Your 2012 Itinerary, According to Stone

A few weeks ago we took a walk down memory lane, recounting for you the many accolades and accomplishments Stone achieved over the course of 2011.  We are not content, however, to rest on our laurels.  We’ve now turned our sights to the future and all the amazing things we have in store for you in 2012.  Dates have been set for our annual special releases as well as all of our epic beer fests.  So read on and prepare yourself for a whole year of beer-tastic-ness.  Ale-mazement?  You get the idea…

Stone New Year’s Eve Celebration

Jacob McKean

Ah, New Year’s Eve. For most people it’s a night filled with promise that typically ends in bleary disappointment. That tingle of excitement — born of a bold sense that this year will be the year of magical change — dies an early death as they sit on the couch at a friend of a friend’s, plastic red cup filled with…something, anything…TV excitedly blaring a tired staged celebration from somewhere cold.

That's an actual red carpet. So posh.

But you’re not most people. And fortunately for you, we’ve got the cure for the common party: the Stone 2011 New Year’s Eve Celebration. Let’s examine exactly how & why this will be an absolutely splendid event:

* Lively Music. San Diego’s premier funk and R&B band, The Styletones, will be playing live on the Restaurant Dance Floor. In the brewhouse, we’ll have 3 DJs spinning for a jumpin’ dance party.

* Fantastic Food. Two Sushi and Seafood Lounges featuring swanky tunes, sushi rolls, nigiri, crab claws, oysters and more; lavish Buffet Stations throughout the party; a Mac ‘n Beer Cheese bar; generous carving station; amazing desserts, including Cherries Jubilee, housemade chocolate truffles, cheesecakes, and the list goes on.

* Awesome Drinks. A fantastic selection of complimentary craft beer, wine, cider, and sodas pouring all night long. Plus three special pours of rare and vintage Stone beers (Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels anyone?) You also get a commemorative Stone Brewing New Year’s glass to keep.

* Select Cigars. Enjoy the beautiful evening with a cigar in hand on our Patio Cigar Bar (bring your own, or choose from cigars available for purchase; everywhere else is smoke-free.)

* Beautiful You! Since you’re above average, both in personality and taste (and looks too, but then we think everyone with exceptional personality and taste is beautiful), you are critical to this party. Luckily, since like attracts like, you’ll find an evening filled with exceptional people like you. The dullards stayed home. Thankfully.

Lights, bands, DJs, the whole sha-bang

Sound pretty sweet, huh? Well it is. We know this because we did it last year, and it was spectacular. But we’ve made it even better by ironing out all the kinks and adding a bunch of great new features.

Our last New Year’s Eve Celebration sold out, so if you want to enjoy this outstandingly awesome party, it behooves you to make your plans sooner rather than later. Remember, for it to be the best time possible, you’re required!

See you there.

* Wanna go over the top? Get your own private table for the evening, personal hand and foot beverage server, and a bottle of champagne for $250. For details and reservations, send an e-mail to “chuck dot samuelson at stonebrew dot com”.

2011 San Diego Beer Week, Part 2

Jacob McKean

San Diego Beer Week: Nov. 4-13th

Last week we presented you with the 11 amazing San Diego Beer Week events we’ll be hosting at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens. This week, we venture a bit further afield, out into the broad, welcoming arms of America’s Finest City for 26(!) devastatingly awesome events (more to come — we’re shooting for an even 30.)

An exciting point about this year: virtually all of the events we have planned will feature an actual, live member of Team Stone on hand to answer your questions, raise a toast, and/or adorn your body with their signature.

A startlingly large number of these events will be attended by Stone CEO & Co-Founder Greg Koch, who has apparently obtained a hoverboard or Star Trek-style transporter; without such a device, I struggle to explain how he will be able to make so many appearances. So if you’d like to meet Greg, this is your chance because he will probably go into some kind of anti-social hibernation mode after it’s all over.

Now, on to the events. They’re helpfully listed on the right side of our SDBW website in a super handy Google calendar, allowing you to import them directly into your own Google calendar if you happen to use one. As you can see, there are a ridiculous number of events per day, but if you manage to attend all of them, Greg will reward you by covering every inch of your exposed skin (…or at least the back of your hand) in #gregface temporary tattoos. You wouldn’t want to miss that opportunity. Greg’s a bit of a shrinking violet, so it helps him come out of his shell.

As far as strategy goes, we recommend reading through all of these listings and determining which reservations/tickets you want to jump on. These events are popular and tend to fill up. Missing one means you’ll have to carry the pain of your failure-to-act until next year, so don’t let work or family or probation check-ins interfere with your browsing. It’s San Diego Beer Week we’re talking about here.

2011 San Diego Beer Week, Part 1

Jacob McKean

Not only is San Diego Beer Week simply too much beer week for a single blog post, it’s too much beer week for a single week, thus stretching to a slightly more comfortable but still utterly intense 10 days from November 4th-13th, 2011.

And in those 10 days, we will quite literally be taking it to 11 by hosting 11 incredible events at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens. And we’re just talking about events actually at Stone; events around town are coming up in the next blog post.

Returning gems include:

Rare Beer Breakfast, Friday, November 4th, 9:00 AM-12:00 PM. Our kick-off event for San Diego Beer Week returns for a second year with decadence galore. Amazing food, hard to find beers and live music. (Read: Lotsa tasty bacon. Lotsa tasty rare beers. Lotsa tasty live tunes.)

Beer U: Intro to San Diego Craft Beer, Monday, November 7th, 7:00 – 9:00 PM. Stone’s beloved blabbermouth, Ken Wright, tells the story behind San Diego’s brewing success while offering samples of some of the brews that put San Diego on the map, along side some up-and-coming greats.

Meet the Brewer: Firestone Walker, Friday, November 11th, 6:00 PM. Rub elbows with some of the award-winning crew from Firestone Walker Brewing Co. They’re visiting us to continue their 15th Anniversary celebration and will be bringing extra special beers with them, including just-released barrel-aged Firestone Walker 15.

That is, as they say, just the beginning. We’ve added a slew of new events to our roster, which will surely blow the minds of all those brave enough to attend. Here are some of these newfangled wonders:

Bitter Sunday, November 5th, 11am – 11pm & Saison Saturday, November 12th, 11am – 11pm. These spectacular all day celebrations will feature 24+ world-class IPAs and 24+ Saisons on-tap, respectively. A brilliant way to taste your way through these classic styles.

Master Pairings Dinner: Stephen Beaumont vs. “Dr.” Bill, Tuesday, November 8th, 6pm – 9pm. Our renowned beer expert “Dr.” Bill Sysak (@BistroBeer) goes head-to-head with acclaimed beer writer and notorious Canadian Stephen Beaumont (@BeaumontDrinks) in a showdown of beer pairing excellence. The diners will vote on the superior pairing for each course of this decadent feast. The loser will drop down to one knee and bestow the winner in this high-ego matchup of the year! (Make sure to bring your cameras kids!)

Stone Pour It Black Festival, Sunday, November 13th, 10am – 4pm. Joining the ranks of Oakquinox and Sour Fest in our panoply of epic beer festivals, the first annual Pour It Black festival will dance freely among porters, stouts, schwartzbiers, and Black IPAs from around the world mixed lavishly with modifiers ranging from Belgian, Double, Imperial and Barrel-Aged. If you’ve been to our other festivals, you know the level “Dr.” Bill brings to the taps, so no further hyperbole is necessary.

Next up: San Diego Beer Week events around America’s Finest City.

Community Supported Agriculture: Stone’s Next Frontier

Jacob McKean

NOTE: You must place your order at the Stone Company Store-Escondido at least one week in advance of your first pick-up date.

As loyal blog readers, you are undoubtedly aware of Stone Farms, our 18-acres of beautiful farmland and oak-covered hills located just 8 miles north of our brewery in Escondido.

While only about 4.5 acres of the property are actually farmable, this marvelous plot of land has thus far yielded a gorgeous array of vegetables for the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens and the Stone Farms stand, which is set up right in front of the brewery every Friday from 2:30-6pm. The biodynamically managed farm has been producing a bounty of heirloom vegetables, whose remarkably vivid flavors and bright colors have been exceedingly popular with farm stand regulars.

An example of a Stone Farms C.S.A. box

Now we’re taking it up a notch and allowing folks to buy into a Community Supported Agriculture (C.S.A. AKA “veggie box”) program. Here’s how it works:

  1. Every Thursday, the Stone Farms crew harvests veggies to be sold the next day. From the earth to your plate in under 24 hours!
  2. The crew puts together boxes featuring a variety of these amazing veggies, generally 8-12 different items per box along with a loaf of fresh baked bread from our kitchen…about enough for 2 hungry people for a week.
  3. You, the organic vegetable loving craft beer drinker, come to our farm stand on Fridays from 2:30-6pm and pick up your box every week for 10 weeks. The boxes cost $25 each.
  4. While you’re here, you might decide to get your growler filled with something spectacular, like Stone Ruination IPA Dry Hopped with Citra & Centennial Hops, for example. A calendar of our special Friday growler fills can be found here. These typically cost between $7-$14 depending on the size of the growler.
  5. You return home stocked with some of the freshest veggies & beer imaginable. You rejoice, hard.
  6. Wash, rinse, repeat.

How do you get to take advantage of this staggeringly amazing opportunity, you ask? By buying your C.S.A. share at the Stone Company Store—Escondido. It’s that simple. Available while supplies last.

Stone New Year’s Countdown Keg A.K.A. The Doomsday Keg of Radness

Here at Stone, I get the privilege of working on some really fun, random projects. Greg will turn to me and say something like, “What if we put a 17 foot tall gargoyle into the inside wall of the Bistro?” From there, I figure out how to make it work and pull the resources and people together to make it happen.

Well, another opportunity to have some fun recently presented itself when we decided to throw our most lavish party ever for New Year’s Eve. With a swing band, jazz band, laser light show and DJ all performing at the same time–along with the amazing beer and food–we needed a midnight countdown that could be monumentous enough to equal the festivities.

I thought about using projectors to play a countdown video, but that just seemed boring. The ceremony of the ball dropping has become synonymous with New Year’s Eve, but we wouldn’t just copy that–we had to do this Stone style. And that’s how we arrived at the Stone New Year’s Countdown Keg. Here’s how it all went down:

The Keg
First, we found a defective keg to play the leading role in this bit of theatrical awesomeness. Our Maintenance crew then plasma cut the top off and drilled out the keg for lighting effects.

The Computer and Monitor
This is the part that really ties together the whole countdown. There’s an old Macbook laptop inside the keg that is hooked up to a 24″ monitor that is mounted to the front of the keg. This displays a countdown timer that our Web Programmer, Bill Sobieski, wrote that displays hours, minutes, and seconds. At 10 minutes to midnight, an iCal event will open a video that one of our graphic Artists, Sergio Salgado, is working on.

The Lighting
I opted for all LED lights. There were some cheaper non-LED effects that may have been brighter, but the space constraints within the keg and the temperature were my first concern.

So here’s what I went with: four motion LED tube lights on the sides to give it the feeling of motion, 3 LED strobe lights inside that flash through the holes in the keg, and a color light show that comes out a hole in the bottom of the keg where we mounted a Moonflower LED light (watch the video to see these in action.) The last effect is really pronounced by the fog machine that we’ll have on the floor, which the beams of colored light seem solid. Each lighting effect is controlled remotely by an RF transmitter.

The Drop
This whole thing is going to be suspended 20 feet above the fountain in the middle of the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens. We’ll be attaching this to an electric winch so our Brewmaster, Steve Wagner, can lower the keg at midnight while Stone CEO and Co-Founder Greg Koch MC’s the countdown.

So there you have it. We had some fun yesterday doing a test run in the office and making a video of it. I’m really happy with how it turned out and look forward to seeing it in action on New Year’s. See you there!

Meatless Mondays Help You Eat Like A Caveman

Greg Koch

If you’ve ever visited the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, you know that we’re pretty obsessed with where our food comes from. We only use in-season, locally, regionally, and organically grown produce. We serve grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and we’re certified by the World Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals as a restaurant that serves humanely-raised meat and dairy products.

So we’re pretty satisfied with the degree to which the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens lives up to our ideals. However, there’s always room for improvement, especially when it comes to health and environmental sustainability, so we’ve decided to take things up a notch by participating in the international movement called Meatless Mondays.

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Deep Fried Avocado Tacos with Arrogant Bastard Ale batter, one of the many insanely delicious Meatless Monday's menu items at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens

Don’t panic. It’s voluntary. Think of us as enablers.

As in, we’re going to enable you to live a little longer. A little healthier. And benefit our planet in the process.

You see, our society has a great challenge upon us. Over the last few generations, America has modified its eating habits at the hands of the mass marketers (we’ve collectively doubled per capita meat consumption has increased by 65% since 1950 in the U.S.) If you thought YOU were in control, looking at the big picture we can see that has not been the case at all. Instead, we have been doing what we’ve been told, and we’ve been fooled into thinking it was our own choice. We have been told to bite down, and Americans have said “How big a bite?”

We’ve been programmed. The very fact that you may be feeling that the above does NOT apply to you—“I exhibit free will. No one tells me what to eat!”—is the first sign that they have you. They don’t want you to know about, or to personally admit to, the manipulation. Face it, we’ve been owned. They told us to eat meat and processed foods. More meat. More processed foods. And we listened. We now eat more meat than nearly every other society on the planet. And our health problems have skyrocketed right along with it.

However, we know you are not a mindless automaton, and we refuse to treat you like one.

“But I eat only eat locally raised meat,” you say. Well that’s great, certainly a step in the right direction (a step we ourselves have taken.) But the distance food travels only accounts for 11% of its carbon footprint.

The fact is, meat is far more energy, water, and land intensive than vegetables.  Conveniently, this means that reducing your meat intake is the easiest, healthiest, and cheapest way to minimize your personal impact on the environment.

It’s time that we throw off these chains of oppression.  It’s time that we say “No more…you can no longer treat me like a gullible, uninformed serf of the marketers.” It’s time we say, “I take my health, my happiness, my responsibility to society, my life into my own hands.”  It’s time we celebrate the vegetable!  And to that, we offer you the opportunity to celebrate Meatless Mondays with us as a step towards a brighter future!

Caution: if you howl in protest as a devout meat-eater over the lack of choice, you’re marking yourself as someone who’s not paying attention. You see, you are not being forced to eat meatless on Mondays. You still have the choice to request meat dishes if you so desire.

However, if you’d like to be true to our mutual heritage and eat like a caveman, then you’ll embrace a day without meat, as cavemen ate far less meat then we do!

Lastly, in the unlikely event anyone has the idea that this is a ploy by us to make more money, please note that our vegetarian items are generally less profitable. That’s OK, we’ll survive…and likely so will you!

EDIT: Here’s a link to the Meatless Mondays menu at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens. Or, download a PDF of the menu.

Oakquinox: Celestial Indeed

Jacob McKean

When Dr. Bill tells you he’s assembling a legendary collection of wood-aged beers for a festival in our gardens, it’s best to take him seriously. After the veritable tsunami of awesomeness that was Stone Oakquinox, it’s hard to imagine why anyone wouldn’t.

The 112 beers on-tap and in bottles represented a mighty collection of wood-aged deliciousness. With so many highlights on the beer list, some Oakquinoxers ended up sporting a deer-in-headlights look, their faces frozen in a rictus of pleasure at the site of so many rare and sought-after beers.

Hey! Down in front!

Oakquinoxers proved to be a lively bunch

Fortunately, the shock wore off quickly, and all in attendance began the serious business of sampling these oaky beasts. Based on the exuberant pictures, thunderous toasts, and vocal praise, we feel confident concluding that Oakquinox was a tremendous success, one that will most certainly be repeated next year.

Your hankering for beer festivals needn’t go unfulfilled for an entire year, however. On July 18th, Stone Sour Fest will be taking over the gardens in similar fashion, featuring mouth-puckering, horizon-expanding brews made with wild yeasts and bacteria (if you’ve never tried sour beers, they’re far more appetizing than that description may sound.)

The forecast for Oakquinox was sunny and beautiful, with a 100% chance of wood-aged beer

The forecast for Oakquinox was sunny and beautiful, with a 100% chance of wood-aged beer

In addition to Stone Winter Storm, Oakquinox, and Sour Fest, next year Dr. Bill will  introduce a 4th festival, the theme of which is top secret. That’s right folks, quarterly beer festivals at Stone. Set your tasters to “Yum!”

StoneWall Ale: A Flavor Riot for a Good Cause

Jacob McKean

If you’ve been paying close attention to the beer line-up for the upcoming bonanza that is 2010 Stone Winter Storm, you may have spotted StoneWall Ale on the list—a sighting so rare, some might call it the Jackalope of the craft beer world.

But what is StoneWall Ale, you mumble feebly, humiliated by your ignorance of this arcane bit of Stone history? Were you truly a Level-7 Beer Geek, you’d know that it’s the strongest beer Stone has ever brewed, a 12.2% American Barley Wine that tastes like it was milked from a dragon’s udder…if that dragon ate nothing but malt, hops, hop extract, and Belgian candi sugar…and then let the mix ferment inside its fiery gut almost 4 years ago.

stonewall

The rare StoneWall Ale in all its inscribed glory

OK, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but the beer is indeed incredible and very hard to come by. Ironically, that’s only the second coolest thing about it. The coolest thing is that it was part of a charity fundraiser we held that raised over $85,000 for local charities.

It worked like this: way back in 2005 when we were building our brewery and gardens in Escondido, we asked our fans to sponsor stones in the wall that connects the inside of our brewery to the patio and bar outside. 472 people stepped up and put their stones in the wall, and aside from the knowledge that they were supporting important local charities, they received bottles of the specially-brewed StoneWall Ale, the bottles of which bore the names of the generous donors.

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The StoneWall during construction of the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens

That was the one and only time we brewed the mythic StoneWall Ale, but we stashed some in our archives to break out on special occasions, like Winter Storm. In keeping with the spirit in which it was brewed, 100% of the proceeds still go to charity. So go ahead and drink this sweet nectar, knowing that you’re lending a hand while carving yet another notch in your beer geek belt.

"Master Pairings: Beer & Desserts" Goes Bananas

Jacob McKean

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

Master Pairings: Beer and Desserts 1:19:10 - 03

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

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

Master Pairings: Beer and Desserts 1:19:10 - 13

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

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

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

Master Pairings: Beer and Desserts 1:19:10 - 02

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

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

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