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…)
In preparation for our Epic Eve Dinner and the Stone Epic Festival: The Final Chapter, our all-out festival celebrating all 11 vintages in our Vertical Epic Ale series, Chef Alex Carballo and “Dr.” Bill Sysak teamed up to develop nearly two-dozen recipes for dishes that pair with each of the beers.
Realizing not all of our fans will be able to make it out for these events, but are as amped up as we are to uncap their bottles of Vertical Epic Ale at their own tastings, we wanted to provide the means by which to prepare food that will fall perfectly in sync with those beers. The following are recipes for four dishes that, when put together, make up a comprehensive meal.
It’s our hope that this will excel what will likely already be one of the most heightened and interesting beer tasting sessions of your life. Bon apetit!
The Vertical Epic Ale series started simply enough in 2001, with Stone CEO and co-founder Greg Koch suggesting we release a different Belgian-inspired beer suitable for aging each year on the date when the day, month and year registered by the same digit. The brewhouse forged forward with this initiative, producing 11 beers that, unlike many on the market at the time, were intended to be laid down so they could be opened when the last of those dates came to pass on December 12, 2012.
Eleven years later, we’re excited to announce today’s arrival of Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale. Soon, it will be time to uncap all 11 of the Vertical Epic Ale vintages and enjoy them together. Certainly, it will be a glorious capping to one of the most ambitious brewing projects ever undertaken, even for those with a few or maybe even one or two of these widely varied brews. We’re pleased with how each of them turned out and what we’ve accomplished, but at the same time, we admit to being a bit sad. This was an incredible series that we’re bummed to see come to an end, but, we’re going out in a blaze of beery glory. Enter Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale!
You’re undoubtedly aware of our Stone Vertical Epic Ale series. You may even have a cellar stocked with previous incarnations of our annual (plus a month and a day) homage to the wondrous effects of Belgian yeast and transformative hand of Father Time.
So the series itself requires little introduction, but this year’s installment merits some explanation. To put it succinctly, it is a Belgian-style amber ale brewed with cinnamon and Anaheim chillis from New Mexico’s legendary Hatch Valley (famous for growing complexly flavorful chillis prized by foodies.)
How that brief description translates into the taste of a beer is another matter. For those duties, I give you Stone’s Brewmaster Mitch Steele:
The Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale pours a deep amber with a cream colored head of foam.
The Belgian yeast strain we used this year has more pronounced banana aromatics than the clove flavors produced by some of the yeast strains we have used in past years. Mixed in with the banana esters are toffee malt notes, hints of spice — clove and cinnamon — and a trace of very mild green chili in the back. The aromas all blend together incredibly well.
Upfront, the yeast-derived banana flavors are blended very nicely with toasted and toffee-like malt flavors, fruity esters, and balanced hints of cinnamon. Mid palate the Perle and Pacific Jade hops and the Hatch green chili flavors come through. The beer finishes dry, and bitter with just the most subtle of hints of chili heat and a touch of alcohol.
Not your typical chili beer! The famous mild green chilies from the Hatch Valley in New Mexico add layers of delicious flavor with a very mild heat component. The base beer itself is very reminiscent of a European amber beer, with Perle and Pacific Jade hops, Munich and other roasted German and Belgian malts, hopped and brewed to a very Stone-like 65 IBU and 9.4% ABV. Cinnamon is a wonderful spice if used judiciously, which we did here-it doesn’t by any means dominate the beer’s flavor, but definitely adds a subtly complex spice note that blends amazingly well with the banana esters and green chili.
Malts: Pale, Crystal, Munich, CaraBohemian and Special B
Hops: Warrior, Target, Perle and Pacific Jade
Now that you’ve received the full rundown on this beer, we’ll tell you that it will begin percolating out onto shelves and taps starting on November 7th, 2011. Why not on 11.11.11, you ask? Because the beer gods prefer releases to be on Mondays. So there.
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!
Greg Koch, CEO & co-founder
Stone Brewing Co.
It’s no secret that we’re fans of our friends James, Martin and the whole team over at Scotland’s BrewDog. We’ve brewed two collaboration beers with them – BrewDog/Cambridge/Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner, and the more recent basha — and we admire them for having the guts to brew big, aggressive beers in the UK and the skill to succeed with it.
The last episode in the ongoing saga of Stone and BrewDog left off with a newly fermenting collaboration brew and some choice hand-selected Scotch whisky barrels stuffed with native Scottish fruit. So what’s next for our two breweries? Why, a Brewer Exchange Program of course.
From October 23rd to November 12th, we’ll be trading our very own Brewhouse Supervisor, Jeremy Moynier, for BrewDog’s Lead Brewer, Stewart Bowman in an open exchange of brewing acumen. Stewart will get a chance to experience brewing on a larger scale and get a feel for how we do things (or as Mitch put it, “learn from our mistakes”), and Jeremy will get a chance to experience brewing in a smaller, fast-growing brewery in an entirely different beer culture. However, since BrewDog will be out of their Lead Brewer for two weeks, Jeremy will definitely have to step up and fill his boots.
This will be a “working trip” rather than a vacation for both brewers, but they’ll probably manage to throw in some diversions along the way. Jeremy did express interest in visiting a Scottish distillery or two and scoping out some choice barrels (hint hint, James and Martin!).
We’re incredibly excited to take Stewart under our wing and to live vicariously through Jeremy and reap the benefits of his stint at BrewDog. Stay tuned as this story takes shape.
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 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.
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.
As you know, over 59 million Americans tragically suffer from the devastating condition of Stone Deprivation, but the fortunate residents of Connecticut won’t have to suffer much longer. We’ll begin distributing in the Constitution State on September 22, making Connecticut the 32nd state to receive Stone beer.
To celebrate our benevolent invasion, we’ll be throwing a series of kick-off events. The first will take place on Tuesday, September 22nd at 6pm at Prime 16, and the second will be later that night at Delaney’s at 9pm. Check out our Stone CT Events google calendar for a complete list of kick-off bashes. Keep an eye out for our hard-working Connecticut Sales Representative, Dennis Flynn, and be sure to thank him for helping spread the Arrogance to your once-thirsty state.
If you’re dying to know what Stone beers will be available and where, consult the CT section of our distribution page, and don’t be afraid to make a few phone calls. And for those of you who still suffer from Stone Deprivation, know that we haven’t forsaken you. It’s only a matter of time until we stage a take-over of your state, so be patient. In the meantime, continue to drink local and champion the cause of craft beer!
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!
Editor’s Note: Here are Mitch’s tasting notes for our upcoming collaboration brew, Ken Schmidt / Maui / Stone Kona Coffee Macadamia Coconut Porter. You’ll be able to judge the flavor profile for yourself when the beer starts hitting shelves (in very limited quantities!) on September 21. Until then, enjoy Mitch’s take on this delicious brew!
Deep brown, opaque with a creamy light brown head of foam.
Intense Kona Coffee combined with chocolate malts. The toasted coconut is also prominent, and when combined with the coffee and roasted malts, helps make this beer’s aroma reminiscent of a chocolate macaroon!
Coconut is more intense in the flavor with the coffee notes fading a bit to the background. Roasted chocolate malt and fruity esters make more of an impact here also, and the finish is where the macadamia nuts come in. It’s amazing how the flavor changes as this beer travels across the palate, and how all three of the special ingredients make their presence known in different stages.
Full bodied, rich and luscious. It is simply incredible how smooth and silky this beer is.
This is just an amazing beer to taste. The 3 special ingredients, Kona Coffee, toasted coconut, and macadamia nuts combine wonderfully, and come across at three distinct stages of tasting this beer. Just a wonderful beer to relax with and drink slowly, especially while thinking about the islands!