#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.

saison_01

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Stone’s Slate of 2013 Events

It took just a few short hours after the big keg drop at the Stone New Year’s Celebration for us to get to work planning another big year at our Southern California digs. After a few weeks of scheming, tweaking, revising and fine-tuning, we’re ready to share our entire schedule of momentous events that will come to pass at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens* in 2013! Get out your calendar and prepare to “X” out a great many dates. See you soon!

Stone fans raise a glassful of barrel-aged goodness in support of our annual Oakquinox festival

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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.

Our Gardens Receive Shiny Stamp of Professional Approval

Jacob McKean

Those of you who have visited the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens know that we put a lot of effort into our outdoor spaces. But some of you may not be aware that the Gardens started its life as a barren storm water detention basin in a vacant industrial park.

before-after

With help from Greg on the skip loader and a gaggle of volunteers, the staff and crew moved rocks, mixed mortar, and prepared the soil, transforming our backyard—with guidance from Schmidt Design Group and landscaping contractor Landscape+—into the lush, wildlife-filled park it is today.

And now we’ve received some major recognition for that hard work from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), who called it, “Our century’s version of Ghiradelli Square, with a basis in sustainability.”

As you can imagine, a professional organization for landscape architects has pretty high standards, so we’re thoroughly stoked to win the highest honor—the Presidents Award—from the San Diego chapter of the ASLA.

So the next time you’re quaffing a beer in the Gardens, perhaps your verdant surroundings will look even greener…and the flowers smell a little sweeter…knowing that they now carry the shiny stamp of professional recognition.

Greg had his vBlog cam handy at the awards ceremony:

And here’s a snazzy guided tour of the Gardens:

Our Estate Hops


If you’ve ever enjoyed a leisurely beer in our Gardens, you may have noticed a few clusters of that magical flower that we embrace so ardently: Humulus lupulus—or the Hop. Not only do we jam our beers packed full of this heavenly little plant, but we also deck our Gardens with beautiful vines of Chinook Hops. September is a common harvesting time for Hops, and it just so happens that ours are about as ripe as they come.

Our resident Botanical Wizard, Chili, is picking the cream of the crop from our Gardens today for later use in specialty casks. Whenever you see a cask in the Bistro or on our growler fill schedule with the words “Estate-grown hops” written next to it, you know exactly what you’re getting: fresh, organic Chinook Hops sustainably grown right here at Stone. Enjoy the stunning, Eden-like pictures, and raise a glass to the glory of the hop!

-Matt Steele

The Newest Additions to our Gardens… Ducklings!


Our beloved gardener, Chili, stumbled upon a pleasant surprise this morning as he was mowing the lawn in our Gardens. We thought we would share his discovery with you…

The ducklings are the newest additions to our Gardens, which have been enjoying a Springtime boom. We’re glad to be graced with their presence, brightening an already tranquil Tuesday morning here at Stone.

At a whopping eleven ducklings, this is the largest hatching we've ever had. Check out the flickr set for more photos.

At a whopping eleven ducklings, this is the largest clutch we've had yet. Click the picture for the flickr set.

-Matt Steele

Our Beer Gardens…Literally


If you’ve been to Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, you’ve probably noticed that we have an entire acre of completely organic, fully sustainable Gardens attached to the Bistro. Some refer to them as our “Beer Gardens,” not knowing just how accurate that label really is. Truth is, we maintain our Gardens using by-products from the brewing process, resulting in real honest to goodness “Beer Gardens.”

Maintaining such a large expanse of Gardens is no easy task. So how do we do it? Meet Chili, Stone’s resident botanical wizard, and the keeper of our beautiful Gardens (he earned his nickname because he grows chilies and likes his food HOT). By reusing by-products from our Brewery and Bistro, and utilizing a few clever gardening techniques, Chili maintains our Gardens using nothing but what Mother Nature provides.

The man behind our Gardens

The man behind our Gardens

I recently caught up with Chili in his natural environment, which he lovingly refers to as his “cage.” While it’s true it isn’t exactly a window office, his “cage” is actually a fenced-off, covered storage area wedged between the Gardens and the Bistro kitchen where he keeps his desk and all of his gardening tools. Despite the jokes, Chili is quite fond of his decidedly unconventional office, and I get the sense that he prefers it to a view of Fifth Avenue. Actually, the real reason we keep Chili in a cage is to contain his unbridled passion for gardening (I apologize for that one, I couldn’t resist).

Chili working hard in his "cage"

Chili hard at work in his "cage"

I stopped by just as Chili was preparing to plant a few early yield tomatoes, and he was kind enough to share some of his secrets with me. He explained that the most important step in maintaining a healthy perma-culture is mixing the proper soil. He then divulged his secret recipe:

Chili’s Spent Grain Topsoil Recipe

Ingredients:
- 2 shovels of spent grain from the Brewery
- 2 shovels of decomposed granite (Escondido’s natural topsoil)
- 2 shovels of vegetable compost from the Bistro kitchen
- A few handfuls of nicely aged mulch from the chipper

Directions:
Combine two shovels of spent grain and two shovels of decomposed granite in a large bucket. The spent grain should contain little green specks from the hops used in the brewing process, and be slightly damp from the remnant wort (notice the desirable beery fragrance). The decomposed granite should be brown in color and have a moist dirt-like consistency. Mix together thoroughly. Add two shovels of vegetable compost from the Bistro kitchen. Make sure there is plenty of insect and worm life in the compost, and that it has a fresh earthy smell. This indicates an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Mix thoroughly with the spent grain and decomposed granite until mixture is consistent. Add a few handfuls of aged mulch (the mulch consists of fallen branches, twigs and leaves from the Gardens that have been fed through the chipper and aged in large barrels), blend thoroughly and voila! Once the topsoil is nicely mixed, it’s time to plant. Chili recommends filling the bottom of the chosen pot with gravel for drainage, and surrounding the fledgling plant with the fresh soil mix up to the first few branches. Then top it off with a bit of aged mulch, lightly water it, and watch it thrive. Once the roots have grown deep and strong, delicately transplant it to its final destination. In this case, the final destination for our vigorous little tomatoes is the Southeast nook of our Gardens (on the bank next to the gazebo/lounge/peat gravel area), where we keep a variety of seasonal vegetables. Check out a map of everything we have growing in our Gardens.

Chili’s proprietary (patent pending) soil blend works wonders in our Gardens, contributing to a fruitful year-round harvest. We’ve also noticed it makes the food taste better, due to the proliferation of essential micro-nutrients that petrochemical fertilized foods lack.

When I asked Chili why he uses spent grain from the brewery in his soil recipe instead of another fertilizer, he responded with a straight-faced “because it’s there.” I promptly reminded him that gardening is no laughing matter, and he gave me the real reason. Apparently the spent grain flourishes in the soil, creating an abundance of microbial activity and general liveliness. Chili also emphasized that it’s time proven. He’s been using spent grain since his days as a gardener at Pizza Port, and it’s worked wonders time and again.

Chili procuring spent grain from the Brewery

Chili gathering spent grain from the Brewery

Spent grain isn’t the only brewing by-product that Chili recycles. He also snatches up the used oak chips that we use to brew OAKED Arrogant Bastard Ale. These lovely, odoriferous chips not only have a beautiful deep silky brown color, but they retain their alluring bourbony smell for about a week. Chili puts them to use as a decorative top layer, propagating the pleasing smell and thick brown sheen of OAKED Arrogant Bastard Ale throughout our Gardens. Their purpose isn’t solely decorative, however, as their acidity helps neutralize the alkaline properties of the decomposed granite that makes up our natural topsoil.

The fragrant Oak chips used to brew OAKED Arrogant Bastard Ale

The fragrant Oak chips used to brew OAKED Arrogant Bastard Ale

Our Gardens are proof that sustainable gardening works. Aside from the occasional use of manure, Chili procures everything he needs for the Gardens here at the Brewery. He takes what would normally be discarded and sent to a landfill and re-uses it to create a vibrant, flourishing perma-culture. So the next time you see Chili sipping on an after shift beer or tending to the Gardens, be sure to raise him a glass on a job well done.

If you want to learn more about our Gardens, the plants therein, and lessons that could translate to your own garden, join us for “A Stroll Through the Gardens with Nan Sterman” on March 15th from 1-3pm. Nan is a popular speaker at garden shows, botanical gardens, garden clubs, and botanical societies throughout the State, and she’ll provide insight into how we “created an imaginative garden from an ugly, hole-in-the-ground sedimentation basin.”

-Matt Steele

Check out the flickr set: Gardening Stone-style with Chili

A Stroll Through the Gardens with Nan Sterman

Click for more information about this upcoming event