This is a very exciting project for Steve and me…and all of us at Stone Brewing. We’re going to be learning quite a bit with this endeavor, first and foremost: Will we be welcome? We’re approaching this with no assumptions other than we’d like to consider any and all options (other than having our beers contract brewed by another brewery, as that’s simply not our style). Many of the countries of Europe have great brewing traditions. Some countries are also currently experiencing a bit of a resurgence of small, independent (and independent thinking) breweries. As anyone knows that has visited the Stone Brewing Co. and our attached restaurant – the Stone World Bistro & Gardens – where we have more Guest taps than we do of Stone, we enjoy sharing the camaraderie of great craft beers. We look forward to joining in the fight in Europe by doing our part to add to the growing trend towards unique, flavorful artisanal beers, as opposed to the mass-blandification efforts characterized by megabrand sameness!
Stone Brewing Co. is headed into another perfect storm! While we always like to give our brothers and sisters in craft brewing ample representation on our draft lineup at the Bistro, there are just too damn many of our own delicious brews taking up space in our cellar. That’s why, starting Sunday, February 7th, 2010, all 32+ taps at the Bistro bar will be devoted exclusively to some very special Stone beers. Digging into the cellar was never so tasty!
Now, if Sunday February 7th has a vaguely familiar ring to some of you, it’s no wonder: Stone Winter Storm kicks off the very same day as Super Bowl XLIV.
Yeah, you heard us. They’re both on the very same day. Now before you go getting your Official NFL Snuggie all in a bunch, hear us out. While Stone Winter Storm does indeed start on a blessed day, it lasts for at least a whole blessed week, and GK and Dr. Bill have picked out plenty of treasured special vintages to be poured throughout the ongoing celebration. Therefore, we’d like to remind folks that the “camping-out-the night-before” approach really isn’t necessary in order to try some spectacular Stone offerings.
So, feel like griping about an intense selection of special Stone brews? Fine. We’re happy to indulge you by receiving your complaints and/or concerns—but you’ll need to get it out of your system and get over it soon. We’ll be accepting your Game-related Gripes (below) for the next two weeks. After that, the complaint desk will close and you’ll just have to work through the cognitive dissonance on your own.
The official two week complaint period lasts from Wednesday, December 2nd – Wednesday, December 16th in the comments section below.
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.)
Class photo! A group of passionate, intelligent, and inspiring women.
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.
The idea of brewing a Belgian Imperial Porter was something that we had discussed a few times in the past few years, especially after taste panel sessions that had included Belgian Imperial Stouts and Belgian Black beers. Roasted malts and the spicy, fruity flavors from Belgian yeast strains combine surprisingly well, provided proper balance is maintained in the recipe. And we thought an Imperial Porter, with an intense chocolate malt character, might be a fun, and a bit different, version of a Belgian dark ale to try.
We decided to brew this beer with a hint of ginger, a traditional Saison brewing spice, and also with some cardamom, which comes through as an exotic spiciness in the finish. Additional complexity comes from the blend of grapefruit, lemon and orange peel which combine nicely with the tropical fruit esters provided by the Belgian yeast. It’s going to interesting to see how this beer ages over time. At 8.4% ABV, it’s built for aging.
So it is with pleasure that we present you with the homebrew recipe for the Stone Vertical Epic 07.07.07. As always, the instructions below are designed for an all malt beer. If you are an extract brewer and are uncomfortable with converting this recipe to an extract version, we suggest you contact a local homebrew store or local homebrew club for help.
This year, the Vertical Epic has taken another turn…but this time toward the simpler! I wanted to highlight a couple of things with this brew, with particular attention being paid to the future flavor development of the beer. You know, keeping it fairly simple, but making it relatively high-alcohol and full of flavor. Having had a bit of this in March, this baby was still a little young—actually, more like not-yet-born if you factor in the bottle-conditioning time required—but had a huge fruity yeast flavor (phenolic), some tasty chocolate notes, and a really pleasant texture, all of which improved as it warmed up. So below you will find the not-so-difficult-to-brew recipe to construct your very own 5 gallons of Stone 05.05.05 Vertical Epic Ale. Hope you enjoy it!
Alright, now this is going to be a little different than last years (OK, a LOT different!!). By now you might know that these “Vertical” beers are not just the same recipe as each other, they are designed to be quite different than each other. We are not trying to make the recipe as difficult to brew as possible (we’re not doing triple decoctions, or aging them in oak barrels for 3 years… yet!). Instead we’re just trying to make what we think is a great beer, and have a little fun in the process. So read on, and do the best you can. That’s kind of what I did…