Taking place from May 13 to 19, American Craft Beer Week (ACBW) will provide quality beer fans and first-timers across the country a chance to celebrate the growing craft brewing industry and its members’ delicious wares. Dubbed by the Brewer’s Association as “the mother of all beer weeks,” this seven-day span is comprised of thousands of pint nights, tap takeovers, beer dinners and meet-the-brewer events put on by the nation’s 2,200-plus breweries. We’ve created a listing of more than 50 events we’re holding throughout the country for your itinerary-building pleasure, but don’t feel compelled to limit your activities exclusively to Stone happenings (though if you did, we’d be flattered). This is about every craft brewing company in America. (more…)
During last year’s San Diego Beer Week, we conducted an experiment in the name of creativity and good taste, enlisting a dozen of our brewers to craft cask versions of Stone beers, dry-hopping and infusing them with highly flavorful ingredients. Those 12 casks and the brewers were assembled at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens along with a dozen personally monogramed mallets. Then, at the stroke of four post-meridian, the brewers tapped their casks and served them to hordes of thirsty Stone fans.
It was an expanded take on the Stone Brewer’s Cask events we hold each Thursday afternoon at the Bistro and, in addition to being a wildly good time, the event provided a stunning and varied taste of the ingenuity and skill our talented brewers bring to the table. It was far too magnificent to do just once, so we’re turning it into a series of events. The exact frequency has yet to be determined, but we know for sure that the next edition of 12 Brewers, 12 Casks, 12 Mallets will take place 5 p.m. on Wednesday, February 6 at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens.
Great American Beer Festival… the name says it all. Heck, I’ll go out on a limb and say those four words strung together in that order is darn near poetic. Every year, many of the nation’s greatest breweries descend upon Denver for a three-day beer-a-thon, much to the delight of the ecstatic 49,000+ attendees that are lucky enough to nab tickets.
Beyond pouring about 36,000 gallons of beer (check out some other cool GABF stats from the Brewers Association), this is also the premier beer judging competition for U.S. brewers. And while we don’t always walk away festooned with shiny medals, we ALWAYS have a damn good time. This year was no exception. Though we did get some neat-o awards!
July 26, 1996. A sliver in time that shall go down in history as the day the world changed forever! Well, perhaps a bit of hyperbole, but it was the day that the first keg of Stone Pale Ale was ever sold. (Kudos to our buddy Vince Marsaglia from Pizza Port Solana Beach for coming to pick it up! … ‘course back then, there was only one Pizza Port, so putting Solana Beach to its name wasn’t necessary.)
We’re celebrating here as anybody should for their Sweet 16, with pillow fights, gossip, and a shiny new driver license a really stellar cake! Besides all the obvious perks of working at a brewery, we’re fortunate enough to have a really talented kitchen crew at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, and our pastry chefs were kind enough to whip something up for Team Stone as a small token of appreciation for all the hard work they do.
To answer your question, this deliciously decadent mochaccino cake made with layers of almond biscuit, pecan candy, chocolate cremeux, and coffee mousse was just as ridiculously good as it looks. And those mini “tap handles” you see? They’re made of fondant mixed with various herbs and spices to resemble our original tap handles which were actual stones that Greg used to go out and find at the beach on his “days off.” Pastry chefs Tony Martin and Tonya Ziegler (pictured below with GK) really knocked it out of the park!
In the midst of devouring this cake like rabid dogs who hadn’t eaten in a week, we collectively took a moment to recognize the incredible growth that Stone Brewing Co. has seen over the past 16 years, and how we couldn’t have done it without YOUR continued support and dedication! THANK YOU!
And while we can’t get each and every one of you a piece of cake, we can keep cranking out insanely good beers, and hosting epic events to showcase the glory of craft beer! (Like next month’s Stone 16th Anniversary Celebration & Invitational Beer Festival.</plug>)
Cheers to our first 16 years, and to the next 16! Thanks for being our friends.
Books. You know, actual, physical pieces of paper covered in information, bound between covers. Retro perhaps, but we love those things. Unlike computers, you can hold them close and not feel like you’re cuddling our future robotic overlords. And that’s precisely why we’re writing not one, but two, books.
That’s where you come in. Before we even tell you what these books are about, you should know that you can play an important role in their creation.
The most important way you can contribute is with pictures. Both books will need pictures of our brewery, gardens, beer, brewers, and everything else. We know we have a ton of talented fans that have taken (literally) tens of thousands of amazing pics, so if you have high resolution, book-worthy pictures from any time in Stone’s illustrious history and you want your photo credit immortalized in Stone (get it!?!), please post them on our Facebook wall. (If you don’t use Facebook, please send them to email@example.com with the subject line “Book submission”, but only as a LAST resort.) If we want to use you picture, we’ll contact you on Facebook or email, so check your inbox.
A couple things with the pictures. First, they need to be GOOD. Like really, really good. Phone camera shots of a half empty pint glass do not fall into this category. Beautiful, crystal clear shots of the sun setting over our gardens, do. Etcetera.
Second, if any people appear in the pictures, you’ll need to have their written permission to appear in the book. We can provide you with a release form, but you’ll need to get it signed and returned to us.
Alright, on to the books themselves. The first is called “The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance,” which will be a puff piece written by Greg, Steve, & Randy, our PR Coordinator a hard-hitting, definitive guide to all things Stone. That recipe for Arrogant Bastard Ale Onion Rings you’ve been begging for? It’ll be in there. The fascinating entrepreneurial story of how Greg & Steve started the brewery? In there too. Plus a whole lot more.
Can’t wait for the October 18th, 2011 release? Pre-order it here.
The second book is called “The Brewmaster’s Apprentice.” It’s a romance novel about a brewmaster and his loyal, eager apprentice master course in brewing, featuring interviews with many of the great specialists in the craft brewing industry. Greg is conducting the interviews, and early results indicate it will be a tremendous resource for homebrewers and professionals alike.
So those are the books. We’d really love to put your incredibly awesome pictures in them. Won’t you be a pal and send them to us?
ADDENDUM: Just to clarify, we are not seeking replacements for professional photographs, nor are we on a mission to reduce employment for professional photographers. As the cover of the book illustrates, many professional photographs will be used in the book. We have a photographer/videographer on staff & we contract a very skilled photographer for special occasions. We’re virtually a photographer employment agency over here. What we’re looking for are fan pictures our photographers can’t take, such as those taken in the past or in places we can’t be, like your house or during a random visit to our gardens. And yes, of course, the photographers will receive credit, as is stated above.
Yes, we know, it’s February, and we’re just now finishing up our list of accomplishments from 2010. But once you scroll down a bit, you’ll realize why it took us a little time: we did A WHOLE LOT last year. Stone is growing at a geometric rate, and is set to become self-aware in 2014. We will then challenge IBM supercomputer Watson to a game of pinochle, which will be broadcast on network television.
All kidding aside, we are mighty proud of everything we managed to do last year. The list pretty much speaks for itself, so without further ado…here’s what we did last year (ed. note: Greg has said that if we accomplish three times as much this year, we’ll get beer-filled Faberge eggs for Christmas.)
- Highest Rated and Most Popular Brewery, Ever!–BeerAdvocate Magazine (2nd year in a row)
- Installed centrifuge, improving filtering and reducing beer loss by 5%
- Released first Belgo version of Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine on a limited draft only basis
- Stone hosted the second most attended rally in the history of the American Homebrewers Association
- Opened our new (to us) 59,500 square foot Warehouse and Distribution building
- Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale went to full-time year-round status
- Stone Brewing Co. rocked Chicago with 10 epic days of roll-out events and served over 240,000 12oz servings of our beer in one month.
- Conducted the 5th annual Craft Beer Wholesaler’s Conference (founded by Greg Koch and Arlan Arnsten) at the Craft Brewers Conference
- Released first Belgo version of Stone Imperial Russian Stout on a limited draft only basis
- Opened the new 11,000 square foot Los Angeles area branch for Stone Distributing in Carson, CA
- Opened Catering / Commissary Kitchen on Harmony Grove, Escondido
- Stone Imperial Russian Stout – 10th Anniversary Blend released
- Built a new fermenting cellar, moved 6 fermentors, and installed 8 new fermentors (each holding 360 bbls)
- Released Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA, perhaps the world’s first all-English-hops-and-malt West Coast-style double IPA
- Kicked off the Inaugural “Stone Anniversary Celebration – Brewers/VIP Reception” event at CSUSM, attended by 425 people
- Stone 14th Anniversary Celebration & Invitational Beer Festival had 5,725 attendees and raised more than $200,000 for local charities
- Conducted “Open House Career Fair” with over 200 attendees
- Completed the membrane filtration and RO filter process for wastewater recovery and started using reclaimed water for cleaning and other utility operations
- Brewed our first “fruit beer” the Stone 10.10.10 Vertical Epic Ale with wine grapes
- Won 2 medals at the Great American Beer Festival – our most ever!
o Silver medal: Stone Smoked Porter w/ Chipotle Peppers in the Herb & Spice or Chocolate Beer category
o Bronze medal: Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale in the American Style India Black Ale category
- Stone CEO Greg Koch gave the Keynote Speech to 100 managers for BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse chain
- Stone was #32 in the San Diego Business Journal 100 Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies for 2010, making Stone one of a select few companies to make the list in each of the seven years of the award’s existence
- Showed our 70th movie in the Gardens since we began our summer movie series at the Stone World Bistro & Gardens
- Stone CEO Greg Koch conducted 7 events in 7 cities in 7 days for the 2010 Stone Total Tap Tower Takeover Tour, resulting in capacity crowds in all 7 cities
- Stone CEO Greg Koch was knighted by the Belgium Brewers Federation
- Installed 3 new Bright Beer tanks – 2 @ 650 bbls; 1 @ 360 bbls
- Local sales successfully completed over 90 events for San Diego Beer Week
- Stone Brewing initiated the first annual “Winner, Winner Turkey Dinner” for Thanksgiving and donated 50 complete meals to Casa de Amparo
- Arrogantbastard.com website revamped and relaunched
- Hosted a Pink Boots Society meeting for women in the brewing industry and a Master’s Brewers Association [District] Southern California Meeting
- Brewer Exchange: Hosted BrewDog brewer Graeme Wallace for 2 weeks. Stone Brewing’s Kris Ketcham went to BrewDog in Scotland for 2 weeks
- Opened new HQ offices on Harmony Grove, Escondido
- Built new office for the brewing team
- Arrogant Bastard Ale celebrated its Lucky 13th by introducing the world to its half-brother, Lukcy Basartd Ale in November.
- Stone Cali-Belgique IPA / Stone Cali-Belgie IPA went to full-time year-round status
- For the 5th year in a row Stone Brewing collected over 1,000 pounds of food in the annual food drive!
- Hired the 351st Team Stone member; recruited and filled 238 FT/PT positions
Whew! That’s a whole lot of stuff. But that’s not all folks! There’s more!
- TripAdvisor named Stone as one of “America’s Top 10 Brewery Tours.”
- We hosted two blood drives, which resulted in 154 people donating 137 pints (enough to save up to 333 lives according to the San Diego Blood Bank!)
- Added three new full time Sales Representatives to our SoCal Sales Team, representing Stone and our portfolio of other craft and specialty beers
- Stone brewed 115,000 barrels of beer in 2010 (ed. note: to put this in perspective, that’s substantially less than a mega-brewer makes in a day)
- Stone Brewing Co. grew 31% in beer sales in 2010
- Stone Brewing won beer awards at the Australian International Beer Festival, GABF, Stockholm Beer & Whiskey Festival, European Beer Star, BeerAsia, and numerous other local, regional, and national beer festivals
- 38,032,800 twelve ounce servings of Stone beer were consumed in 2010 by loyal Stone fans and our own team members
- Stone Brewing Co. became the 9th largest craft beer supplier to grocery stores in 2010 up from #10 a year ago (Symphony IRI stats)
- Brewed four collaboration brews at Stone:
o 21st Amendment/Firestone-Walker/Stone El Camino Unreal Ale (Jan)
o Dogfish Head/Victory/Stone Saison du BUFF (Mar)
o Ballast Point/Kelsey McNair/Stone San Diego County Session Ale (Jul)
o Green Flash/ Pizza Port Carlsbad / Stone Highway 78 Scotch Ale (Dec)
- Collaboration brews brewed at other breweries:
o Saison du BUFF at both Dogfish Head and Victory
o Fat Head’s/Stone Blacken Your Rye at Fat Head’s Brewery in Cleveland (Oct)
- 47,204 folks took the Stone Brewing Tour in 2010, a 36% increase over 2009
- Since setting up the “online charitable donation form” Stone has received well over 1,500 hundred requests for beer…or an average of over 136 each month, or nearly 5 each day!
- And we have donated to 322 different charities in the past year w/ a total of 7,190 case equivalents…which comes out to 1,044 kegs…or over $330,100.00 worth of beer.
- We more than tripled the number of Stone Facebook fans, from 18,502 to 63,606
- We increased our Twitter followers by 57%, from 14,000 to 22,000 (approximately)
- In the past year, the combined Stone Websites have had over 4,473,959 page views; over 60% being new visitors. About 8% of those visits came from 161 different countries/territories
- We sold out 50 of 52 ticketed events
- Every ticketed event at Stone during San Diego Beer Week was sold out, except for the inaugural Rare Beer Breakfast (which turned out to be a good thing). Stone hosted a total of thirteen events over SDBW’s ten days
- We replied to more than 21,000 fan emails
- Stone Distributing Escondido received over 1,098 truckloads of beer from the brewery
- Stone shipped 800 truckloads of beer across the country for national distribution
- Stone Distributing Co. delivered to approximately 4,000 different stores and bars in Southern California
- Stone Distributing added its first hybrid delivery truck to its fleet of 28 trucks – all refrigerated and otherwise bio diesel up to this point
You may remember a little idea bomb we dropped a few days before Christmas about potentially opening a brewery in Europe. Today we are taking a big step forward on that project with the release of our Request For Proposal.
Just what in the hell is a Request For Proposal, you ask? Truthfully, we weren’t really sure ourselves, so we decided to check some out. We learned, more or less, that they tell the world about your project, with the goal of finding people who can help make it happen. The problem: the ones we found bored us to tears…when we were able to stay awake long enough to conjure up those tears.So we took the standard RFP and poured sauce all over it. Yummy, interesting, Stone sauce. Or, to put it literally, we designed and wrote our little hearts out in order to tell Stone’s story as powerfully as possible. What we ended up with is an über-shiny overview of the brewery and what we’re all about, along with some details about what we’re looking for in a potential European location.
The results were a little jarring even to us. It’s glossy, polished, and maybe even a little businesslike, which is not how we usually think of ourselves. But we quickly realized that the RFP reflects the tremendous skills of all the Team Stone folks who created it. Turns out we’ve got some serious badasses working here. Collectively, we’ve got smarts, looks, and talent. We even want to ask ourselves out. Did I just say that out loud?
Anyway, check it out for yourself, but keep in mind that at the end of the day, it’s a business document. We’re sharing it with all of you so that you can follow us on this crazy project from beginning to end.
Without further ado, behold the most Arrogant RFP ever.
I’ve participated in well over a dozen of our previous Beer U’s, so I can say with authority that this was one of the best ones yet. Beer U: Women Only rocked! Laura Ulrich and Jessica Gilman, two of our brewers here at Stone, led the class with me and we all had a blast. And no, we didn’t sit around gabbing about shoes and manicures the whole time. As a matter of fact, there was no mention of shopping, clothes, hormonal issues, or the shortcomings of our husbands or boyfriends* the entire evening. We talked about beer. A lot!
(*I believe the salient point here is that our husbands and boyfriends don’t have any shortcomings. Women who like craft beer obviously have an abundance of good taste and sound judgment, and couldn’t possibly choose partners who were anything short of stellar.)
The diversity of the attendees impressed me—there was a significant range of ages, careers, and beer knowledge represented. Several women were recent converts to the craft beer scene while others had been brewing their own for years. I asked for a show of hands at the beginning and counted eight homebrewers out of a group of 44 women! The energy in the room was lively from the beginning—and only got more “lively” as more beers were sampled.
All the beers we tasted that night were from breweries that employ prominent female brewers, and in a few cases, the brewmaster and/or owner is a woman. Surprised? Don’t be. While women are definitely still a minority in the craft brewing industry, there are a lot more of us around than you might think. During the Beer U we enjoyed some exceptionally tasty beers, like Moylan’s Hopsickle, Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron, Traquair House Jacobite, and the ever-popular Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Beans, Laura’s tasty signature creation. After taking informal polls, I was happily validated—women’s tastes definitely range beyond the mild (wimpy), less hoppy (boring), and pale (where’s my malt?) flavors we’re taught that we should like. Many preferred Hopsickle’s huge hoppy punch to the sweeter, malty, and mildly spicy Jacobite, blowing stereotypes out of the water.
The beer was absolutely awesome, but the real highlight of the event was the sense of camaraderie we all enjoyed, and it only increased throughout the evening (hope it wasn’t just the beer!). And by the time it was over, many of the women were totally pumped up and inspired to go home and start brewing. There was even talk of beginning an all-female homebrewing club (count me in!!). We owe a big round of gratitude to all who made this happen, and especially to the women who attended. Thanks so much, ladies, for making our inaugural* women’s only event such a huge success!
*In case you didn’t catch the significance of that word there—we’re doing this again. We know that a lot of women didn’t get the chance to go, so we’re doing the same thing this month, too. Monday, November 23rd will be the occasion of our next women’s only event: the same class, but with a different name. Get the scoop on “We Can Brew It” here.
Remember last summer when gas prices were ridiculously inflated? Remember wiping away the tears while your hard-earned cash ticked away at the pump faster than our national debt? John Egan doesn’t. While the rest of us were subject to the tyranny of fossil fuels, John avoided gas stations entirely, comfortably enjoying his wallet-friendly biofuel solution. When John isn’t supervising our brewing team, managing our cask and barrel aging program, and watching over our prized special creation beers (like Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Beans), he’s indulging in his green side by converting 100% of our Bistro’s waste oil into biodiesel fuel to power his truck. So how does he do it?
Every other week, John uses an electric pump powered by his truck battery to extract waste oil from a 50-gallon drum behind our Bistro. Once the oil is filled back into the containers it first came in, he takes it home, processes it in the custom-built system in his garage, dumps it in the tank of his truck, and voila!
So what does biodiesel have to do with beer? Well, according to John, being a brewer comes in handy. “There are a tremendous amount of parallels between biodiesel and brewing,” said John. “You take raw materials and turn them into something else, and quality is extremely important. Much of the same equipment is used such as pumps, hoses, valves, tanks, filters, etc. Actually, used brewing equipment would work exceptionally well to make biodiesel with.”
While John genuinely enjoys “taking waste materials and turning them into something of value,” he admits that brewing biodiesel isn’t a walk in the park. “It’s quite involved and takes effort,” said John. “It’s not one of those things that you try out, and then decide to scrap after a few months.”
Sure, brewing biodiesel isn’t easy, but it is easy on the wallet. After processing, one gallon of biofuel comes out to about $1. Aside from being outrageously cheap, biodiesel also runs a lot cleaner than regular diesel, and emits a pleasing french fry smell as an added bonus. It can be slightly less efficient than regular diesel, though still more efficient than regular gasoline.
John is obviously a fan of the environment, but he’s also realistic. He feels that biofuels are “an important part of our energy matrix as a supplement, but they aren’t the solution to our energy problems.” Sure, biofuel may not be the magical panacea for our energy woes, but it definitely helps. John put it best when he said “it feels very good to reuse things that would otherwise find their way into a landfill.” That’s something I think we can all agree on.
Check out the press release we wrote about our Delivery Truck Fleet running on biodiesel.
If you read the blog, you know that Steve Via broke our keg line record a few weeks ago. Well, Keg Masta Steve isn’t the only one around here kicking ass and taking names. Our bottling line crew recently set a new record by bottling a staggering 137,088 12-ounce bottles of Stone IPA and OAKED Arrogant Bastard Ale (95 pallets and 12 cases) in one day!
The previous record was 130,728 bottles (90 pallets and 47 cases), set on December 17, 2008, with each person clocking thirty minutes of overtime that day. Not only did the bottling line break the old record by 6,360 bottles, but they did it with significantly less overtime.
Our bottling line has come a long way since Ben Lee, our Production Coordinator, started on the bottling line over six years ago. “A 21,600 bottle day was a huge deal back in the day,” said Ben. Ben remembers having to place bottles onto the line manually, and then load them into boxes by hand after being filled. Bruised and swollen hands weren’t the only fun side effect. “We had to wrap our fingers in duct tape to avoid getting shredded by the bottle caps.” After one person loaded the bottles manually, another person had to stamp the boxes, load them onto the pallet, and repeat.
Though our bottling line was still pretty rudimentary during Ben’s days on the line, he was at least lucky enough to start right after we bought our first Filler machine. Before the Filler, we employed two old “Maheen” bottling machines (one for 12oz. bottles and one for 22oz. bottles), which required a minimum of two people to operate. We taxed the Maheens to their limit, running them for two shifts a day. “We were doing about 60 cases an hour with them,” said Stone President & Brewmaster Steve Wagner, recollecting the “rudimentary, highly manual” pieces of machinery. “We thought that was a huge amount of beer at the time.”
A lot has happened since Ben or Steve worked on the line (most notably, the extinction of the dinosaurs). The crew has doubled in size, and the level of automation has increased exponentially. As mentioned before, we eventually installed a Filler, which we bought used from the Molson plant in St. John, Newfoundland. We acquired a second used filler from Pyramid Brewing on August 20, 2007, and later installed a Climax Uncaser and extra Accumulation Conveyors on July 19th, 2008.
The newest addition to the line is a Slitter-Sealer machine, which we obtained from Abita Brewing in Louisiana. The gently used Slitter-Sealer was installed last Friday (the day after the bottling crew broke the record), and it makes the crews’ lives a hell of a lot easier. Instead of having to manually break tabs, fold, and seal about 20 boxes per minute, the machine will take over, sealing about 50 boxes per minute (once it’s running at full speed). Bill Sherwood, our Facilities Manager, likes the “chop-chop, flip-flap” action of the Slitter-Sealer, calling it a “Dr. Seuss kind of machine.”
According to Packaging Supervisor, Kris Ketcham, breaking the bottling record was “a perfect ending to the last day that we will probably ever have to manually break box tabs, fold, and seal.” Breaking the record was indeed a fitting end to the last day ever manually sealing boxes—but not the end of the story. We’re sure our stellar bottling line crew will continue to rock our socks off, and we can’t wait until they reach their next milestone.