But Just Another IPA: Beachwood/Heretic/Stone Unapologetic IPA

We can see the headlines now: Stone makes another IPA! The world is shocked at such a divergence from a company that hardly ever explores hoppy beer styles. Yes, that’s sarcasm! Obviously, no one will be shocked to discover we’re making yet another aggressive IPA. We’ve never tried to hide our lust for hops. Heck, we freely fly our hophead flag. But we’re sure the question will arise. Stone has already made a bunch of IPAs, so why make another. Isn’t the already lupulin-obsessed market saturated with hoppy beers? And who says the world needs another IPA, anyway? We do!

unapologetic_01

The Thrilling Adventures of Team Spröcket: Part I

Earlier this year, we announced the winners of the inaugural edition of our annual company brewing competition, The Stone Spotlight Series. Taking first place for a black rye Kölsch-style brew our fans came to know as Spröcketbier (there’s still a bit of this delicious beer out there, so consult the Stone Beer Finder to get a taste) was Team Spröcket—QA Supervisor Rick Blankemeier and Warehouse Supervisor Robbie Chandler. This big win allowed the duo not only to brew this spicy, refreshing beer on Stone’s full-sized system and have it distributed nationally, but also to on tour with the beer, visiting a number of beery locations throughout the country. The following is Blankemeier’s account of what he calls a “thrilling adventure,” one in which he and Marshall met and shared many a pint with beer fans and brewers every bit as passionate as they are.

First Stop: Philly

The flight was way too early, but our spirits were high. Taking a couple of days off of work so we could fly to Philly to help sell our winning beer? You bet we were happy about that. Don’t get me wrong. I love my job, but it’s fun to switch up the routine every now and again. This would be the first visit to Philly for me and Robbie, so we were excited to see what the City of Brotherly Love was all about (and maybe gain some insight on why they booed Santa).

After a six-hour direct flight (thanks Stone!), Stone Sales Rep, Lee Marren, was there to pick us up and put us through our paces. We knew Lee sells Stone beer in the Philly area, but what they neglected to tell us was that he is a cyborg intent on working us tirelessly the whole time we were there. Though Lee was hesitant that it’s taboo for a local to be within a certain radius of touristy spots, he started by taking us to Pat’s King of Steaks for some grub. The cheesesteak (whiz wit) was good, but even better was the show that Pat himself put on by yelling at some customers that nearly forgot their sandwich, and yelling at one of his line cooks for making two of the same sandwich and delaying the process by (gasp) 10 seconds. Another thing I learned about Philadelphians is that yelling at people who wronged you–however slight–is highly encouraged. I was raised in suburban Colorado, where that’s not a regional custom, so, as you can imagine, this was quite an experience for me.

parti_01

Stomachs full, we made our way to east Jersey for our first event at Chickie and Pete’s. The place was great—very low key and fun. The people were nice and the Spröcketbier flowed freely. Afterward, we made our merry way back to Philly and bar-hopped to check out the local craft beer scene before finally checking into our hotel at 2 a.m. to get a few hours of sleep before Lee the Cyborg got us awake and ready for a full day of—you guessed it—more beer.

Our first stop was the Food Market, a really cool deli/bottle shop where we conducted tastings of Sprocketbier and Stone Go To IPA during the lunch hour. We had some great interactions with Philadelphians. A highlight was a young gentleman who informed us he was sorry for being late for our tasting. He was so excited to try some of the new Sprocketbier and would have been on time, but a fight broke out on the train on the way over. This was the third time I noted someone telling me details of a recent fight they’d been in or around since arriving in Philly. A staggering stat, considering I’d barely been in the city for 18 hours!

Next stop was a fine establishment called the Hulmeville Inn. This was arguably my favorite event on the Philadelphia leg of the journey. We ran into a local homebrew club that was there for the event and spoke about nerdy beer geek things, which was a pleasure for me. I learned that the Hulmeville Inn was built in the 1780s and documented to be the overnight stopover for none other than George Washington when he was on his way to New York to be inaugurated our first President. I’m a history geek as well as a beer geek, so this fascinated me. I also learned that some jackass ran his car into the front patio of the place a couple of weeks before we got there and they had to renovate the whole area. The best part was when Rod Stewart came to sell us pickles. It wasn’t really Rod Stewart, of course, just a guy in a red tracksuit with a Stewart-esque hair wig that was selling pickles and pepperoni sticks to customers. He even had a teenaged minion that took the cash and distributed the goods. (Breaking Bad much?) I bought spicy horseradish pickles from him, and you know what…they were damn tasty.

Our final stop was the Perch Pub in downtown Philly, where we had a blast. The view was great, the beer was fresh and the food was awesome. The locals came out in droves for the event, and Robbie and I were kept busy talking about the beer, the process and what we had planned for the rest of the Spröcketbier Tour. It was a great ending to a whirlwind visit to the City of Brotherly Love. I was bugging Lee to take us to the Rocky statue so Robbie and I could take a triumphant picture next to the Italian Stallion, but he refused to be within a mile of it, explaining his Philly cred was already in jeopardy by his taking us to Pat’s and that if he was spotted near the statue, he might be banished. Oh well.

Next Stop: The ATL

Our flight from Philly to Atlanta began with what’s probably the shortest radio interview ever conducted. Robbie and I were scheduled to phone-in to a Philly-based craft beer radio show about the same time we were supposed to board the plane to the ATL. To paint the picture, Robbie and I were essentially cuddling in the airport waiting area by the gate while sharing ear buds connected to my smart-phone. We then had to get up to wait in line and continued our furious bro-cuddling while being pummeled with questions. Robbie and I basically spewed all of the info about the Stone Spotlight Series competition, described what we were going for while brewing Spröcketbier, and made a charming joke about how we were sharing ear buds and cuddling in the City of Brotherly Love–all in under a minute. It was arguably entertaining, but irrefutably efficient!

parti_02

Atlanta was the exact opposite of our whirlwind, manic go-round in Philly. We had lots of time to relax and chill between events. Our Georgia Sales Rep, Brett Collier, picked us up from the airport and took us to eat at a sports bar with fantastic wings and a great beer selection while we watched the Hawks game. He then dropped us off to check in at our hotel and take much-needed naps before we headed over to the The Marlay House for our keynote event. Located in Decatur, a really cool little suburb outside Atlanta with lots of locally-owned businesses and shops, the Marlay house is a beacon for this deceptively craft beer-centric city. I have to admit, the Atlanta area has a much better beer scene than I expected coming in. We ran into a bunch of homebrewers along with an all-female craft beer appreciation society called “Girls’ Pint Out.” We also met up with Stone Southeast regional Sales Manager Scott Sheridan. I think if you looked up the word “laidback” in the dictionary, you would find a picture of Scotty sitting on the beach with an IPA. There’d probably be a definition that read: adj. the opposite of Lee Marren. Bonus factoid: Scot also looks like Dean Martin. I’ll let that paint a picture in your mind-boxes. Everyone who came out was great and we had an awesome time chatting it up with the locals. I’m definitely going back to Atlanta at some point in the near future, because the 24 hours I spent there wasn’t nearly enough time.

Stop #3: C-Town

Another early flight, a changeover in Dallas, and we were on our way to the shining jewel of the upper Midwest…Cleveland. I know what you’re thinking, because everyone we ran into in Cleveland said the same thing: “Wait, you guys won a brewing competition and as a reward they sent you to Cleveland?! Are you sure you won?” I’ll admit, I was thinking along similar lines, but it turns out that Cleveland is an amazing craft beer town. Our local Sales Rep, Lairdy Lee, picked us up from the airport and drove us the short distance to the hotel to get checked in, then we were right back on the road en route to our first stop at The Brew Kettle. It’s an amazing place where they brew their own beer, smoke their own meat and you can even sign up to brew on their in-house brewing systems. They had Spröcketbier on tap, so that automatically upgraded them in my standings by a couple of points, and their smoked wings were amazing, as were the people, who took extra special care of us while we were putting food and beer in our faces. I highly recommend stopping by the place if you’re ever in the area.

parti_03

We had the first half of the next day completely open and Lairdy suggested we go over to the West Side Market area to visit a couple of breweries. This was the first chance for us to see another brewery whilst on our adventure, so we jumped at the chance. First stop was Great Lakes Brewing Company. Great Lakes is an amazing example of a rapidly growing craft brewery trying to squeeze every ounce of beer out of a limited area. This is definitely a common theme amongst most craft breweries today, Stone included. The industry is growing at an amazing rate and trying to keep up with an increase in demand requires some creative solutions. They had fermenters and production on multiple stories in an old building. Everyone was super friendly there and we ended up having lunch at their pub across the street from their production facility.

Next up on our impromptu brewery tour was just down the street at Market Garden Brewery. We met up with brewmaster Andy Tveekrem and he graciously let us sample some lagers off of the tanks. I’m a huge fan of a well-crafted pilsner, helles or dortmunder, and his beers were amazing. Andy’s brewing setup was small, but very well designed and laid-out. It was a thing of beauty. We didn’t have enough time to stick around too long, but the beers were great and the company was even better.

parti_04

The party at the Tremont Taphouse, our destination for the afternoon, was in full swing when we rolled in. A couple of very nice newspaper reporters interviewed us in a corner booth. We went into our usual, well-practiced description of the competition and the beer itself, wherein Robbie coined the term, “undrunkable,” to describe our beer. I’m not the biggest fan of the term personally, but it’s a fun way to describe how sessionable, yet tasty, our beer turned out. We also discussed the state of the craft beer industry and the generosity of craft breweries. Basically, we had fun being the rock stars and having people care about our opinions on matters great and small. The rest of the event was spent talking to the locals and going through tasting notes from the various beer enthusiasts trying to nail down the Spröcketbier recipe.

From there, we piled into a taxi and headed to Progressive Field to catch an Indians game. The stadium wasn’t far from Tremont, but we underestimated the popularity of Cher and it took us a while to beat traffic from her concert that evening. Progressive Field is a great place to catch a game. They have an impressive list of craft beers available and it’s pretty to boot. The Indians took on the White Sox. One of my best friends back in my home state of Colorado is a big White Sox fan, so I had to send him pictures and updates on how bad they were getting thrashed by the Tribe (final score: 12-5 Indians). It was a great time.

parti_05

Last stop before bedtime and another early flight the next day was to silence our gnawing hunger. We were told by numerous Cleveland veterans that there’s only one place we have to go to eat: Melt Bar and Grilled. And it was mind-blowing. They have an absurd number of variations on the classic grilled cheese sandwiches there. I had the buffalo chicken sandwich, and everyone else had the “Dude Abides,” homemade meatballs and fried Mozzarella with marinara sauce and, of course, more cheese. I can’t tell you how much that hit the spot after a long day of drinking.

I just want you all to know that while poor Cleveland may be the butt of many jokes, the people are awesome and, after being there, you can’t deny it’s one of the better craft beer towns out there. Throw in the fact that the food is some of the best I’ve had anywhere and it’s easy to recommend giving Cleveland a chance if you ever get the opportunity to go.

Follow the Leader: Who Was Your #CraftBeerShepherd?

It’s easy to look at craft beer as some sort of underground club, with all of the secret passwords (Reinheitsgebot?) and acronyms (IBU, OG and CO2 to name a few). Plus, you know some particularly beer geeky bottle-shares must have unique and complicated (if not completely dorky) handshakes. But once you get into the world of beer, it isn’t so intimidating. The hardest part is becoming aware that the world of craft beer exists at all. Having a guide already privy to the lingo, hot spots and best brews makes things a lot easier. Nearly every craft beer fan has a good-hearted shepherd to thank for taking the time to expose them to something better, and we want to recognize these people for the good they do. To put it simply, by selflessly guiding people toward the promised land, they make the world a better place. That’s why we’re asking you to take a moment to call them out for their good deeds on social media. Go online and tell us who showed you the light by telling your story and tagging them on Facebook or calling them out on Twitter using #craftbeershepherd. When doing so, take a second and ponder where you would you be without them—perhaps falling for gimmicks like Vortex bottles, black crowns, crafty branding and subsisting solely on American adjunct-laced swill. Praise be to the #craftbeersheperd!

IMG_8942-v2

Long Lost Epic: Stone Stochasticity Project Quadrotriticale

By now, many are familiar with our newest brewing foray, the Stone Stochasticity Project. But even two brews in, you may not be familiar with the term “stochastic,” especially in the context of brewing. The definition of stochasticity is wordy and probably only truly makes sense if you’ve studied Probability Theory in depth (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy doesn’t count—that’s Improbability Theory), but even our one-track minds picked up on the potential and complexity of this idea. In layman’s terms, stochastic is a non-deterministic, or random, state. So, why not just say that? For one, the scientific background would be lost, and random just doesn’t have the same ring as Stochasticity, nor all the connotation. Two, the Stone Stochasticity Project is much more than just brewing beer. It involves delving beyond what most people think about beyond beer’s four main ingredients. So where does that leave us in our ever-evolving quest for good craft beer? Right at the newest member of this series, Stone Stochasticity Project Quadrotriticale, a beer that holds up to the stochastic and technical nature of this venture.

Top Chef in the House: Amanda Vs. The Arbolcots

We knew Amanda Baumgarten could cook, but once we caught a glimpse of one of her homebrew recipes, it was abundantly clear that her artisanal skills extended beyond the kitchen and into the brewing arena. A former cheftestant on Bravo TV’s wildly popular competition show Top Chef, the talented toque recently opened a thriving gastropub called Waypoint Public in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood. Despite being in one of the most craft beer-centric parts of the city (the community is also home to Toronado San Diego, Tiger! Tiger! Tavern, Mike Hess Brewing Company, Thorn St. Brewery and lots more), her restaurant is known for having one of the best beer selections in town. That clout rose even more this summer when Baumgarten was able to add a beer of her own devising to the tap list—Amanda Vs. The Arbolcots.

blog_01

Barrel Aging Part II: Original Wine & Spirit Flavors

Earlier this year, we solicited questions from our fans about our barrel-aging program, then funneled all of those queries, like fine imperial stout into barrels, to our Research and Small Batch Manager Steve Gonzalez. Steve is in charge of our barrels and has a storied vocational lineage that includes many years spent at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and E&J Gallo Winery. Basically, he knows everything. (He’s not a self-proclaimed know-it-all, mind you…we’re the ones getting sublimely self-righteous on his behalf.) One of the many cool things about Steve is that he relishes the opportunity to share info about his specialized line of work. As such, he was happy to tackle our fans’ questions. He tackled so many, that we’re doling out his answers via a four-part series. This, the second installment, covers inquiries about wine and spirit flavors that are trapped in the barrels we use and ultimately lend flavor to the beers we age in those oak vessels.

p2_01B