Hey, Chicago. The Least You Can Do is Send Us a Postcard.

Jacob McKean

The marketing manual for sheeple herding says that we’re supposed to engage you by soliciting user-generated content with catchy challenges like this: “Hey die-hard Stone fans! Show you’re the Ultimate Stone Head by posting sweet pics of you and your BFFs at Stone Beer Week-Chicago events on our Facebook fan page! And don’t forget to Twitterize us with #StoneWeek hash-tags! Win a Frisbee!”

But we know you’re a whole lot smarter than that.

In all seriousness, since we won’t be sending everyone from the brewery to Chicago this week, we’d like to get some vicarious pleasure from the absurdly decadent events we’ve been working so hard to plan, which is why we’re asking you, for real, to post those Facebook pics and Tweets about Stone Beer Week-Chicago.

So do us that favor, will ya?

windycity_text

Now let’s back up a bit. As a supremely plugged-in Stone fanatic, you are undoubtedly aware that our exceptionally beautiful beers will finally be available in Chicago starting April 1st. Yes, the wait has been long and arduous for the legions of bastardly disciples in the Second City, but we aim to make up for lost time—in a hurry.

To that end, we have planned an epic week-long celebration of all things Stone, entitled Stone Beer Week-Chicago*. A veritable carnival of Arrogance will introduce us to Chicago with proper gusto from April 1st-9th.

This extravagant series of soirees will see us taking over an entire grocery store, hosting 30 taps at a single bar, offering an ultra-rare tasting of Stone Vertical Epic Ales with Greg Koch himself, grilling up Stone Smoked Porter sausages, presenting incredibly tasty barrel-aged versions of our most ambitious beers, pairing exceptional food with fine vintages from our past, and the list goes on and on…

Do those kinds of events sound enticing to you? What if I told you that the events mentioned above represent a mere fraction of the 34, yes thirty-four, events planned for Stone Beer Week-Chicago? And what if I added that the remaining Stone events will be every bit as awesome, such that Stone Beer Week-Chicago will feature a concentration of Stone awesomeness that the world has never seen before?

That would be exciting for you, wouldn’t it? Well that’s great, because while I’m stuck here in sunny San Diego, you’ll be cabbing/bussing/train-ing/shuttling/walking from one jaw-dropping Stone event to another, having the time of your life sipping some of the sweetest nectars this brewery has ever made.

So enjoy yourselves Chicagoans. You’ve earned it. Just don’t forget to send us a postcard, mmmmmk?

*Best said in a Big Announcer Voice with lots of reverb.

2010 March Madness AHA Rally & Homebrew Competition Crowns a Champion

Jacob McKean

Saturday marked our annual March Madness AHA Rally & Homebrew Competition, a celebration of Southern California homebrewers and their wildly inventive creations. The goal of the event is threefold: 1) to build awareness of the American Homebrewers Association, 2) to select a winning homebrew to be brewed on Stone’s beautiful, ultra-shiny brewing system (if we do say so ourselves), and 3) to have an incredibly good time while sampling a marvelous assortment of homebrews.

OK, it’s mostly #3.

Needless to say, the event was a rousing success on all three counts. The drama, however, emanated from the homebrew competition. Although friendly, it is a hotly contested taste-off of 23 beers submitted by Southern California homebrewers confident enough to believe their beer might be worthy of being brewed at Stone.

The homebrews readying themselves for competition

The homebrews readying themselves for competition

Yours truly got the opportunity to sit on the judging panel and sample the top-5 beers, as voted on by the assembled homebrewers. Each beer was a marvelous tribute to the originality and craftsmanship of Southern California homebrewers. In fact, the exceedingly delicious beers created quite the quandary for the judges, as we spent enough time debating the relative merits of the beers to draw some rumbles from the anxious homebrewers.

After over an hour of intense debate and vigorous tasting (yes, we take the task quite seriously), the judges chose “West Coast Bitter” brewed by Kelsey McNair of QUAFF, a truly distinctive and regionally appropriate take on the Bitter-style. Though it was positively stuffed with hops, “West Coast Bitter” was remarkably quaffable, and at only 4.3% ABV, a phenomenal session beer for the die-hard hop zealot.

Kelsey McNair is joined in celebration by Chris, Greg, Dr. Bill, Mitch, and Gary Glass, AHA Director

Kelsey McNair is joined in celebration by Chris, Greg, Dr. Bill, Mitch, and Gary Glass, AHA Director

So raise a toast to Kelsey and get your brew kettles ready for next year. You could be the next homebrewing rockstar…

Check out more pictures from the Rally here:

Beer vs. Wine Dinner — And the Winner is…

Greg Koch
Thought you might like to learn about the results of the recent epic “Beer vs. Wine Dinner” at the Rancho Bernardo Inn’s highly regarded “El Bizcocho” restaurant.

First, a short recap of what the dinner was all about….

  • The recent October 16, 2009 dinner was the third in a 3-year series.
  • The premise is simple: A multi-course fine-dining dinner served with a specially selected wine to go with each course, as well as a specially selected beer. All the attendees of the dinner get a specially prepared card to mark their preference for each course – either the beer or the wine. At the end of the dinner, the results are tallied and the one winner is announced based on the total number of votes for the evening.  “Wine” was represented by Sommelier and Certified Wine Educator Barry Wiss of Napa’s Trinchero Family Estates.  Barry has flown down from Napa each year to participate in the challenge.  Neither I nor Barry had any say in the creation of the menu — each year it was presented to us with a “Gentlemen, here you go…do your best!”
  • In October 2007, “Beer” won. However, it was very close. Beer took three of the courses and wine won three. Yet, beer edged out with more total votes during the evening. This dinner was captured on film and an entertaining documentary was created by our friends at Redtail Media (the same team that created the viral I Am A Craft Brewer video with me). The “Beer vs. Wine 2007″ doc is on the promotional Stone DVD. If you haven’t found the opportunity to view it yet, grab the DVD and watch it. I think you’ll find it quite well done and entertaining. If you haven’t gotten one yet, it can be obtained at the Stone Store either at the brewery, or online here.
  • This clip is a preview of the beginning of that 2007 documentary:
    And this 30-second clip featuring Chef Gavin Kaysen is from the middle of the 2007 documentary:
  • In October 2008, “Wine” won. Again, very close with three courses to three courses, with wine winning more total votes in the evening. Again, documentary footage was shot, but it has not yet been edited. This 30-second promo spot was created. Hell, even knowing the results doesn’t stop you from wanting to see the whole match after watching this punchy spot:
  • Thus, Friday, October 16th, 2009’s dinner was going to determine the “best two out of three” winner. The rubber match. The champion. Once more, our documentary film making friends at Redtail Media captured the action. While it may take several months for them to get the editing done, both the 2008 dinner and Friday’s dinner will be edited into episodes.

OK, so without further ado, I’ll now reveal the results: BEER! Yes, beer won the night. This time, it was so close that they had to recount…twice. Turned out WAY too close for comfort for me, but ultimately it was indeed Beer that won…and just by ONE vote.

This is a big deal. The premise of the dinner–the motivation for me to do it–was to prove a point. I intentionally picked a wine-centric fine dining chef-driven restaurant for the Beer vs. Wine Dinner. I wanted to show that even in this “hostile territory” the ability of great craft beer to pair amazingly with great food was equal, or better, to that of fine wine. And we succeeded. We ALL succeeded.  This includes YOU because we are all a very important part of the craft brewing movement and we are collectively showing the world how wonderful and amazing the world of great craft beer can be.

I’d like to give special thanks to our Head Brewer, Mitch Steele, as he helped pick the selections with me for the beer pairings for each of the dinners.

You can view the grueling tasting and selection process in these two “Greg’s vBlog” clips (you’ll see that we should get a Medal of Valor or something for our willingness to self-sacrifice for the betterment of craft beer):

This year, we were further aided by the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens’ Beverage Coordinator, Dr. Bill, and his educated and insightful palate in the decision making process. Ultimately, we succeeded in our mission. We demonstrated that craft beer is to be reckoned with in the culinary world. You and I already knew that, and now even more people will have the opportunity to know it!

Here’s a picture that was shot just moments after the results were announced and I was given the trophy. Standing next to me is Barry Wiss of Trinchero Family Estates, the Napa-based Sommelier challenger who flew down for the event:

All in all we all had a terrific time.  I gotta hand it to the wine guys, they were consummate good sports.  Barry didn’t skip a beat in offering a genuine “Congrats!” when the voting results were announced, and even went on to tell me that the Beer vs. Wine dinners had really opened his eyes to the depth and complexity in the world of great beer.  Barry’s compatriot at Trinchero, Chris Siconolfi, emailed me the next day writing “Thank you for the competition and the partnership last night, it is like we all agreed, at the end of the day it is about opening the consumers’ eyes and educating on the fact that beer and wine pair amazingly well with food.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Stay tuned as the Beer vs. Wine saga WILL continue.  Barry and Chris have invited me to conduct a soon-to-be-scheduled Beer vs. Wine Dinner in the heart of Napa wine country.  I can’t wait.  And I’m gonna go in swinging.

Hey, just ’cause we’re all friendly and everything, and we are, doesn’t mean I’m going to pull any punches.  When I go, I’ll go to win!

Winner Greg Koch with Executive Chef Judd Canepari and Barry Wiss of Napa's Trinchero Family Estates

Winner Greg Koch with Executive Chef Judd Canepari and Barry Wiss of Napa's Trinchero Family Estates

Cheers,
Greg Koch, CEO & co-founder

Stone Brewing Co.

San Diego Beer Week is Coming November 6-15

Matt Steele
This month’s issue of Men’s Journal names San Diego the “beer capital of the U.S.” We San Diegans have been saying that for years, but it’s nice to see other slightly less biased sources come to the same conclusion. And the folks over at Men’s Journal aren’t the only ones praising San Diego as a barley and hops mecca. Food & Wine Magazine calls San Diego County “one of the most dynamic beer scenes in America and arguably the world,” and Sunset Magazine says “…when it comes to beer, all roads lead to San Diego.” While there are countless craft beer innovators in the great state of California and the entire nation, we agree that our little palm tree-bedizened county has earned a special place in the craft beer movement. That’s why we, along with our San Diego craft beer brethren, decided to start San Diego Beer Week.
San Diego Beer WeekSan Diego Beer Week (SDBW) is a ten-day, county-wide festival from November 6-15th. We’ll be hosting special events here at Stone every day during SDBW, and our own “Grandfather of Beer Geeks” and infamous beer hoarder, Dr. Bill, has put together a phenomenal lineup of events so far. More will be announced in the coming weeks, but check out what’s planned so far:

Nov. 6 – Ten Year Lineup of Stone Imperial Russian Stout
Nov. 7 –
Incredibly awesome party yet to be announced
Nov. 8 – Ultimate Beer & Chocolate Pairing
Nov. 9 – The Tomme Arthur Experience
Nov. 10 – Allagash/Russian River “Dual Not Duel” Beer Dinner with Vinnie Cilurzo & Rob Tod
Nov. 11 – Patrick Rue of The Bruery Meet the Brewer Night
Nov. 11 – Beer U: Craft Beer Appreciation w/special guest Patrick Rue
Nov. 12 –
Wild and crazy bash still to be determined
Nov. 13 –
Kick-ass event still in the works
Nov. 14 –
Craft beer blowout yet to be finalized
Nov. 15 – Belgian Beer & Cheese Pairing

We’re not the only ones pulling out all the stops. Our craft beer compatriots are all upping the ante to ensure that SDBW is crammed full of spectacular events that will make even the most seasoned beer geeks squeal with joy. Stay tuned as more events take shape, and be sure to check the SDBW website for new developments and an ever-growing schedule of events.

The man behind our SDBW events, Dr. Bill

The man behind our SDBW events, Dr. Bill

With all the extraordinary brewing talent and craft beer fanaticism in this town, SDBW is destined to be one of the best beer weeks around. Sound a little too Arrogant for our first time? Well, San Diego didn’t rise to craft beer prominence by remaining meekly and humbly in the background.

Quite the opposite.

-Matt Steele

The Big Green Blog Post


When I was a kid, my mom had an old green Volkswagen bus, you know, similar to the one in Scooby-Doo; the iconic hippie-mobile. At the time I was really embarrassed by my mother’s eccentric taste in automobiles, but looking back it made perfect sense. The beads in her hair, the penchant for woodworking, and the green VW bus all pointed to one thing—she was a TOTAL hippie. Naturally, hippies were the first thing that came to my mind when I saw The Big Green Bus pull into our parking lot here at Stone on Wednesday afternoon, leaving a pungent aroma of hash browns in its wake.

The Big Green Bus

The Big Green Bus

The Big Green Bus is a full-size bus (1989 MCI Motorcoach, to be exact) remodeled by 15 Dartmouth students to be as sustainable and energy efficient as possible. The students are taking their green labor of love on a summer-long cross-country tour to raise awareness about sustainability and energy-efficient practices. And it smells like hash browns because it runs on 100% recycled vegetable oil, not because the students have a deep affinity for breakfast fare.

At first glance, The Big Green Bus looks like a glorified version of my mom’s old green VW bus, but that couldn’t be father from the truth. “We spend a lot of time convincing people that we’re not gross-smelling hippies,” said one student, “most of us showered this morning.” The Big Green Bus is much more than a meagerly-funded flower-child mobile with wicked green graphics. Along with running on biodiesel, the bus is also a mobile showcase of environmental conservation. Everything inside, from the low-energy plasma TV to the recycled bamboo flooring, is the epitome of energy efficiency.

Anna, a Dartmouth sophomore from the Big Green Bus, being interviewed for the local news. The Big Green Bus is greeted by cameras wherever they go.

Anna, a Dartmouth sophomore from the Big Green Bus, spreading her message on the local news. The Big Green Bus is greeted by cameras wherever they go.

If a summer-long tour on The Big Green Bus sounds like a great time, think again. These kids work hard. According to Kerry, it’s about 90% work and 10% play. Not exactly your quintessential summer of love. Everywhere the students go they’re greeted by news cameras and general media hubbub, and Stone was no exception. Escondido Mayor Lori Pfeiler, the folks at the California Center for Sustainable Energy, and a bevy of local media joined us in welcoming them to Stone on Wednesday afternoon.

So why did they come to Stone? Because they were hungry, of course (I guess word got out that our Bistro serves locally-grown, organic food). They also enjoyed a tour of the brewery and learned a bit about our solar array and our other efforts to operate sustainably. But most importantly, they came to fill up their tank with our Bistro’s used vegetable oil—the same stuff that our Lead Brewer John Egan uses to power his truck.

Mayor Lori Pfeiler and the folks from the California Center for Sustainable Energy joined us in welcoming the hard-working crew of 15 Dartmouth students

Mayor Lori Pfeiler and the folks from the California Center for Sustainable Energy joined us in welcoming the 15 hard-working Dartmouth students.

We’re stoked The Big Green Bus chose to stop and share a part of their journey with us, and we’re glad we could help spread their message. If you spy a lumbering green bus speeding down the highway smelling like Sunday brunch at iHop, give those hard-working Dartmouth students a honk in support. They deserve it.

-Matt Steele

Beer Wars!


If you keep your finger on the pulse of the craft beer industry, then you may have caught wind that the upcoming documentary, Beer Wars, will be simulcast live from Royce Hall on UCLA’s campus to 440 theaters across America on April 16th. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, check it out below. Also take a peek at a short clip from the documentary featuring our co-founder & CEO, Greg Koch, waxing poetic about our early history, our philosophy and our approach to the idea of “competition.” As part of the simulcast, Ben Stein will moderate a live panel discussion immediately after the movie with some of the leading independent brewers and experts from the film, including Todd Alstrom, Sam Calagione, Charlie Papazian, and  our very own Greg Koch.


Beer Wars Movie Trailer from Beer Wars on Vimeo.

We’re getting a Team Stone bus together to take a trip up to UCLA for the simulcast, and we’d love for you to join us. Unfortunately, we can’t take you with us on the Team Stone bus, so you’ll have to find a way to get there yourself (Note: parking at UCLA), but we’ll hook you up with the admission. If you want in, go here and RSVP. Due to limited capacity at the theater, not everyone will make it on our list. Reservations are first come first serve, so RSVP ASAP! You must be at Royce Hall by 4:30pm. Doors close at 4:45pm, so don’t be late!


Beer Wars Movie: Compatriots Clip from Beer Wars on Vimeo.

If you can’t join us in LA, you’ll have plenty of other screening options across the country. Check your local theaters and the Fathom Events website for official screening locations. San Diego beer fans will have three options: AMC Mission Valley 20, Regal Horton Plaza San Diego, and Regal Mira Mesa 18 with IMAX. Remember, all screenings will be broadcast live on April 16th, but be sure to check with your local theater for actual times.

We’re brimming with anticipation for this monumental one-time beer event, and we hope you’ll catch the simulcast on April 16th. Cheers!

-Matt Steele

Big Fat Cans and Helping Hands

Mike Palmer
Each year we put out the word to “Drag your big fat cans over to Stone!” for our annual collection for the North County Food Bank. This time we had the fun idea to give a little incentive for your good deeds: If you manage to fill the food collection bucket to the top, we pull out a rare keg from our archive for growler fills. We put out the word right before Thanksgiving, and the response has been phenomenal. In particular, today has been astonishing.

Between Team Stone and Stone Fans, we filled three big buckets past the top as of last week. The third bucket was sitting in the hall of our offices spilling over on the floor this morning with the fourth bucket barely filled in the Stone Company Store. Matt Steele called the good folks at the North County Food Bank to come and pick up the third bucket, and they were excited by the “beautiful!” news. Well, they’ll get the sweet surprise of having to lug away twice what they were expecting! That’s right, over the past six hours Stone Fans filled the fourth bucket, which means Erick Gordon in the store just put on a keg of Alesmith/Mikkeller/Stone Belgian Style Triple Ale.

This is by far the best turn out we’ve had from any year, and I’m excited to see how much we’ll have collected by New Year’s Day. I’m always moved by the show of support we get from our charity fund raisers and even in these troubled times your goodwill (clearly illustrated by the food buckets) is overflowing.

Cheers to all you folks for showing what a great bunch of Beer-Drinking-Humanitarians we all are. So keep dragging your big fat cans over to Stone, and have a Merry Christmas!

-Mike Palmer