Stone Smoked Porter: Now in Vanilla and Chipotle

Stone Blog -- Randy Clemens

Ah, Stone Smoked Porter. The second beer that we ever released, waaaaaay back in December of 1996. It’s a good thing, too… the world was in need of something wonderful, what, with Macarena still tormenting the airwaves and Jingle All The Way polluting movie theater screens. Anyway, back then, we called it Winter Stone, thinking it was just going to be a seasonal release. But when we took it away in the spring, people got a little up in arms and clamored for its triumphant return. (One of the most vocal supporters for bringing it back was Greg’s mom… so we kinda had to comply.)

As time went by, and we kept climbing higher and higher up the hop ladder, the humble Stone Smoked Porter stayed in demand, with its mellow smokiness and nuanced notes of coffee and chocolate. It kept a strong, almost cult-like following. Our unsung hero. Part of the reason it still remains so popular with its loyal fan base is that it pairs so damn well with a wide variety of food, ranging from barbecue to desserts. Heck, I’ll go so far as to say it’s our most food-friendly beer. And if you’re thinking, “Gosh, I bet that would be great with some vanilla beans or chipotle peppers in it,” you’re gonna freak out about this next paragraph.

Stone Ruination IPA turns the big 1-0

Stone Blog -- Randy Clemens

You know what the problem is with you young punk craft beer drinkers today? You don’t know how good you’ve got it! Double IPAs everywhere, flowing like water! Heck, when I was your age, I had to trek over 100 miles uphill in the snow to get something even remotely hoppy! Oh, gosh, who am I kidding? I’m only 27. The fact is, *I* am a young punk, reveling in the bounty of lupulin-loaded libations at my fingertips.

But thinking back, it’s crazy to see how far my tastes have come. And I know for a fact I’m not the only one who can say that. I remember tasting my first Stone IPA years ago… and absolutely hating it.  (Sorry Greg. Sorry Steve. I was young and naïve!) It was so much more bitter than anything I’d ever had, and I was sure that I was not, and would never be, a hophead. But I remember telling a friend about my less-than-stellar experience, and he immediately replied, “Oh, you should try Ruination! It’s their Double IPA!” Wait a tick; if their straight IPA was way too bitter for me, why in the hell would I want to try their Double IPA?! But my friend persisted, twisted my arm, held a gun to my head, and somehow got me to try a sip. And then… a HOPIPHANY.

He-Man Tripping Balls

This is how I felt when I had my first Stone Ruination IPA

Holy bitter breakthrough, Batman! What was this beautiful, citrusy magic I was tasting?! My eyes were opened. My worldview changed. I had seen the glory of the almighty hop, and it was good.

Bottleworks 13th Anniversary Ale by Stone Brewing Co.

Stone Blog -- Randy Clemens

Just one week after releasing the 2012 Stone Imperial Russian Stout, we’ve got another beer up our sleeves that’s coming to a glass near you starting today. A few years ago, Greg and Steve were approached by Matt Bonney and Matt “Vern” Vandenberghe (aka “The Matts”), the almighty wizards behind famed Seattle craft beer store Bottleworks. Every year, they work with a different craft brewery to formulate a special beer to commemorate their anniversary.

Sure enough, probably after a few beers, the conversation turned to: “Oh hey Greg! Wouldn’t it be cool to have Stone make one of our anniversary beers?!” Greg, quite known for having trouble saying no to cool projects, said yes. And Steve, quite known for having an appreciation of cigars and Scotch, was “somehow coerced” into saying yes (over cigars and Scotch) while attending a charity event at Brouwer’s Cafe, a wondrous Seattle craft beer restaurant also operated by The Matts. (Sneaky, aren’t they?)

From Russia with Love? | Stone Imperial Russian Stout

by Randy Clemens

I’m guessing you really don’t care to hear about anything IRS-related now that it’s mid-April, but stick with me here. This is a good IRS. It’s the über-dark, roasty-toasty, decadently rich Stone Imperial Russian Stout, and as of April 16th, it’s back again. For the twelfth time. (And for a limited time.) Originally brewed up in 2000, this was Steve’s tribute to the legendary, and decidedly dark Courage Russian Imperial Stout. Greg had a few bottles of the Courage ’93 vintage that he’d brought back with him from trip to Europe in 1995. When he and Steve gave it a taste, it was a bit of a revelation, to say the least.


What was this delicious motor oil? Where has it been all of our lives? What on earth does it have to do with Russia? Why aren’t more breweries repping this wonderfully decadent style? And when can we make one?

The Alchemist / Ninkasi / Stone More Brown Than Black IPA

Jacob McKean

Well, 2011 is rapidly drawing to a close, but we’re squeezing in yet another collaboration beer release—our fifth of the year—before it’s over. This one wasn’t on the calendar originally, but circumstances arose that demanded we brew it.

So we did.

Some background:

One of the many unfortunate casualties of Hurricane Irene was The Alchemist Pub and Brewery in Waterbury, VT, which was completely flooded and destroyed. When Stone Brewing Co. Brewmaster Mitch Steele heard of the loss, he immediately sent out an email to The Alchemist Head Brewer John Kimmich asking if there was anything he could do to help.

“John’s wife, Jen, wrote back suggesting that John fly out to Southern California for a few days… just to get a break from the reality of everything,” Mitch said. “And almost as an afterthought, she casually mentioned that maybe we could even brew something together. I ran with it.“

Mitch asked Jamie Floyd, Brewer/Co-founder of Ninkasi Brewing Company in Eugene, OR, if he wanted to complete the brewing trifecta, and he immediately jumped on board.

The Great American Beer Festival: See You There

Jacob McKean

The Great American Beer Festival is one of the world’s classic beer drinking experiences. This will be the 30th year of this epic celebration of American brewing, and it’s almost impossible to put into words how much it has changed.

From its very humble beginnings, to the colossal event it is today—which nearly takes over the city of Denver for three amazing days—the GABF is the ne plus ultra American beer festival.

In case you couldn’t tell, we’re very excited about it. The GABF is always an amazingly good time. From pouring beer on the festival floor to seeing old friends at the great beer bars around town, the GABF is more than the world’s premier beer drinking opportunity, it’s a gathering of the craft beer tribe.

In celebration of this fact, we’re putting together 5 worthy events at some great craft beer loving venues in Denver. For details on these amazing events, head over to the Stone Brewing in Colorado Facebook events page.

As for the Festival itself, we’ll have a very special opportunity for fans: Stone CEO & Co-Founder Greg Koch will be signing copies of our brand new book, The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance, along with co-author Randy Clemens.

The book is an insider’s guide on the history of Stone, and it shares homebrew recipes for many of our celebrated beers including Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine, Stone Smoked Porter, and Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout.

In addition, it features recipes from the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens like Garlic, Cheddar, and Stone Ruination IPA Soup, BBQ Duck Tacos, and the legendary Arrogant Bastard Ale Onion Rings, among other fascinating tidbits contained in the tome.

The dynamic duo of Randy & Greg will be signing & selling books at the Stone booth on the Festival floor at the following times: Thursday 9/29 from 7:30-9:30pm, Friday 9/30 from 6pm-8pm, and Saturday 10/1 from 2pm-4pm and 6pm-8pm.

But that’s not all, folks. We’ll also be pouring a bevy of wonderful Stone beers at our booth, including:

  • Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale
  • Double Dry Hopped Stone IPA
  • Stone Levitation Ale
  • Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA
  • 2011 Stone Old Guardian BELGO Barley Wine.

Yeah, you’re not going to want to miss our booth.

Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA

Jacob McKean

Back in May, a certain craft beer focused comic strip predicted that Stone’s 15th Anniversary Ale would be “something hoppy.” Well, that turned out to be half true. The beer is both hoppy AND black.

The name is Stone Brewing President & co-founder Steve Wagner’s chuckling jab at those looking to lay territorial claim to the Black IPA style.

“There’s this small faction of people that seems to think it can call Black IPAs ‘Cascadian Dark Ales,’ historical accuracy be damned,” Wagner explains. “So, we thought we’d lightheartedly lay claim to our own style, dubbing it ‘Escondidian,’ both as an homage to our hometown of Escondido, CA and as a gentle ribbing to those Black IPA fans worshipping a false Cascadian idol.”

Fortunately, the contents of the bottle more than back up the coded smack talk. This is one beast of a beer. Yes, it is hoppy. Very hoppy. Bittered with Columbus hops, with a late Citra addition, followed by prodigious dry-hopping with Nelson Sauvin and Pacific Jade hops from New Zealand, the beer boasts a fragrant and complex hop aroma.

And yes, it is black. As black as the inside of a locked-up fermentor. What does it taste like, you ask? Let’s let Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele do the talking:


Pours thick, opaque and black with a deep brown head of foam. Resinous, piney hops hit first on the aromatics, followed by healthy doses of roasted malt flavors, including coffee, anise and cocoa. The multi-layered aroma profile presents a challenge: is this an Imperial IPA, or is this an Imperial Stout?

Tasting answers the question, it’s an Imperial Black IPA, with intense herbal and piney hops and a great balance of roasted malt flavors. The beer is full bodied, with a touch of alcohol heat, and the hops are upfront all the way through the palate, finishing with an intense bitter linger. The roasted malt comes through more like cocoa in the taste, and balances fantastically with the hops and the alcohol on the aftertaste.

Overall impression:  Our 15th Anniversary marks another year for Stone Brewing Co. and we were encouraged to brew a beer fitting such an auspicious milestone. So we went all out, and brewed one of our darkest, hoppiest and most colossal beers we’ve ever brewed. We also used the opportunity to add copious amounts of Citra hops in the brewhouse, with New Zealand Nelson Sauvin and Pacific Jade in the dry-hop…marking the first time we’ve ever really used these wonderful hops. We do recommend drinking this beer as fresh as possible, but those inclined to age their beers will probably not be disappointed, as the intense roast malt flavors will enhance the aging potential of this beer, even as the fresh hop character fades over time. If you do decide to age, we strongly suggest not to do it with just one bottle tucked away in the back of your closet for some undetermined amount of time, but rather with a few bottles, properly cellared (55 degrees F, or below), and a predetermined “open, and enjoy the progression” series of dates not more than six months apart (three month intervals are suggested for this particular beer). That way, you can enjoy and appreciate the cellaring process in addition to the beer itself.

Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial IPA
22oz bottles, on draft, and a limited number of 3L bottles.
Vital stats: 10.8% abv, 100 IBUs
Malt Bill: Pale Malt, Cara-Bohemian, Carafa III Special, and Chocolate Malt
Hops Bill: Columbus (bittering), Citra (flavor/aroma). Dry-hopped with Nelson Sauvin and Pacific Jade.
Availability: Starting August 15th in all states Stone is distributed, except NH

Crime + Punishment

Greg Koch

Hey folks. Greg here with a short word. Question actually. Maybe even

As in, Q: “What do you call it when Greg takes his entire harvest
bounty of chili pepper varieties from his own personal garden, take half of
them and add to…and thus ruin…an otherwise beautiful oak barrel of
Double Dry Hopped Lukcy Basartd Ale?”

A: “A Crime!”

And the second riddle is…

Q: “What do you call it when you take a sip of oak barrel aged Double
Bastard Ale that’s had the other half of the bounty of chili peppers from
Greg’s home garden ceremoniously added in, resulting in a punishingly
intense level of hot pepper heat to an already overly intense beer whose
elevated alcohol level caused a significant transference of pain-inducing

A: “Punishment.”

And there you have it. As with many riddles boys and girls, this one
carries a cautionary tale. Sure, perhaps I should have written this all out
Brothers Grimm style, but I don’t have time for fairy tales or parables.
You got two riddles, and that’s all you’re going to get. Unless you manage
to find yourself in the same room with a tapping of the above ultra
rarities, in which case you’ll get Crime & Punishment.

Not to mention regret.

Hmmm…I like it. “Regret.” Now THERE’S a great name for a beer. Maybe
something with garlic and mugwort….



P.S. Both of these beers will be on-tap at Stone Winter Storm, our annual
self-tribute/tap takeover at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, which
kicks off on Feb. 6th. The details and full beer list can be found online.

“Odd Beers for Odd Years”: Take 2

Greg Koch

When we’re right, we’re right.  And this, we suppose, is a chance to own up to that.  It’s sort of a “They told us so…but we didn’t listen now did we?”

It wasn’t broken.  Yet, being who we are, we couldn’t resist the urge to tinker.  To mess with the “well enough” and not leave it alone.  We won’t apologize, anymore than a lion would apologize for downing a gazelle, an orca would apologize for munching a seal, or marauding space aliens would apologize for enslaving humanity as dinner.

You see, sometimes we don’t notice just how right we are.  But you’ve reminded us.  And we got the message.  Hard.

We recently announced the “Odd Beers for Odd Years” idea that explained the concept that in the “odd year” of 2011 we were going to release so-called “odd” versions of Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine and Stone Imperial Russian Stout.  We thought it was a pretty cool and fun idea.

Many of you thought that idea was only slightly preferable to humanity being enslaved by space aliens.  Some even wondered if that’s what had actually already happened to us at Stone (to which we say “No, that’s not happened,” but truth be told how can you really know.)

So then, what are we so right about?  Well, it turns out we were already right…before the Odd Years idea.  Cue: About face.  Sorta.

Odd Beers for Odd Years: Take 2 from stonebrew on Vimeo.

To recap: we’ve now decided to go ahead and release the – dare we say –  ‘classic’ versions of Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine (the OG OG?) and Stone Imperial Russian Stout.  And, just so we don’t have to embarrass our moms with a complete retraction, we’re ALSO going to release the “Odd Beers” versions, starting with the Stone Old Guardian Belgo Barley Wine in February 2011.

Yes, we realize that some conspiracy-theorist is going to think we had this idea all along and that we were only just whipping everyone into a frenzy to get attention (as if we could do that more than some folks do it to themselves).  That’s OK, they’re probably also the ones that think we’ve been commandeered by space aliens.

On Deck for 2011: “Odd Beers for Odd Years”

Jacob McKean

As a Stone fan, you undoubtedly know and love two of our long-standing special releases: Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine and Stone Imperial Russian Stout. We love them too. We think they’re great beers and both receive sterling marks from BeerAdvocate and RateBeer, the two most prominent craft beer rating websites.

But we’ve been making Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine since 1998 and Stone Imperial Russian Stout since 2000, and if you subtract those numbers from 2010, you arrive at a long time to be making the same beers. So being the dynamic young go-getters that we are, we felt like mixing things up a bit.

Starting in 2011, we’re kicking-off a program we’ve dubbed “Odd Beers for Odd Years.” Translation: in odd numbered years (2011, 2013, 2015, etc…) we’ll be releasing new variations on Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine and Stone Imperial Russian Stout in place of the classic version. A radical redirection for two reliably wonderful beers, we know, but we think you’ll be pleased with the results.

Hell, we are.

The first Odd Beer for Odd Years release will be rocking your collective world in the form of Stone Old Guardian Belgo Barley Wine, which hits shelves in February.


2010 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine...the last "classic" bottling until 2012

While brewing up 2010 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine, Stone Brewing Head Brewer Mitch Steele redirected 30 barrels of the batch into a fermenter containing the Belgian yeast we love from Stone Cali-Belgique IPA. After 8 weeks of comingling, bubbling, and resting, the results were ready for sampling. And sample we did. The English/American/Belgian chimera was so delicious, we quickly decided to make it the “Odd Beer” version of Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine for 2011.


And 2010 Stone Imperial Russian Stout...set to be odd-ified in 2011.

So entranced were we with the effects of Belgian yeast on our barley wine, that we chose to go in a similar-ish direction for 2011 Stone Belgo Imperial Russian Stout. It will be an approximately 50/50 blend of classic Stone Imperial Russian Stout and the Belgo-ized version, with a hint of star anise added during the brewing process. You can expect to see this blendo-rific version Stone Imperial Russian Stout on shelves in April of 2011.