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…)
Hopheads, you’re officially on the clock! You’ve got 35 days to uncap and savor the abundantly fresh hoppiness of Stone Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA. But before you start grousing about being given the directive to consume your beer (at this point, it’s good to realize that there is absolutely nothing to complain about here), know this—we’re not the ones with the death-grip on the stopwatch. This quite literal “deadline” has been decreed by the ancient Mayan civilization.
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.
Alas, the 2009 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is over. All 495 competing breweries have packed their beers and headed home, some with shiny pieces of bling dangling from their necks (or if you’re Jeff Bagby, A LOT of bling), others sans bling but with the bolstered pride that comes from wowing thousands of beer fans with their delicious creations. Ken Schmidt happened to be part of the latter camp, and although he didn’t win in the Pro-Am Competition at the GABF, he came away with his head held high from the insane buzz that Ken Schmidt/Maui/Stone Kona Coffee, Macadamia, Coconut Porter generated. He called me during the fest to relay the results of the Pro-Am and left this message:
Just like at the Stone 13th Anniversary Celebration and Invitational Beer Festival, Ken Schmidt/Maui/Stone Kona Coffee, Macadamia, Coconut Porter was the object of bountiful adoration. It was the first keg to blow at the Pro-Am table, and it generated the longest lines. Ken said that he had a blast competing in the GABF, but it was only part of the exhilarating journey that began with his victory at our homebrewing competition back in March. “Competing in the Pro-Am Competition at the GABF was thrilling,” Ken said, “but being chosen by my brewing peers and the panel of eight from Stone (to help brew the Pro-Am selection with Stone) holds the greatest excitement for me. It has been a wonderful journey.”
We anticipate our next AHA Rally and homebrewing competition will be some time in March. Sign up for our homebrewing email newsletter for updates. When I talked to Ken on Monday, he said that he’s already brainstorming some more special brews to share. If they’re anything like his Aloha Plenty, we’ll be giddily awaiting their appearance.
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!
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!
As you may already know, we’ll be expanding distribution into the incredibly lucky state of Connecticut near the end of September. The fair people of the Constitution State will soon be enjoying our sweet, hoppy nectar and dancing in the streets, rejoicing in their shared good fortune while poor, unfortunate beer geeks in Stone-deprived states will continue to languish in their cosmic misfortune, shaking their fists at the sky and wondering why the beer gods have forsaken them thusly. If you find yourself in the latter, ill-fated camp, let us explain how we choose new areas to distribute in so that you’re no longer doomed to a life of pleading for our beer over email, facebook and Twitter (yes, we hear you MO!), forever uninformed and feeling perpetually slighted. Believe it or not, it’s slightly more complicated than a coin toss or “eenie meenie miny moe” (slightly).
It all depends on three main factors. The first and foremost consideration is a no-brainer: Can we make enough beer? Usually the answer is no, because we’re busy trying to brew enough beer for our current areas of distribution. Sure, we’ve experienced ridiculously explosive growth since we opened our doors in 1996, but even with two new fermenters coming in and another building in the plans, we’re still hard-pressed to meet demand for our beer in our present territories. What can we say? We have thirsty fans…
The second consideration is that of demand. We have to ask ourselves if a new territory harbors sufficient demand for our beer, not only among fanatical beer geeks and hop-heads, but also retailers. Without considerable longing from both camps, expansion into a new territory is simply not wise. You see, we need steady turnover for our year-round fresh beers. Without that, our beers might sit waiting for the knowledgeable beer buyer just a little too long on the shelves.
The third and final variable is an acceptable distribution option. We need a wholesaler who 1) understands great beer, 2) is knowledgeable about how to sell great beer, 3) knows how to take care of great beer, 4) has the proper infrastructure to get it to all the great retailers in their region that would like to stock Stone.
Now for the question we always get: Do we ship directly to homes? No, we don’t—but dry up those tears and spare us the hate mail, because you have a few options. Below is a list of people who CAN ship you some Arrogance right to your doorstep:
- Hi Time Wine Cellar (800-331-3005)
- Liquid Solutions (503-496-1942)
- Bottle Trek (1-866-503-9049)
- Beer on the Wall (1-888-840-BEER)
- Arctic Liquor (877-817-9463)
- Holiday Wine Cellar (760-745-1200)
- South Bay Drug & Liquor (619-424-5164)
These places will usually send a decent selection of our beers to MOST states. Keep in mind that many states prohibit the shipping of beer from out of state, and as such, are typically not on the “eligibility list” for many of these shippers. State laws are complex and change frequently, so some may ship where others will not and vice versa.
The bottom line is, we’ll get to your state eventually. Maybe. As long as we’re able to meet the above parameters. Although we may not have immediate plans to invade your state, we have heard your cries for help. In the meantime, do your best to advocate craft beer. Supporting your local craft breweries, requesting better beer from retailers, and helping to convert others is the fastest way to get the choices you want. Until then…CHEERS!
- Matt Steele
The Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale is a bit of departure from the last two Stone Vertical Epic Ale editions, which were golden in color. The newest one can best be described as a Belgian style Imperial Porter. The beer is deep brown, with intense roasted character provided by chocolate malt.
During the brewing process, we also added dark candi sugar, vanilla bean, and tangerine peel to complement the flavors of the porter. The vanilla bean addition is fascinating, as it actually enhances the chocolate character from the roasted malts, and the candi sugar adds a nice hint of molasses flavor to the finish. The tangerine actually turned out to be quite subtle on the finish (and didn’t impart as much of an orange flavor as we reported earlier), and combines nicely with the chocolate malt character. We aged this beer on French Oak chips, which contributes a smooth and subtle woody undertone and even more vanilla flavors.
All in all the Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale is a very complex beer, the flavors evolve and develop as the beer warms in your glass, making the enjoyment of it a very fun and delicious experience!
This beer pours deep brown with a thick, frothy, creamy head of tan foam.
Many layers, starting off with chocolate and coffee from the chocolate malt, and vanilla notes from both the vanilla bean and French Oak. A balanced oak flavor comes through in the mix. As the beer warms, the influence of the Belgian yeast is more evident, as tropical fruit and spice flavors become more pronounced.
Begins with chocolate roast malt character and vanilla. The vanilla accentuates the chocolate nicely. Layered in are banana esters, and hints of clove, and then the finish is a bit stronger on the oak with hints of molasses and citrus from the tangerine peel.
Medium body, very complex, and finishes very smooth. The 8.6% alcohol is not overly evident, and the flavors blend together nicely.
A delicious, complex beer. It should age nicely over the next three years, and the flavors should continue to meld together wonderfully.
Editor’s Note: Look out for Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale on September 9, 2009, and check the website for the latest info.