The A’s To Your Q’s: Stone Groundbreaking Collaborations

There’s a reason no U.S. craft brewers have constructed breweries in Europe. It’s very difficult and, of course, expensive. Back in 2009, when initially looking into the prospect of building the physical embodiment of our ethos-driven brewing operation across the Atlantic, we knew it wouldn’t be easy, but in pursuing that project, it became clear that it would be even harder than we originally estimated. But bringing the innovation and flavor of American craft beer to Europe is something that’s very important, not just for us, but for the fans of craft beer, present and future, who will benefit from access to high-quality New World brews. So, we spent years hammering out a plan that would allow us to get it done. Not only that, we pushed ourselves and our resources even further, and came up with a way to also open up a facility in the Eastern United States. The best part of it all—we’re going to be constructing both simultaneously, so that our fans in the Eastern U.S. or Europe will be able to take in the Stone experience in the not-so-distant-future. In the end, while our bold, interesting and delicious beers set us apart from the world’s thousands of other breweries, so, too, does the full-on Stone Experience that comes from being able to visit and see firsthand who we are, what we do and what we stand for at our Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens eclectic farm-to-table restaurants and attached Stone Company Stores.

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But, because we’re moving forward with a very aggressive construction plan for our two new breweries, we are at our financial limit and must put the Bistro & Gardens experiential components on hold…unless we get a little help. And for that help, we’re reaching out to our fans across the globe. Some will call it crowdfunding, but it really isn’t. This is actually more along the lines of crowd participation, mainly because these projects will get done either way—we’re just allowing fans to help speed up the process—and, more importantly, we’re no scoundrels. In addition to a warm feeling of having done something rewarding, we’re giving you something in return for what is, essentially, an advance on your hard-earned funds…beer! But not just any beer. We’re talking collaborations between Stone and some of the most prestigious brewing operations on the planet. We’re talking BrewDog, Dogfish Head Craft Brewing, Victory Brewing Company, Le Baladin and many more. These one-time-only specialty beers will be brewed at our new facilities as soon as they are operational, funneled into collectible (and rather spiffy) one-and-a-half-liter commemorative bottles, and set aside for the thirsty beer enthusiasts helping us to do what we do, as well and as fast as we can.

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Surely, there will be those who question our crowd participation approach. That’s only natural when a company does something in a manner that’s never been done before. And without questioning, this world would be nothing but a bunch of mindless drones shackled in allegiance to the status quo. That would be unfortunate. Since the birth of Stone Brewing Co., we have railed against such behavior, demanding something far better than the norm. So, we respect that some may question what we’re up to, and expected this when we decided to embark on this ambitious endeavor. No brewing company of our size has employed this method before. Then again, no other brewing company has attempted to fund and execute such a large-scale, dual, cross-continental project. Given that, it shouldn’t be surprising that something without precedent involves elements that also lack precedent.

We respect your right to pose questions and will strive to answer them all (see below). Having alternative opinions about it is O.K., too. After all, there are numerous other ways we could raise the capital to move forward at the pace we desire. In fact, some have been utilized by other brewing companies—businesses much different than ours in many, many ways. Take, for instance, these scenarios:

  • Stone could team with a soulless, multinational conglomerate with deep pockets looking to play sugar daddy to an American brewery with a glitzy, marketable name it can exploit in exchange for transporting it and setting it up in a nice, little, tourist attraction-like place in Europe that will surely serve said mega-company’s purposes far more than said starry-eyed American newcomer.
  • Stone could cut back on efforts to make places like Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens and Stone Company Stores the must-visit places they’ve become. They’d be less inviting, less innovative, offer fewer of the incredible beers, large scale beer festivals, creative beer-centric events and local, sustainable, thoughtfully procured (and way more expensive) ingredients our fans love, but those places would be far more profitable.
  • Stone could lay off a bunch of employees and strain our workforce, essentially running a mill of miserable grunts reduced to near-robotic status.
  • Or, Stone could go the most traditional route—rounding up a bunch of rich folks, the majority of which wouldn’t understand one thing of substance about craft beer, but would have heard the stories of its rise and, therefore, instinctively know that this is something they simply have to be a part of. Throw in the fact that Stone is well known and has a great deal of marketing appeal, and it would be very easy for us to raise the investor funds needed to get these facilities built at the pace we desire. All our backers would want in return, naturally, is a piece of the pie. Of course, that would have to involve more than just an exchange of funds. This would be a large investment. They would want the oversight and input that they, as (real or perceived) masters of the business world, are entitled when handing over a big lump of cold, hard (emphasis on the “cold” part) cash. No problem, right? After all, as we stated before, they don’t know anything about craft beer, so they’re the perfect people to help guide our brewing program. They wouldn’t look to cut production costs, raise prices, alter our venues and events to be more profitable at the sacrifice of quality and reward to those who visit both…would they? The answer falls between “probably” and “definitely.”

We don’t find any of the above acceptable. There is no point to Stone Brewing Co. existing if our deep-seated philosophies and commitment to excellent beer for all aren’t completely intact. Our fans deserve it. And that’s why we are reaching out to the people who matter most to us—the fans who love our beer and want more of it along with the Stone Experience—to meet our vision of more Stone faster and with zero compromise.

Despite our best efforts to share the impetus and reasoning behind our crowd participation efforts, we realize no blog post can answer all of the questions people are bound to have…but we’re going to try anyway. The following are some helpful answers to what are bound to be some frequently asked questions about this enterprise.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why are you using IndieGoGo instead of Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is so passé! But seriously, folks—it all comes down to one site restricting alcohol sales and the other allowing us to give craft beer fans the kind of perks they, by definition, actually want—craft beer!

When will the beer be brewed?

Good question. We anticipate brewing the beers from late 2015 through late 2017. We’re promising amazing, mind-blowing beers—thus, they will take time. Not to mention the fact we have to first build our awesome Berlin brewery. Construction delays always have the potential of rearing their ugly heads, so it’s best not to talk in specifics at this juncture, but we’ll keep you abreast of the situation as we go and make sure everything’s crystal clear when the time comes for you to get your beer.

How much beer will there be and where will it be brewed?

During the course of the crowd participation campaign, we’ll announce new collaborations every three days or so. The beers will all be brewed in BERLIN. How many really depends on you guys. The more you front for, the more we’ll make.

How old must I be to purchase a collaboration beer?

In the U.S., you must be 21 years of age at the time of purchase. This is the law, so it’s best not to employ creative—nay, misguidedly hopeful—mathematics. Of course, for those outside the U.S., legal drinking ages are different, so make sure you meet individual requirements for your country of residence.

Can I buy beer now if I’m not 21 but will be 21 by 2015?

Again, you must be 21 years of age AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE. (Ditto the individual age requirements outside the U.S.)

Can I buy beer now if I’m not 21 but am giving it as a gift to someone who is 21?

Nope.

Just how rare are these beers?

Pretty damn rare! The bottles in this campaign will ONLY be produced in association with this crowd participation campaign—from the time of announcement until the time they sell out or the campaign ends, whichever comes first.

Will any of these beers be available for retail purchase later on?

Anyone, including distributing companies and retail operations, can purchase the beer during this campaign at the same price as the general public. There is no way for us to police who purchases the beer via this platform. However, if it should end up being resold at a retail establishment, it’s very likely the retailer will sell it at a substantially higher price. We may take some of the beer and package it for sale at a later date, as well,  however, if we do, we’ll package them in 750-milliliter non-commemorative bottles that we will sell for $30. Yes, that’s the same price as we’re offering the 1.5-liter bottles, so ordering now gets you double the beer at the same price. We recommend pre-ordering.

How many collaboration beers may I purchase?

First off, we LOVE your attitude, and are glad to say you can purchase AS MANY BOTTLES OF AS MANY OF THE BEERS AS YOU WOULD LIKE! How refreshing for ultra-rare brews, the majority of which are offered with a maximum per-person limit if you can even get your hands on them at all, right?

Can I purchase more than one beer at a time?

Yes and no. Yes, you may purchase more than one beer at a time, but only if you are selecting the case option where you get 12 bottles of the same beer. All other purchases must be made individually, one bottle at a time, per the limitations of Indiegogo.

Are there any discounts for bulk purchases?

We want to help appease the appetite of those who know they want a lot of a certain beer, so Cross-Planetary Brewing Revolutionaries will have the option of purchasing a case of 12 of any of the collaboration beers at the discounted rate of $300 (a $60 savings). Once this option has been selected, a Stone representative will contact you with an e-mail asking which beer you would like to select. Please note that all such selections are final.

What if I want to switch the collaboration beer I purchased to another collaboration beer in the series?

We understand being selective. We were VERY specific in our choices, too. Just wait until you see all the incredible folks we’ll be brewing with! We don’t well up with glee in making this decree, but NO CHANGES will be allowed. Once a decision is made, the die is cast.

Is there an option for me to cut to the chase and order all of the collaboration beers at once?

Due to certain restrictions beyond our control, beers must be purchased individually, however, it will be easy to stay on top of each beer release simply by checking in on our Indiegogo campaign page or following Stone on social media via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google+.

What if I have a change of heart and no longer want the collaboration beer I purchased?

Sorry, but all sales are final. Choose wisely and be at peace with your decision before clicking PURCHASE.

Why don’t you know what style of beers most of the collaborators will be brewing?

In the case of some of our collaboration beers, the ideas flowed instantaneously, so we’re able to disclose what those brews will be. However, in preparation for this campaign, rather than place deadlines on creativity, we vowed to give the brewers time to fully explore the depths of their imaginations so our fans get something truly special in the end.

Can you ship me my beer?

We’d love to ship beer to the U.S., but we’d be breaking so many laws that countless badges would be on us faster than you can say “Carmen San Diego.” You will be asked to choose your pick-up point from Stone locations on the West Coast, east of the Mississippi, and in Europe when the beer is almost ready.

If you are not shipping beer in the U.S., what are you sending me?

We’ll send you a delightfully rare, never-before-seen certificate that will be redeemable, at a time yet to be determined, for the precious bottle of beer you buy today. Don’t worry, when it gets closer to beer o’clock, we’ll send you an email with further instructions. You will also receive a high-resolution certificate via email recognizing you as an official Cross-Planetary Brewing Revolutionary.

Where will the pick-up spots be located?

That list currently includes Stone Company Store – Escondido, Stone Company Store – Pasadena, Stone Company Store – Berlin and the yet-to-be-determined site of our Eastern U.S. facility, but additional locations may be added between now and pick-up time.

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Where will the Eastern U.S. facility be located?

Well we just told you, we don’t know quite yet, but we are honing in on about a half-dozen locations that seem very well suited for our operations, and hope to announce the final spot by the end of September.

OK then, where will the Berlin facility be located?

At the historic site of a former gasworks operation dating back to 1901 in Berlin’s Mariendorf area.

What if I don’t live in an area where Stone has a pick-up location? How can I get my beer?

Your beer will be kept in the most optimal of conditions for up to one year after the announcement of its release. That will give you time to plan a trip to one of our designated pick-up locations, however, if you can’t get to us, there are options. It’s permissible to dispatch a mule 21 years of age or over to pick up your beer. Please note there is a chance that, should you select our Eastern U.S. location as a pick-up venue, it may not be fully constructed by the time your beer is ready for pick-up. At that point, you’ll need to wait until the Eastern U.S. location is officially open, however, you will still have until one year from the date of the beer’s release to pick it up.

What do I need in order to claim my beer?

The all-important redemption certificate and photo identification are all that is required if you are picking up the beer yourself. If you send a representative, the certificate and a communication authorizing a particular individual—who must then provide their photo ID—is required to claim the beer on your behalf. The last thing we want is for your spoils to get into the wrong hands!

What if I lose my voucher?

Don’t! ‘Tis a precious item. (But if you do, just shoot an email to revolution@stonebrewing.com)

How long will I have to claim my beer?

One year’s time from initial notification that your purchased beers are at your selected pick-up spot and waiting for you to claim them.

Why should craft beer fans help fund breweries in the Eastern U.S. or Europe?

Why not? Especially when you’ll get rare craft beers produced in collaboration with some of the most highly regarded brewers in the world in exchange for what is, essentially, an advance on funds you would have spent on beer anyway? This is in no way a donation. You help us get our Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens locations open and you get beer. You don’t help us, and you don’t get beer…and have to wait for said Bistros. It’s your choice and we’re above arm-twisting…but not above giving beer fans more beer!

Why does Stone need money in the first place?

Thanks to fans of our beer, we have attained a great level of success over the past 18 years. As those who’ve been paying attention have seen, we’ve grown at a rapid rate—adding on to our brewery, upping beer production and distribution, growing our workforce, opening Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Stone Company Stores, Stone Brewing Tap Room, Stone Farms and more. We’re always reinvesting our profits back into Stone and doing something new, which leaves us on a bit of a shoestring budget at times. We have enough money to open breweries east of the Mississippi and in Berlin, but not enough to immediately install our dining, garden and retail elements. Rather than wait and provide a less-than-optimal experience, we’re willing to enlist our incredible industry collaborators and offer “beer futures” so that, hopefully from Day One, all visitors to our new facilities get the full-on Stone Experience.

How much is $1 million really going to expedite the construction of the Bistros and Stores?

Significantly, but admittedly not as much as, say, $5 million. But we’re not against raising that much…or more. No matter what, the funds raised through this campaign will be funneled directly to these projects and moving them up on the construction schedule.

What percentage of the $50 per bottle price tag goes to producing, packaging and delivery of the beer?

100% of proceeds raised through sales of the collaboration beers will go directly to expediting of construction on the aforementioned facilities to complete the Stone Experience.

You still haven’t answered all of my questions. Where can I go for more information?

Your best bet is to go straight to the source—check out our Indiegogo campaign page.

 

We’ve Exported Greg Koch

Jacob McKean

Well, Mitch is back from the U.K., where he brewed a monstrously hoppy yet sessionable IPA, but now we’ve sent Greg to mainland Europe for a series of historic events. Seems like we’ve got someone in Europe all the time these days.

Here’s the situation: Greg has gone to Europe to continue the search for a brewery location. We’ve been searching for almost 2 years now, but we’re doing our absolute best to nail down a site. It’s been a challenge. Hopefully we’ll have news to report soon.

While he’s over there, he’ll be breaking some new ground in the European beer world. This Friday, September 16th Brussels’ legendary Moeder Lambic bar will be hosting Greg & 30 insane taps of Stone beer.

As far as we know, that is the most beer ever from a single brewery on tap in one place in Europe. Feel free to correct us if we’re wrong, but we believe this is a first. We know for certain this event will feature the first non-grey market Stone beer on draft ever in mainland Europe, which means you can be assured it will be fresh & served properly. We don’t expect to do this again until we open our European brewery.

The event will actually be a mini-festival of sorts, featuring Stone merchandise, bottled beer, and, of course, Greg’s now famous speech, usually delivered from the top of a bar. No word yet on whether or not he’ll deliver it in Dutch, French, or German. Oh, and this amazing event just got a great write-up in The New York Times.

While he’s traveling, he’ll be doing a variety of other events as well:

  • On Sunday, September 18th, Greg will travel to Amsterdam’s “American BeerBar BeerTemple”, an innovative new establishment bent on bringing the American craft beer revolution to Dutch beer lovers. The event will feature 8 palate-wowing Stone beers from bottles along with the aforementioned Mr. Koch and his shenanigans.
  • Greg will then travel to sunny Glasgow, Scotland for an event at BrewDog Glasgow on Tuesday, September 20th. The event will feature an array of heavy hitting beers, cockney speechification, and rollicking good times.
  • The Greg/awesome beer train then rolls into BrewDog Edinburgh on Wednesday, September 21st for more of the above-mentioned activities.
  • And finally, Greg will come back to the good ‘ol U.S. of A for an epic event at New York City’s legendary Rattle ‘n Hum on Thursday, September 22nd, featuring 17 Stone taps. Should be a blast.

This will be quite the trip. Feel free to come along for any or all of it. You’ll like it, we promise.

Brewer Exchange Program Kicks Off Next Week

Matt Steele
Representing our part in an international Craft Brewer Exchange Program with our friends at BrewDog, our Brewhouse Supervisor Jeremy Moynier is jumping on a plane for Scotland today. We’ll be getting BrewDog’s Lead Brewer, Stewart Bowman, in return. Both brewers will spend two weeks getting their boots wet and learning the ins and outs of each other’s domain.

“I’m excited to go,” said Jeremy. “I’m looking forward to brewing on a smaller scale again and seeing how those guys do things. The Metric System should make things interesting.” Jeremy isn’t all work and no play. He said he’s also looking forward to pubs, food, scotch, sight-seeing, and traveling with his girlfriend, Andrea, who is meeting up with him after his two week stint at BrewDog to enjoy a bit more of the continent before flying back home on Thursday, November 12. Jeremy did express some hesitation about the weather. “Martin Dickie (BrewDog Brewmaster) said the weather in Scotland is ‘pretty miserable’ right now. You know that when a Scot says the weather is miserable it’s going to be BAD.” Stewart, on the other hand, gets to escape the misery to sunny San Diego and bask in our laughably mild 70-degree Fall weather (just watch, he’ll probably complain about the balmy heat).

Brewhouse Supervisor Jeremy Moynier

Stone Brewhouse Supervisor Jeremy Moynier

The weather isn’t the only thing Stewart will enjoy when he flies in on Saturday night. He’ll also enjoy two weeks of Stone boot camp where he’ll better acquaint himself with brewing on a larger scale and perhaps glean a thing or two from our “we mean business” approach to brewing. He’ll also get a chance to learn from our mistakes and hopefully help BrewDog avoid some of the growing pains associated with rapid expansion. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to come over to Stone and work with some of the masters of the US craft brewing scene,” said Stewart. “I can’t wait get in there and help make some of the beers which have been so inspirational to all of us kids over at BrewDog.”

BrewDog's Stewart Bowman cozying up to a lovely cask of bashah maturing with tayberries

BrewDog's Stewart Bowman cozying up to a lovely cask of bashah maturing with tayberries

We don’t plan on letting the guys at BrewDog show us up with their hospitality; it’s our mission to show Stewart a damn good time. Unfortunately, he’ll be returning to Scotland right as San Diego Beer Week is revving up, but that won’t stop us from treating him to the time of his life in one of the most vibrant brewing scenes in the world. If you see him out around town you can help us out. Buy him a beer and show him that San Diego is where it’s at. Between that and the weather—and the beer of course—he may not want to leave.

-Matt Steele

The Stone and BrewDog Saga Continues…

Matt Steele
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.

Our Brewhouse Supervisor, Jeremy Moynier, playing with malt

Our Brewhouse Supervisor, Jeremy Moynier, playing in the malt

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.

-Matt Steele

The Newest Olympic Event – Synchronized Beer Drinking?!


Wow, just when you thought we were done with our collaboration shenanigans for a while…we bring you the first ever Synchronized Beer Tapping event (at least we think it’s the first–please don’t check that with the Guinness book or anything)! Here’s our grand plan: at precisely 4pm San Diego time and 7pm Boston time, we will be simultaneously tapping our very first kegs of BrewDog/Cambridge/Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner both here at Stone and at Cambridge Brewing Co. (CBC). What’s so special about this, you ask? Several things. For one (and it’s a really big ONE), kegs of this beer are an endangered species, and you may never see it on tap again–although occasional bottle sightings continue to be reported. Reason number two: Will Meyers, head brewer at CBC, tells us they pretty much never have guest beers on tap at their brewpub, so this is quite a rare occurrence. Reason number three: it’s a damn good beer. Duh.

Joining Will at the New England portion of this historic event will be our own East Coast Regional Brewery Representative and general Cool Dude and Nice Guy, Michael Saklad. If you live in the area and haven’t had the chance to meet him, you might want to seriously consider introducing yourself. When is it NOT a good idea to make friends with someone who peddles beer for a living? And to make Saturday even more memorable, Will tells us that alongside this beautiful black collaboration brew, CBC will also be proudly serving up some really stellar beers from the other two members of this team brewing effort. Here’s what lucky Bostonians have to look forward to: 2007 Stone Imperial Russian Stout, wine barrel-aged 2008 Stone Old Guardian Barleywine, BrewDog Dogma, and whiskey cask-conditioned BrewDog Paradox. As Will says, “Obviously, we’re super excited!” So are we, Will, so are we.

And just in case you somehow have not managed to appreciate the gravity of the situation, just in case you’re thinking, “Meh, I’ll try some next time,” ponder this: only 12 kegs of this black sheep of a beer were ever produced. TWELVE. As Ben Lee, our Production Coordinator, pointed out to me, that is the smallest number of kegs we’ve made of any of our beers in the history of us making beer. So this means that after we’ve finished the two we’re tapping on Saturday, the two that will be pouring at CBC, the one we’re sending to BrewDog, and one that some lucky Bastards down in San Diego already got their hands on, there will only be six kegs left in existence. Six. And no, you can’t have them.

-Kathryn Bouscaren

bashah – The Black Double Belgian IPA by Stone and BrewDog

As posted on BrewDog’s Blog

01.08.2009

bashah - The Black Double Belgian IPA by Stone and BrewDog

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Graeme Wallace, Steve Wagner, Martin Dickie, Greg Koch and Mitch Steele. Just about to mash in!

Greg Koch, Steve Wagner and Mitch Steele, all of Stone Brewing Co. from California, have spent the last couple of days at BrewDog. Stone, and in particular the approach of founders Greg and Steve, was a huge inspiration to Martin and myself when we started BrewDog. For all at BrewDog, having Greg, Steve and Mitch over and brewing with us is pretty much like a crazy music fan being able to go on stage and rock out with their favourite band.

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Matteo Milan, Graeme Wallace, Stewart Bowman and Mitch Steele checking on the mash.

We brewed a special Stone-BrewDog collaborative beer, a double black Belgian IPA called bashah. We are going to release some more details about the beer itself later; there are a few pretty exciting twists to it.

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Matteo Milan (our Italian Brewer) prepared a stunning BBQ at the end of the brew-day; our brewing system is quite labour intensive so everyone worked up a good appetite.

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We had some amazing beers with our food including a 2003 Stone Vertical Epic and a 2003 Speedway Stout, oh and some Tokyo* (much to our amazement, drinking this beer did not lead to the downfall of Western Civilization). Narayanan gave us some excellent signing and Martin conducted a kick-ass whiskey and chocolate tasting. We also shot the first few scenes of a soon to be huge hit movie, The Bare Mitch Project, a porn-horror thriller starring Mitch Steele and Graeme Wallace shot in our very own Canteen of Death.

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Stars of the new movie: Graeme Wallace and Mitch Steele.

On Friday Greg, Mitch and I went lobster fishing, caught some mackerel then sweet-talked my Grandmother into cooking the mackerel when we got safely back into port. Other highlights of the visit included a beer and food extravaganza at Musa which is our favourite restaurant in Aberdeen and a tour and whiskey tasting with the guys from Duncan Taylor.

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Greg and Mitch doing some North Atlantic lobster fishing.

The label text for bashah was written by Greg and myself while driving to dinner on Friday evening, hopefully that is not going to show too much in the final copy!

We all had a blast brewing and hanging out with the Stone crew, for us their visit is the most exciting thing that has ever happened at BrewDog – it was a real privilege to be able to brew with our heroes!

The first release of the beer should be around mid September. Watch this space.

Greg Koch’s thoughts on the collaboration:

“James, Martin and the entire team at BrewDog really went to a lot of energy to show us a great time…and they sure did! We packed the two-and-a-half days (just 1 1/2 for Steve) solid. Castle visiting, distillery visiting, brewing, dining in a 150+ year old banana hanging warehouse in Aberdeen, selecting used single malt Scotch whiskey casks from a rare whiskey collector/broker (by tasting the whiskeys that used to be in them of course) for diversion of some of the bashah for aging, touring the small, lonely, windy roads of the countryside and seaside in Jame’s hold-on-for-dear-life driving style, BBQing at the brewery, lobstering and mackerel fishing w/James’ father and granddad (w/said mackerel subsequently being artfully cooked up by his epitome-of-hospitality grandmother), and finally as a testament to the sheer exhaustion at the end of the day: successfully falling asleep in the little hotel with the pub attached on Friday night at Midnight in the middle of horrid karaoke renditions of Bon Jovi songs in Scottish accents by the local, VERY inebriated town folk (We momentarily thought about checking out the pub, but then Mitch and I decided that the risk of accidentally offending the wrong soccer team — with something presumably as simple as a “sorry…what did you say?” — and thus leading to an even quicker “lights out” might not have been worth it.  Sure we would have risked it for a pint of BrewDog but they didn’t have the good taste to serve their beer, and we definitely weren’t going to go in for an uninspired pint of Euro lager! It’s not like we’d had a shortage of beer after all.).

“I definitely can’t wait to taste the result of ‘bashah’– the world’s first ever (as far as we know) commercially brewed Black Belgian Double IPA!”

-GK ( @StoneGreg )

The Papa Birds Have Left the Nest


It’s official: The papa birds have left the nest. For the next few weeks, our fearless leaders Greg Koch, Steve Wagner, and Mitch Steele will be kicking ass all across the European continent brewing amazing beer with fellow craft brewers, schmoozing at various beer events, and fervidly spreading the Arrogance. Sure, the beer will still flow and things will pretty much be the same around here, but we can’t help feel that brief exhilaration we used to get as kids when the teacher stepped out into the hall. I’m dodging spitballs as I type…

So what exactly will our beloved beer patriarchs be up to in the Old World? Well, Greg left on Sunday to attend the TEDGlobal 2009 conference at Hogwarts…err…Oxford, England. From there he’ll be heading to Norway on July 27th, where he’ll be joined by Steve and Mitch to brew the final iteration of Jolly Pumpkin/Nøgne-Ø/Stone Special Holiday Ale with Kjetil Jikiun at Nøgne-Ø (check out Greg’s last visit to Norway). The second, “funkier” iteration was brewed back in April with Ron Jeffries at Jolly Pumpkin, and this version is sure to be equally unique (Steve is actually bringing the San Diegan White Sage with him for the brew).

Remember this awesome graphic, well now it's July and we're on the third & final stop - Nøgne-ø in Norway

Remember this awesome graphic? Well now we're on the 3rd & final stop. Nøgne-Ø, here we come...

The three Stone beer diplomats will then be off to Scotland on July 30th to brew a new collaboration beer with our friends James Watt and Martin Dickie at BrewDog. They’re not sure exactly what they’re going to brew there, but one thing’s certain—the beer will be aged in Scotch Whiskey barrels, hand selected by the Stone crew and their brewing brethren at BrewDog. Steve will then depart the day after brewing, and Greg and Mitch will head off to London to appear at a slew of Stone events, as well as attend the Great British Beer Festival. For a full run-down of where they’ll be, check out our UK Stone Events google calendar (scroll to August). Event details may change, so call ahead before attending!

We wish Greg, Steve, and Mitch a safe, and most importantly, FREAKIN’ AWESOME, inter-continental beer adventure. It’ll be business as usual until they get back, but watch out for paper airplanes.

-Matt Steele

The Best Damn Black Pilsner Ever Hits Shelves on Monday


Remember way back on April 1st when we announced our next collaboration beer, BrewDog/Cambridge/Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner? Remember how clever you felt when you dismissed it as an obvious April Fools gag? Stone brewed a Pilsner? Yeah right. Then remember how foolish you felt when we confirmed that it was true—that it was in fact a real beer? Man (knee slap), good times.

Now that the confusion and hurt feelings have subsided, all that’s left is a very real—and very good—Black Pilsner (we know, there’s no such thing, but let’s put that aside for now…or forever). We brought you the play-by-play on brew day with James Watt from BrewDog, Will Meyers from Cambridge Brewing Co., and our Head Brewer Mitch Steele, but there’s more to the story.

Will Meyers, James Watt, and Mitch Steele - three revolutionaries at work.

Will Meyers, James Watt, and Mitch Steele - three master brewers at work.

First of all, let’s tackle this whole “lagers take longer to brew” myth. SOME do. There are major brand lagers that take less time to brew than craft brewed ales. Yes, a craft brewed lager may typically take longer than a craft brewed ale. Blah, blah blah. Congrats if you’ve stayed with me this long, hell I was starting to bore myself. The bottom line is the end result. Says me. Now let’s move on.

All I can say is that this beer better be better, because this lager took roughly four times longer to ferment and condition than a typical Stone beer (we also bottle-conditioned it for a few weeks, further prolonging its release). After looking back at the brew sheet, Mitch found that primary fermentation took 30 days, and aging (aka ‘lagering’) took 50 days. That’s a total of 80 days that the beer spent training to be the best damn Black Pilsner around.

Bottling Line Operators Steve Parks and Ryan Roersma modeling the shiny new bottle

Bottling Line Operators Steve Parks and Ryan Roersma modeling the shiny new bottle

The eclectic hop bill was also a bit of a challenge to balance. From the beginning, the plan was to use 100% Saphir hops in the dry-hop because it has the most “Pilsner-like” qualities, and the Brewmasters thought it would lend the beer a nice “elegance.” However, they also realized early on that Saphir hops are fairly subtle, and they might not give the beer enough of a hop kick.

Then, on June 12th, the beer gods smiled upon us. In a fortunate turn of events, James just happened to be in town from Scotland promoting his tasty beers, and he was able to stop by the brewery and corroborate with Mitch on what to do next. They tasted two versions of BrewDog/Cambridge/Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner, one dry-hopped with Saphir, and one double dry-hopped with Saphir and Sorachi Ace. Lo and behold, they came to a decision. “We agreed that the Sorachi Ace addition kicked the beer up a notch,” said Mitch, “right where we wanted it to be.” When Will was consulted about the extra dry-hopping, his response was: “The hoppier the better!” We knew we liked that guy for some reason.

Mitch and James tasting two versions of the beer when James was in town on June 12th. They decided to go ahead with a second dry-hopping with Sorachi Ace hops.

Mitch and James tasting beers when James was in town on June 12th. After tasting two versions of Juxtaposition, they decided to go ahead with a second dry-hopping with Sorachi Ace hops. They celebrated their decision by tasting Stone 13th Anniversary Ale. Rough life.

Thanks to the unparalleled artistry of these three brewmasters, BrewDog/Cambridge/Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner is shaping up to be one amazing Black Pilsner…err…wait….what? You still have a problem with us calling it that? Fine. It’s probably a Black Double Pilsner anyway. Feel better?

Alright, let’s put this to rest. Just what the hell is a Black Pilsner, anyway? “It’s a Pilsner in the fact that we brewed it with Pilsner malt and fermented it with Pilsner yeast,” said Mitch, “but it’s bigger, darker and hoppier, and it’s unlike any beer I’ve ever had.” There you have it. Settled.

Bottles going through the filler. Look at that gold glisten...

Bottles going through the filler. Look at that gold glisten...

Now for the bad news—we didn’t make a ton of this beer. In fact, the yield was so low that it’s only going to be available in a few lucky locales (see below) in VERY limited quantities, and in 12oz. bottles only (sorry to crush your hopes and dreams). So when can you get your hands on it? BrewDog/Cambridge/Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner will start hitting store shelves this Monday, July 27th. Prepare yourself for the best damn Black Pilsner EVER.

The following places will be receiving small quantities of BrewDog/Cambridge/Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner in 12oz. bottles:

Scotland
Massachusetts
Georgia
Washington
Oregon (Portland)
Arizona
N. California
S. California
New York
Ohio
Virginia
Colorado

Check out information on our previous collaboration beers

- Matt Steele

What the Hell is Stone Bombastic Lager?


That’s the exact same question I asked our Lead Brewer (and infamous biofueler) John Egan after seeing the pompously named beer rear its head in various places, such as on the tap list for Southern California Storm and on the Stone Company Store’s growler fill schedule. So what’s the official word?

To sum it up, Stone Bombastic Lager is the beer left over from propagating the pilsner yeast we used in BrewDog / Cambridge / Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner. What does that mean? Let me explain.

When we acquire new yeast to propogate (pilsner yeast in this case), we throw it in our yeast propagating tank, and over the course of a few days we continually add wort to “feed” it and facilitate yeast growth. To feed the pilsner yeast, we added Stone Pale Ale, Stone IPA, and Stone Imperial Russian Stout wort straight from the brewhouse into the yeast propogating tank over several days. Once we were confident that there was enough growth, we pumped the yeast off the bottom (lager yeast is bottom-fermenting) and sent it over to the fermenting tank to ferment the Collaboration brew. John then transferred the leftover beer into another tank, but before transferring it he had a spark of creativity and decided to add some crushed coriander, french oak chips, and “literally a handful” of chopped vanilla beans. It sat for about a week or so, and then we gassed it up and put it in kegs. There were no additional hops or malt added; it was just a blend of a few worts.

“As far as style goes, I have no idea,” said John. “It’s kind of a ‘suicide’ like we did as kids with our sodas; just a mix of whatever is available. It tastes like an ale to me, but it’s a lager—and a weird lager at that!” John added that the brew weighs in at 6.8% abv.

So there you have it. Now when you stumble across Stone Bombastic Lager on the tap list at Southern California Storm or on tap for growler fills in the Stone Company Store on May 15th and July 10th, you can wow your dumbfounded friends with your in-depth knowledge, complete with a healthy dose of bombast.

-Matt Steele

Washington Approves Stone's Pilsner Stimulus Plan


We know many of you are chomping at the bit for news about our collaboration brew, BrewDog / Cambridge / Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner, so we’ll throw you a bone. The brew is still fermenting, so we don’t have a release date yet (don’t worry, we’ll let you know the second we do!), but we do have some news about the bottle label. Jen Knudson, our talented graphic designer, just got word from the feds that the label design was approved and ready to rock!

Staying true to our collaboration bottle design motif, there are three versions, each dedicated to one of the three Brewmasters. Check em out below!

-Matt Steele

James' Bottle Notes

James' Label

Will's Bottle Notes

Will's Label

Mitch's Bottle Notes

Mitch's Label