Constants & Variables: The Lupulin Loop

As the Brewing Manager at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station. I would like to introduce a new series of beers that will rotate through our central San Diego brewery-restaurant. We at Stone make no secret of our love for hops and are always pushing the boundaries with beer experimentations—especially when it comes to hops. For years, we’ve played with multiple hop varieties, and the impact to our IPAs has been immense. One may ask, with so many hop varieties out there, how we do we continue to develop so many new and successful IPAs? Truth is it’s never as easy as throwing a bunch of hops into our wort and crossing our fingers. Every hop is different, unique and complex with a wide range of flavors and aromas that could be compared to fruits, spices and even vegetables. We spend a lot of time getting intimately acquainted with the myriad of hops in our chilled down lockers, and now it’s time for our fans to get in on that familiarization.

Enter what I have come to refer to as, “The Lupulin Loop.” Why the Lupulin Loop? Maybe I just watched Groundhog’s Day too much as a kid. Maybe it’s because Tom Cruise just came out with that movie Edge of Tomorrow. Or maybe I’m still trying to play through Bioshock Infinite and I learned that when Elizabeth goes through the tears she goes to another dimension where everything looks the same but it’s actually different. Regardless, it’s all about constants and variables. With these beers, they’ll always have the same malts, alcohol, IBU (international bittering units), PH, color…or as close to the same as I can possibly get them. The only thing that will change in the beer is the single variety of hop being used (even for bittering). The base of the beer is the constant (the loop), while the hop (Lupulin…the compound in hops that provides that addictive bitterness we all love) is the sole variable.

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Fans who frequent Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station (you try fitting that on your business card!) have already experienced some of these single-hop beers, and both smelled and tasted how much each hop impacts the beer all by its lonesome. For those that haven’t, here’s what’s spun from The Lupulin Loop so far:

  • Bite the Bullet (Green Bullet single-hop): Tropical fruit, citrus and pine with herbal, dank notes
  • AleBelma (Belma single-hop): Strawberries and grape jam mixed with stone fruits
  • Lost City of Liquid Gold (El Dorado single-hop): Citrus, tropical fruits and lemon Starburst candy
  • Bear Tales From Polaria (Polaris single-hop): Intense garlic and onion, mint and mild citrus
  • Simcoe’s for Sartori (Simcoe single-hop): Citrus-flavored, piney and dank

So why go with The Lupulin Loop instead of coming up with more of these cute, fun names for our single-hop beers. To be honest, I’m a busy man and so is everyone else working at Stone. Each time I create a new beer with a new name I have to do this really fun thing called paperwork (definition: sit a desk longer than I want to when I’d rather be brewing…ha), which in return creates more paperwork for everyone else (when they’d rather be brewing or doing beer-related things, too). The creation of The Lupulin Loop equals way less paperwork, less confusion and easier to remember single-hop beers for everyone. Plus, come on, The Lupulin Loop is an awesome name.

The first creation under the The Lupulin Loop flag features Australian Topaz hops. At 16.4% alpha acid, this hop has great stone fruit qualities mixed with notes of garlic, pineapple and grassy dankness. Those are just the first notes that come through, though. Come out and try it for your-self.

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And Now, Some Hophead Q&A

How do you select the hops?

Sometimes the hops are new hop varieties (e.g., Belma, El Dorado, Polaris) that we have done some small batch dry-hop trials with and found quite exceptional. There have also been instances where we are considering using the hop in a new large-scale beer, so want to get a better feel for it. Other times, I pick the hops to pay tribute to my Team Stone co-workers (Simcoe for Brewhouse Supervisor Chris Sartori and Topaz for Cellar Supervisor Mike Richmond). Other times, we do it just for the hell of it because we think a particular hop kicks ass and want to exploit it (Green Bullet).

What becomes of the hops after the single hop trial?

Depending on if we like the hop variety or not, we will use it for new beers. For example, all of us at Stone were extremely impressed with the El Dorado hop and have used it in a local-release beer called Stone Delicious IPA, and as the exclusive hop used to dry-hop Stone 18th Anniversary IPA. Others like Belma and Green Bullet have been used in various other Liberty Station beers like Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station Sesquipedalian IPA.

What’s next?

There are lots of hops to choose from and I can’t wait to catch them all (ha!). As a little teaser, up next we will be showcasing Comet followed by Jarrylo (Yar-I-Lo).

When can I expect Citra, Mosaic or Nelson?

Shut up! (Just kidding.) Those hops are awesome, but are in extremely limited supply. Our primary focus for these hops is for Stone Go To IPA and Stone Enjoy By IPA…for now.

Hoppy Uncharted Territory: Stone 18th Anniversary IPA

We pride ourselves on being unpredictable, but we’re able to be honest with ourselves and say that, when it comes to our annual anniversary beer releases, fans know what to expect—something extremely hoppy! And most years, that means an over-the-top India pale ale. Ten out of the 17 anniversary beers we’ve produced to-date have been IPAs, including the past four consecutive years. So, it should come as no surprise that this year, our milestone-celebrating beer is another IPA. But, much as we’ve refused to be completely predictable with our anniversary IPAs (the past four years have featured an imperial British-style IPA, double black IPA, lemon verbena-infused imperial rye IPA, and 100% German-hopped double IPA), 2014’s commemorative hop monster is extremely original. In fact, we’re billing Stone 18th Anniversary IPA as the “hoppiest golden-brown IPA on Earth!” (Yes, that’s our subtle brand of sarcasm you’re picking up there!)

El Dorado hops make up a large part of the hop bill—the beer is dry-hopped with a whopping two pounds per barrel of it. Brewmaster Mitch Steele first fell in love with this citrusy hop when he brewed a 100% El Dorado collaboration ale with Northern California’s Drake’s Brewing Company in 2013. It’s since found its way into a number of new brews, including Stone Go To IPA and a little ditty released in our hometown of San Diego called Stone Delicious IPA. But this beer isn’t all about hops. If anything, it’s the specialty malts that give it most of its uniqueness. English Brown Coffee, Cara Munich and Chocolate Wheat malts bring on more than the heralded golden-brown hue—they also provide plenty of flavor and texture. The resulting brew is, appropriately, one for the ages. Sweet-tart flavors of lemon candy come on strong on the front palate, giving way to a sharp grapefruit bitterness accompanied by bready, biscuit character in the finish. It’s a testament to how well hops and malts can marry when properly balanced, and Steele and the Brew Crew nailed it with this golden-brown all-star.

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If you’re like us, you read something like “ten out of the 17 anniversary beers we’ve produced to-date have been IPAs,” and your inner beer geek wants to know what those brews were. We totally get that, so here is a list of the past 18 years-worth of Stone celebratory offerings.

  • Stone 1st Anniversary IPA (now Stone IPA)
  • Stone 2nd Anniversary IPA
  • Stone 3rd Anniversary IPA
  • Stone 4th Anniversary IPA
  • Stone 5th Anniversary IPA (now Stone Ruination IPA)
  • Stone 6th Anniversary Porter
  • Stone 7th Anniversary Ale (“Super Special Pale Ale”)
  • Stone 8th Anniversary Ale (Imperial Mild)
  • Stone 9th Anniversary Ale (Imperial Wheat)
  • Stone 10th Anniversary IPA
  • Stone 11th Anniversary Ale (now Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA)
  • Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
  • Stone 13th Anniversary IPA
  • Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA
  • Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA
  • Stone 16th Anniversary IPA
  • Stone 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA
  • Stone 18th Anniversary IPA

Even with all these hop-heavy brews under our belts, we continue to push the envelope. We thank you for coming along for the ride and look forward to another 18 years (and more) of anniversary-inspired exploration!

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Photo by StudioSchulz.com

Stats & Tasting Notes by Brewmaster Mitch Steele

  • ABV: 8.5%
  • IBUs: 75
  • Availability: Limited 22-ounce bottles and draft, beginning August 11
  • Hop Bill: Nugget, Centennial, Belma, Sterling, Hopsteiner 06300, El Dorado
  • Distribution: AK, AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, and Puerto Rico
  • Appearance: Pours deep amber with a reddish-brown hue and an off-white-colored head.
  • Aroma: Herbal, lemon and lemongrass hop notes, combined with very light levels of cocoa, coffee and roasted malts.
  • Taste: Fruity hops, lemon, orange zest and tropical fruit, with a complex malt base featuring coffee and toffee elements. The hop finish is very lemony.
  • Palate: Full bodied with a bitter, dry finish.
  • Overall: This beer was conceptualized a bit later than usual, and several iterations were created before we settled on this recipe. Using a small amount of English Brown Coffee Malt in a double IPA seemed like an interesting idea to me, and was inspired in part by the success we had brewing Aleman/Two Brothers/Stone DayMan Coffee IPA and The Alchemist/Ninkasi/Stone More Brown Than Black IPA. The malt character is rich and complex, with hints of cocoa and coffee that don’t interfere with the hop intensity. We used one of our favorite new hop varieties, El Dorado, 100 percent in the dry-hop stage, which provides a distinctive lemony character in the aroma and taste that we’ve come to affectionately describe as “lemon candy.”

Suggested Food Pairings by “Dr.” Bill Sysak

  • Appetizers: Blistered shishito peppers, grilled prosciutto-wrapped shrimp, sweet potato fries with roasted garlic aioli, fried pork wontons
  • Soups and Salads: Kale & white bean soup, miso ramen, tortilla soup, chicken salad, green mango salad
  • Entrees: Roasted chicken, pad Thai, stuffed acorn squash, pork chops, carnitas tacos
  • Cheeses: Fiscalini Bandage Wrapped Cheddar, Idiazabal, Cypress Grove Chevre Lamb Chopper®, Bellwether Farms San Andreas
  • Desserts: Peach cobbler, apricot cheesecake, carrot cake, baked nectarines with pistachios
  • Cigars: Drew Estate Herrera Esteli Piramide, Tatuaje Cabaiguan, Rocky Patel Connecticut, L’Atelier Lat56

#PairedWith Wages On: Stone Coffee Milk Stout

When we debuted Stone Saison, we did more than introduce our unique spin on a Belgian-style ale. We also ushered in a new age that allows our fans to get involved with discovering the best-suited edible vehicles for maximum enjoyment of our beers, all thanks to a hashtag—#PairedWith. When Stone Saison came out, we provided a quartet of recipes constructed to pair perfectly with the beer, so fans could prepare them and experience food-and-beer symbiosis for themselves. But we also asked fans to experiment with dishes and ingredients they thought would go well with Stone Saison and share their most successful pairings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest using #PairedWith. It was fun, educational and, at times, even surprising, and lots of people from beer- and food-bloggers to everyday craft beer nuts, got involved. So, we’re moving forward with our #PairedWith initiative, this time with a beer that’s completely different but amazingly well-suited for sidling up beside a variety of dishes, both savory and sweet—our new Stone Coffee Milk Stout.

Smooth, satiny and malt-forward, Stone Coffee Milk Stout is all fans of this style could want…and more. Not only is it rich yet highly drinkable, but thanks to an infusion of coffee beans from our North County San Diego neighbors at Ryan Bros. Coffee, a nice roastiness permeates this quaff, bringing in familiar flavors that sync with a wide-ranging array of culinary offerings from chocolate, caramel, dark berries, nuts, grains, maple and molasses to beef, lamb, bacon, mushrooms, soups, sauces and a variety of charred, smoked, grilled and roasted items. That increased versatility sprouts from Stone Brewer Brian Gallagher’s decision to add coffee beans early in the brewing process when taking his homebrew recipe to the next level as a small batch brew at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station. Gallagher studied brewing in the U.K. In the process, he gained a deep appreciation for traditional beer styles and developed a recipe for a spot-on milk stout. It was so good that, upon tasting it, the powers that be here at Stone decided it should be brewed on an even larger scale and distributed nationwide.

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Now that Stone Coffee Milk Stout is on (or on its way to) shelves, it’s ready to not only be enjoyed on its own, but in tandem with a plethora of edibles of our fans’ choosing. Get inventive or stay traditional, but whatever you do, please share it with us using #PairedWith. We’ll be ready to share and retweet your pairings so that everybody out there can get a taste of what works. It’s a team effort and we’re glad to have you on the roster. To get you started, we’ve included some suggested pairings from our in-house bon vivant, Craft Beer Ambassador “Dr.” Bill Sysak, but don’t stop there…get involved and start pairing this beer up with some of your favorite dishes and ingredients, then tell us about it on social media. Or try our recipe for Chocolate Coffee Milk Stout Cheesecake with Espresso Crust, Coffee Milk Stout Ganache and Chocolate-Dipped Espresso Beans (developed by yours truly), then check out Stone Coffee Milk Stout’s webpage for three other Stone recipes developed specifically to succinctly marry with this malt-forward, java-laced brew.

Photo by Studio Schulz

Photo by Studio Schulz

Stats & Tasting Notes by Brewmaster Mitch Steele

  • ABV: 4.2%
  • Availability: Limited 12-ounce bottles in six-pack and draft, beginning August 4
  • Hops Bill: Magnum
  • Distribution: AK, AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA & Puerto Rico
  • Appearance: Pours black with a thick brown head.
  • Aroma: Dark-roasted malts give off coffee and cocoa, with hints of smokiness.
  • Taste: Pronounced coffee and dark-roasted malt flavors that contain hints of cocoa and licorice, and a lot of fruit esters from the fermentation. This is a very malty beer.
  • Palate: Light-bodied and smooth, with a semisweet but also slightly dry finish.
  • Overall: Several unique things about this formulation make the beer special, including the addition of San Diego roaster Ryan Bros Coffee beans in the mash. We also use British mild ale malt as the base malt and the addition of milk sugar, which brewer’s yeast does not ferment. These components add some body and a touch of sweetness to the resulting beer. At only 4.2 percent ABV, some might expect this beer to be thin, but that’s far from the truth– it is a smooth and satisfying beer.

Suggested Food Pairings by “Dr.” Bill Sysak

  • Appetizers: Bacon-wrapped dates, roasted chestnuts, leek-stuffed mushrooms, beef satay, oysters on the half shell
  • Soups: Cream of mushroom, beef and barley, French onion, split pea
  • Entrees: Prime rib, baby back ribs, blue cheese Portobello burgers, black bean and cheese enchiladas
  • Desserts: Chocolate lava cake, tiramisu, vanilla ice cream, s’mores
  • Cheeses: Aged Gouda, Gorgonzola Dolce, Maytag Blue, Tumalo Farms Pondhopper
  • Cigars: Padrón 3000, Rocky Patel Decade, Gurkha Park Avenue Maduro, Oliva Serie G Maduro

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Chocolate Coffee Milk Stout Cheesecake

with Espresso Crust, Coffee Milk Stout Ganache & Chocolate-Dipped Espresso Beans

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

  • 2 cups Stone Coffee Milk Stout
  • 11 ounces chocolate sandwich cookies, crème removed, pulverized into crumbs
  • 1 ounce instant espresso powder
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1½ pounds cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 ounces milk chocolate, melted
  • 6 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 cup Coffee Milk Stout Ganache (recipe follows)
  • 2 cups sweetened whipped cream
  • chocolate-covered espresso beans

Bring the beer to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce by 80% then set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cookie crumbs, espresso powder and butter to form a moist mixture. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch round spring-form pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Cream the cream cheese, granulated sugar and cocoa powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix in the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix until smooth. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the side of the bowl. Add the flour and mix, slowly at first, until it is fully incorporated. Fold in the melted chocolate, heavy cream and beer reduction. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the spring-form pan and bake until the cheesecake is fully set, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Remove the cake from the oven and pour the ganache into the pan. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. To serve, slice the cake into individual servings, place a dollop of whipped cream atop each slice and garnish with espresso beans.

Coffee Milk Stout Ganache

  • ½ cup Stone Coffee Milk Stout
  • ½ Tbsp granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

Bring the beer to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Whisk in the sugar, reduce to 1½ tablespoons. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat. Stir in the beer reduction. Stir in the butter, 1 cube at a time, and mix until it is fully incorporated. Remove from the heat.

—Recipe courtesy Brandon Hernández, beer-and-food journalist / Senior Communications Specialist, Stone Brewing Co.

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!

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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.

Crank It Up: Kyle Hollingsworth / Keri Kelli / Stone Collective Distortion IPA

Our new double India pale ale, Kyle Hollingsworth / Keri Kelli / Stone Collective Distortion IPA recently wrapped up a whirlwind, coast-to-coast pre-release tour. Considering this fruity and pleasantly earthy brew’s rock star status, it seemed fitting to afford it the touring band treatment its co-creators are used to. That duo consists of The String Cheese Incident keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth and guitarist Keri Kelli of Alice Cooper and Skid Row fame. Together, like savants providing a reliable backbeat for a most magnificent jam session, the duo guided us toward the recipe for this neo-traditional beer. The hop bill consists of Calypso, Comet and Nugget hops, given staccato-esque punctuation thanks to healthy dry-hopping with Vic’s Secret, a recently introduced hop from Australia. But anybody can come up with an out-there (or Down Under) assemblage of hops. What turns this already blaring imperial IPA up to 11 is spicing from coriander seeds and—a first for us—elderberries. It’s unlike any IPA we’ve ever made…and we’ve made a lot of IPAs!

Spicing Up Spring: Stone Smoked Porter w/Chipotle Pepper

Most of our fans are under the impression Stone Smoked Porter w/Chipotle Peppers debuted in 2012. There’s good reason for this. In May of that year, we launched a website, announcing the existence of that beer along with its cousin, Stone Smoked Porter w/Vanilla Bean. This coincided with our national launch of both beers, but as those whose fanatic-level knowledge of our humble brewing company know, both beers came into being years before, though their impetuses were quite different. The epiphany for the bean-bolstered brew came when one of our small batch brewers plopped a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream into a pint of Stone Smoked Porter, while the smoked jalapeño-infused version was presented as an alternative to thin, fizzy, low-flavor macro-lagers offered around Cinco de Mayo.

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#PairedWith: Stone Saison

Few, if any beer styles offer such a wide-ranging array of flavors as saison. Alternately referred to as “farmhouse ales” for the French and Belgian rural structures in which the style originated, no two taste the same, and therein lies the glory of the saison. Anything goes…and we like that! Tangy, earthy, peppery, herbaceous, floral, spicy and fruity are among the numerous descriptors that can accompany this rangy beer style. So, when conceptualizing our new Stone Saison, we were essentially able to go in any direction we wanted. It seemed only right to bottle up a Belgian-style beer that, while different from most of the incredibly hoppy offerings we’re known for, clearly embodied who we are; something 100% Stone! It was a tall order, but one sip is all it’ll take to show fans why we think we came through with flying colors.

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The Next Step: Stone Enjoy By 04.20.14 IPA

We, like many hopheads, are immensely bullish on the incredible flavor and intense citrusy, bitter impact provided by our ultra-fresh Stone Enjoy By IPA. But believe it or not, for us, it isn’t just about the beer. Yes, given the massive outpouring of affection for this West Coast double IPA, that last statement sounds kind of odd, but it’s true. Stone Enjoy By IPA was forged with greater intentions than mere satiation. It was designed to convey the importance, nay, the necessity of drinking hoppy beer when it’s fresh. We overtly stamp each batch with a 35-day Enjoy By date, and when that day comes up on the calendar, this beer should be out of your fridge and off retailers’ shelves. Drinking it beyond the date printed on that evergreen bottle simply won’t provide the same, vivid experience. But we went far beyond the bottle, communicating the facts on freshness via our Stone Enjoy By IPA website and our social media channels. It was a worthwhile endeavor, and much of that was thanks to you. Through social conversations online and over pints of this beer, many who had no idea how important beer freshness was have been converted, thus improving their quality of life and craft beer enjoyment forever. For those of you who helped increase the reach of that lesson, we thank you and are excited to share the steps we’ve taken to further broaden the reach of this important message and share in the many splendors of Stone Enjoy By IPA.

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The Whole Story: Stone Stochasticity Project

There’s been some major buzz around a new beer lately. Maybe you’ve heard about it…a double IPA infused with a grove’s worth of hand-peeled grapefruit zest. For devout Stone fans (or more casual visitors to our booth at last year’s Great American Beer Festival), the name of this beer—Grapefruit Slam IPA—probably sounded quite familiar. After all, one of the one-offs we received the most compliments on from beer lovers was our Stone Ruination IPA – Grapefruit Slam Edition. Given this, of course, those deeper down the Stone rabbit hole wondered if we were behind this mysterious new Stochasticity Project brand, despite the fact the beer was registered under a different entity, Koochenvagner Brewing Company. We have something to say to those questioners, especially those who were most vocal—thank you.