Thanks to Stone Enjoy By IPA and our hop-forward brewing style, our brewery is viewed as a vocal proponent of the drink-fresh-beer-now movement. That’s fitting. We believe in that big time—when it’s appropriate. At the same time, we’re not above taking a quality brew (even an IPA) and aging it in oak barrels if we think we can morph that fine ale into an other-worldly, delicious, wine- or spirit-laced concoction. Such is the modus operandi behind our Quingenti Millilitre line of barrel-aged Stone beers.
It took just a few short hours after the big keg drop at the Stone New Year’s Celebration for us to get to work planning another big year at our Southern California digs. After a few weeks of scheming, tweaking, revising and fine-tuning, we’re ready to share our entire schedule of momentous events that will come to pass at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens* in 2013! Get out your calendar and prepare to “X” out a great many dates. See you soon!
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!
They say all good things come to an end. And as much as it pains me to admit it, I think they’re right. Unfair? Absolutely! Especially while some of the most awful atrocities refuse to go away. (Can you believe that Kenny G is still churning out new CDs?)
But enough about the bad. Let’s focus on the good… the REALLY good. I’m talkin bout Stone Vertical Epic Ale. Travel back in time with me to February 2nd, 2002, before someone inexplicably thought to give Dr. Phil his own show when the groundbreaking Stone 02.02.02 Vertical Epic Ale came to be. The premise was visionary, and hadn’t ever been tried with beer before. Eleven beers in total—each one with its own unique twist and turn in the saga—were to be released one year, one month, and one day after the previous edition (i.e. 03.03.03, 04.04.04, etc.), with the intention of aging them all until at least December 12, 2012, when the series would officially draw to an end with its final delicious release: Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale.
Did a little light go off in your brain to make you look at your calendar just now? You’re right, that is, like, two months away! So, what are we planning to do? Go gentle into that good night? Hell naw! We’re Stone! And as usual, we’ve got BIG plans…
A few weeks ago, we hosted a pretty sweet Google+ hangout all about our awesome collaboration beer that we recently re-brewed: Dogfish Head / Victory / Stone Saison du BUFF. Our very own Greg Koch joined Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione and moderator Wil Wheaton for a live video broadcast devoted to that very subject. (Victory’s Bill Covaleski was unfortunately plagued by technical difficulties. Bummer.)
Well, besides having a great time chatting and drinking beer, Wil at one point asked if it would be possible for us to share the homebrew recipe for Saison du BUFF. While Greg and Sam discussed it, I reminded Greg from off-camera that it was already available, courtesy of our amazing book: The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance! </plug> And that we’d also of course be more than glad to share it on our blog.
No secret that school gets back in session for most of the country about now. No matter if you are a student yourself, or have kids going to school, you could not have possibly missed annual barrage of Back to School ads, promos, sales, and such. You know, the annual tradition that begins barking to us in the dog days of August as an unwelcome reminder that in a few preciously short more weeks summer will be drawing to a close. August also, oddly, seems to spawn forth the release of seasonal (?) pumpkin beers, which at this point have already been on the shelves for several weeks. But the process of getting them there started much, much earlier.
With an average brewing time presumably in the 2-3 week range, after which they are then stockpiled and sent to wholesalers around the country to eventually hit retailers’ shelves by—in some seasonally-challenged instances—early- to mid- August. That means that while you were only a month or so into your summer tan and more concerned with your beer-geek friends critiquing you for pouring your local brewery’s summer wheat into a freezer-kept mug (after all, it’s so damn hot today right? Well, I actually agree with them…), your favorite pumpkin ale brewer was taking delivery of massive loads of pumpkin and working on their posters reading “Get Yours Today!!” (complete with fallen leaves, dried cornstalks and other autumnal imagery that Mother Nature will be catching up with three months later).
It’s the way of the world. Hell, I remember one summer many many years ago in Los Angeles I was dating a girl that was a personal assistant to Neil Diamond, and I recall her bemoaning that she was growing sick of hearing the Christmas songs he was working on recording for his upcoming holiday release. (Never mind that Neil is Jewish; I thought the end result was a great effort.) And y’know, I never have really forgiven myself for not taking at least enough advantage of that previous relationship to swing by the offices for a pic and an autograph.
Anywho. While you were diving into the pool / lake / river / ocean / sprinklers / hydrant in the middle of the summer, your fall sweaters are receiving their final stitching in China and Bangladesh. Or thereabouts.
But I digress. We were talking about Back to School, which, as I haven’t managed to get to yet but will now, reminded me of my relatively recent commencement speech I gave to the 2012 graduating class at Cuyamaca College just a few short months ago. Why would anyone ask me to give a Commencement speech one might reasonably ask? Well, the previous spring I’d been invited to give an environmental keynote to a Green Business Symposium that was being held on the campus, and I guess they liked my message. And delivery. I’d hoped they did, but I admittedly get a little bombastic at times, especially if it’s a topic that I care about, and I was pretty certain that I was either going to eventually get invited to give another talk perhaps, or politely asked never to set foot on campus again. Fortunately it was the former, but I hadn’t expected to get elevated to Commencement-delivery status. I was honored. And gave an enthusiastic Yes!
But what would I say to a group of students about to head out into the quote-unquote “real world”? As I contemplated my own graduation some 25 years previous (not that I can even recall who gave my university’s commencement or any of the words of wisdom that they gave unfortunately), I tried to think about what I wish I’d been told when I was handed my degree, and the pen just couldn’t stop flowing. The proverbial pen, that is. I actually used my laptop, as I am now.
Anyway, I think I did OK, if I may say so myself. And I really enjoyed getting a chance to share my thoughts and perspectives with the young and not-so-young minds (Cuyamaca is quite delightfully diverse, with graduating students from the 2012 class ranging from a brilliant 18 year old, and an equally-inspiriational-but-in-a-different-way octogenarian gearing up to take their next step. Since then, I’ve seen some nice feedback from a snippet of my speech that was posted by the college, and I thought, well heck! Why not share my thoughts with the world? Or at least the thin slice of the world that’s represented by you, my dear readers.
Yes, some people might disagree or scrunch their noses at some of my suggestions, but that’s alright as it’s quite impossible to say anything that’s worth saying at all without at least a modest percentage of scrunched noses… so if you feel inclined, please do scrunch away. While I may not agree with the scrunching of your nose, I will defend to the death your right to scrunch it. Or something. No matter. I wrote it for those who, like me, are rarely satisfied with the status quo… those who are always looking for ways to innovate, improvise, and improve along the way. If you’re of that cloth, feel free to read on. And if you’re not, you may benefit from reading it most.
So, without further delay, mention of sweaters, Christmas albums from Jewish singers, August onslaughts of pumpkin beers, or other asides, here is the text of my 2012 Cuyamaca College Commencement Speech:
Just like the universe, we’re expanding. All the time. You may recall from our big announcements back in May 2011 that we were embarking on a $50M+ expansion plan to include several new adventures including: Stone Farms, Stone Catering, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, and arguably the coolest of all, the Stone Hotel. While some of those super sweet items have already been completed and others (like the Liberty Station restaurant and hotel) have been slightly delayed, we’re very excited to announce that ground has officially been broken on the brand new Stone Packaging Hall!
So what does that mean for you? Simple: MORE BEER. You see, we’ve been working ’round the clock to get our new 120bbl brewhouse installed next to our current one, but it’s displaced quite a few fermentation tanks. The bottom line? We’re running out of room!
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.
Remember when we came out with that badass collaboration beer? What’s that? Oh, which one, you ask? Yes, of course. We should be more specific, as they’ve all been pretty unbelievable. (And we’re totally allowed to brag this hard because there were other brilliant brewers involved, so please consider this our way of supremely complimenting them… while giving ourselves just a little pat on the back.)
Annnnnnyway, so as you may recall, in 2010, we released Dogfish Head / Victory / Stone Saison du BUFF, a hellaciously herbaceous beer that we–and countless others–fell in love with instantly.
Did you hear that we wrote a book? It’s called The Craft of Stone Brewing: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance.
We bet you hadn’t heard that, which is why we’re sending our demonstrative CEO & Co-Founder Greg Koch on a 9-city book tour. That’s right, Greg & his face are coming to your town, assuming you live in one of the selected 9 cities east of the Mississippi.
What will Greg do on this book tour, you ask? Well, lots of things, but he’ll be talking a lot about exactly how Stone morphed from a tiny two person operation into one of fastest growing, most widely known craft breweries in the world, all while maintaining a fierce commitment to business ethics and the principles our founders hold dear.
So what exactly can the lucky folks who attend these events expect? Well, we’ve selected a veritable potpourri of venues, so it depends on which one(s) you go to.
- If you choose to attend one of Greg’s talks at a university, you’ll hear about the history of Stone, his entrepreneurial philosophy, and the secrets to the company’s success.
- If you attend one of his events at a bookstore, you’ll get to meet Greg, have the opportunity to get your photo taken with him (instant holiday card material), and get your beloved copy of our tome signed by him.
- And finally, if you attend one of his events at a bar, you can expect an absolutely stellar selection of Stone beers, the opportunity to share a beer with said CEO, hear his stump speech, catch him as he dives off the bar, get a temporary tattoo of his screaming visage affixed to your person, and have a generally joyful time.
Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing at every event. That may also be true of the temporary tattoo thing.
So check out the handy interactive map on our book tour website and see if your city has been selected as one of the lucky hosts. Regardless of whether or not it has, we highly recommend that you stop whatever you’re doing and attend all of them. Dedicated “roadies” will receive additional temporary tattoos and inscrutable words of wisdom.