Hop Homage: Stone Do These Hops Make My Beer Look Big IPA

We hold many things dear at Stone Brewing Co. High on that list of items held on-high are hops. They are the lush foundation on which some of our greatest successes have been forged. They rest ever-presently at the core of what we do and are largely what have helped us to stand out over the past 18-plus years. We love them every bit as much as you lupulin-craving nuts. So, when we were afforded the opportunity to construct a beer to honor this country’s hop growers, you best believe we took it very seriously!

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Each year, USA Hops holds the American Hop Convention. For 2015, they chose the our very own San Diego, California as the site of this gathering, which brings together the men and women responsible for cultivating the oil-rich botanical cones lending craft beer its piney, citrus and tropical fruit aromas, and resinous, bitter bite. This year, we lobbied to craft a special beer to commemorate the occasion, and were happy to be granted permission to pay homage to the individuals who so deftly and caringly nurture hops both traditional and experimental. In doing so, we leaned heavily on the latter, utilizing a hop that isn’t yet widely grown and is so new it doesn’t even have a name yet. While HBC 291 might not sound all that sexy, its variety of citrus, pineapple, melon, tropical fruit flavors and inherent herbaceous spice proved plenty alluring; enough that we felt justified focusing on it as the primary ingredient in Stone Do These Hops Make My Beer Look Big IPA.

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This small-run beer, which came in at 8.8% alcohol-by-volume and 65 on the International bittering unit scale, was handed out to all of the attendees of the 59th American Hop Convention. It was rewarding, not only to get to work with this virgin hop and brew up a brand new beer, but to get to share it with the folks who work so hard to provide us the magical ingredient we and our fans have come to love and associate with Stone beers. There was even a small amount of the beer left for us to put on tap at our Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens restaurants and on shelves at our Stone Company Stores so our fellow hop heads could get a taste. In the end, paying respect to hop growers via the fruits of their labor was just as much fun as the name we gave it, and using it to toast our industry allies was truly an honor.

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A Tribute to Hop Farmers from the Back of the Bottle

Can you imagine what Stone Brewing Co. would be like without hops? Neither can we! Those bright green, lupulin-rich cones are the cornerstone on which some of our most beloved beers—Stone IPA, Stone Go To IPA, Stone Ruination IPA, Stone Enjoy By IPA and lots more—were constructed. We’d like to think we’ve done as right by this bitter botanical as it has by us. Ditto the noble hop growers who’ve not only tilled the soil and tended the bines, but also forged ahead to breed new and exciting experimental hop varietals, many of which have charged to the head of the hoppy pack and found their way into some of the planet’s most coveted brews, including our own. So, it is with great pride that we crafted this one-time-only imperial IPA. But we’re Stone…double IPAs flow like water from our brewhouse. So what makes this one unique? Experimental hops! We dabbled with a number of new varietals, including the excitingly named HBC 291, which we brewed with for the very first time. It takes a heaping load of what-the-hell-let’s-go-for-it attitude to go full-brew with something so new, but fortunately, that’s something that flows like water around here, too. So enjoy this tribute to the almighty humulus lupulus. Get your nose in that glass and take in the complex assortment of vivid aromatic sensations in the bouquet, followed by flavors that are simultaneously citrus-like, foresty and altogether scrumptious. This gem proudly fits the bill as an IPA unique and special enough to serve as the official beer of the 2015 American Hop Convention…and the official IPA of you!

A Beer Befitting Its Name: Stone Delicious IPA

India pale ales are our bread-and-butter here at Stone. We love them as much as you do. Similarly, we get an immeasurable amount of satisfaction out of experimenting with new hop combinations to create IPAs with flavor profiles that vary from what we’ve thus far experienced. The arrival of Stone Delicious IPA provides a tangible example of why continual IPA and hop exploration are so fulfilling. With the new Lemondrop varietal as a centerpiece and a massive dry-hop comprised exclusively of lemony El Dorado hops from Washington State, this beer lives up to its name behind a plethora of tart, citrusy notes and a stunning grove-like, lemon tree bouquet, providing a graceful yet in no way subtle one-two punch to the senses. Our newest IPA is unique to our stable of beers in every way…including the fact it just so happens to be our first gluten-reduced offering.

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You read that right. In addition to being incredibly flavorful and hopped in our typically heavy-handed way, Stone Delicious IPA is also fermented in a manner that breaks down and removes gluten, rendering gluten levels so significantly that the beer qualifies as a “gluten-reduced” ale per the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). It’s a nice bonus that will allow nearly everyone out there to enjoy our bold style of craft beer—something we’ve always wanted but, up until the advent of this beer, haven’t been able to make happen. We’re excited to introduce our beers to those who haven’t yet had a Stone-brewed IPA, or perhaps even a craft beer of any kind. And for those of you who know all about our hoppy ales, we’re thrilled to provide a new one we’re particularly high on, reduced gluten levels or not.

For those for whom gluten is a concern, numerous questions are bound to spring to mind in regards to gluten-reduced craft beer. So, we’ve taken a stab at some of the more obvious queries Stone Delicious IPA is bound to evoke. Of course, if you still have questions, we’re happy to field them. Just shoot us an email at delicious@stonebrewing.com. Who knows, your question and our answer may even make it onto this FAQ page.

NOTE: The answers below exclusively refer to the bottled version of Stone Delicious IPA. For information on Stone Delicious IPA served on tap, please see the response specifically related to the draft version at the bottom of this FAQ.

How does Stone reduce the gluten levels in this beer?

We have colleagues at our long-time yeast supplier, White Labs to thank. It’s their enzyme, Clarity-Ferm, which makes Stone Delicious IPA possible. We start by brewing the beer exactly like we do every other beer at our brewery using all-natural ingredients (barley, hops, water and yeast, exclusively) with dashes of creativity and heart plus a boatload of hops. When boiled wort (unfermented beer) is transferred to fermentation tanks where yeast is introduced to convert fermentable sugars to alcohol, we add Clarity-Ferm, which separates and eliminates the potentially inflammatory nature of the gluten protein chains.

Does Stone Delicious IPA contain gluten?

Though we’ve harnessed modern advances to significantly reduce the amount of gluten, traces of gluten remain in Stone Delicious IPA. However, the amount of gluten in this beer is far below the Codex threshold of less than 20 parts per million in total gluten for “gluten-free” products; so much so that its gluten levels are too low to be measurable by available testing methods. Furthermore, the brewing process for Stone Delicious IPA renders the beer free of barley epitopes (peptide sequences and reactive sites in gluten molecules triggering negative reactions in the small intestine).

Where is Stone Delicious IPA brewed?

Currently, the beer is brewed at Stone’s flagship brewery in Escondido, a municipality in North San Diego County, California.

How do you prevent cross-contamination by Stone beers containing gluten?

We take numerous, specific steps to ensure there is no cross-contamination in our brewing or packaging facilities. We carefully clean and sanitize every tank, pipeline, hose and piece of equipment that Stone Delicious IPA will touch, and conduct numerous tests at our brewing facility checking for gluten levels.

How is Stone Delicious IPA tested for gluten?

The gluten testing is conducted by White Labs using an ELISA assay, the R5 competitive Gliadin assay from R-Biopharm. Yes, that is a mouthful, so allow us to further explain. The ELISA assay quantifies the prolamins from the wheat, rye and barley using an antibody that recognizes the potentially inflammatory sequence QQPFP, which occurs repeatedly in the prolamin molecules. This is the only method of gluten testing for products containing alcohol that is approved by the federal government.

Where can I see test results?

Each bottle of Stone Delicious IPA has both an “enjoy-by date” printed on its bottlenecks and a “julian date” laser-engraved on the bottom of each bottle. You can use either of these denotations to retrieve test results for the beer in your bottle by visiting the Stone Delicious IPA webpage and viewing a PDF of the White Labs report corresponding to those numbers.

Delicious_JulianEnjoyBy2Does Stone utilize any barley malt alternatives to brew this beer?

No. We do not replace the barley malt we use for our other beers with rice, quinoa, sorghum, buckwheat or any other grains.

Where can I purchase Stone Delicious IPA?

Stone Delicious IPA is distributed to every state where Stone beers are sold, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The best way to locate retail accounts where Stone Delicious IPA is sold by consulting our online Stone Beer Finder.

If I find Stone Delicious IPA on tap, can I expect it to be at the same gluten levels as the bottled version?

Because the draft accounts where we distribute our kegged beer would have to basically have independent dedicated lines via which to serve Stone Delicious IPA—something that isn’t feasible for the majority of bars and restaurants—the beer will likely be served from lines that have previously served non-gluten-reduced beer. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that the gluten levels of the beer will be the same when served in such a manner. While the beer in the keg is the same as the beer in the bottles, there is always the chance that it could mix with previously served beers in the lines of the draft system and, thus, become intermingled with beer containing gluten. To be safe and ensure the health of those with greater gluten sensitivity, we similarly do not make the gluten-reduced claim for Stone Delicious IPA served from draft systems and growler fill stations at Stone-operated facilities (Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens and Stone Brewing TapRoom restaurants, Stone Farms or Stone Company Stores). It is best to purchase Stone Delicious IPA in bottles if you are gluten sensitive.

Will Stone brew other beers with lowered gluten levels?

There are no current plans to brew more gluten-reduced beers, but years of brewing experimentation have taught us never to say never when it comes to craft beer!

A Year of Beer: Summing Up 2014

Each year we up the number of beers we brew, and each year it seems like we can’t do any more than we already have. Yet, each year we prove ourselves wrong! In 2014, we shattered our previous record of 74 brews with an epic 120 beers. From the tried-and-true, to the boundary-pushing, it was a big year in our brewhouse. But it didn’t end with a jam-packed brew schedule. Between all these releases we planned five festivals and countless fundraisers to reinvest some love into to the community. So reminisce with us about a year that brought us amazing craft beer, thrilling times and monumental developments.

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Hopsploitation: Getting the Most Out of Our Hops

We’re obsessed with hops and all the bitter, fruity, resinous, tropical flavors they can bring to beer. These little buds are amazing in and of themselves, but the work that goes into making those characteristics shine is just as impressive. From the kettle and far beyond, we’re breaking down the magic of getting the most out of our hops and pushing those IBUs ever higher.

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Cream of the Crop: 2014 Hop Selection

The grassy perfume of freshly collected hops, rolling hills flush with lush greenery for as far as the eye can see, Mount Adams looming majestically on the horizon—this is what dreams are made of. Well, this is what dreams are made of if you are a craft beer fan reading the Stone Blog; a lupulin-hankering hophead unabashed in their love of bold, botanically driven India pale ales. We get it and we understand. There were plenty of moony, slack-jawed looks on the faces of Stone brewers who recently made the annual pilgrimage to Yakima, Washington to partake in the holiest of brewing industry traditions—hop selection. This is where we get our first look at the year’s bounty and make decisions that will affect our ability to brew the unapologetically profound ales that, like those hops, you’ve come to crave.

Constants & Variables: The Lupulin Loop

As the Brewing Manager at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station. I would like to introduce a new series of beers that will rotate through our central San Diego brewery-restaurant. We at Stone make no secret of our love for hops and are always pushing the boundaries with beer experimentations—especially when it comes to hops. For years, we’ve played with multiple hop varieties, and the impact to our IPAs has been immense. One may ask, with so many hop varieties out there, how we do we continue to develop so many new and successful IPAs? Truth is it’s never as easy as throwing a bunch of hops into our wort and crossing our fingers. Every hop is different, unique and complex with a wide range of flavors and aromas that could be compared to fruits, spices and even vegetables. We spend a lot of time getting intimately acquainted with the myriad of hops in our chilled down lockers, and now it’s time for our fans to get in on that familiarization.

Enter what I have come to refer to as, “The Lupulin Loop.” Why the Lupulin Loop? Maybe I just watched Groundhog’s Day too much as a kid. Maybe it’s because Tom Cruise just came out with that movie Edge of Tomorrow. Or maybe I’m still trying to play through Bioshock Infinite and I learned that when Elizabeth goes through the tears she goes to another dimension where everything looks the same but it’s actually different. Regardless, it’s all about constants and variables. With these beers, they’ll always have the same malts, alcohol, IBU (international bittering units), PH, color…or as close to the same as I can possibly get them. The only thing that will change in the beer is the single variety of hop being used (even for bittering). The base of the beer is the constant (the loop), while the hop (Lupulin…the compound in hops that provides that addictive bitterness we all love) is the sole variable.

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Hoppy Uncharted Territory: Stone 18th Anniversary IPA

We pride ourselves on being unpredictable, but we’re able to be honest with ourselves and say that, when it comes to our annual anniversary beer releases, fans know what to expect—something extremely hoppy! And most years, that means an over-the-top India pale ale. Ten out of the 17 anniversary beers we’ve produced to-date have been IPAs, including the past four consecutive years. So, it should come as no surprise that this year, our milestone-celebrating beer is another IPA. But, much as we’ve refused to be completely predictable with our anniversary IPAs (the past four years have featured an imperial British-style IPA, double black IPA, lemon verbena-infused imperial rye IPA, and 100% German-hopped double IPA), 2014’s commemorative hop monster is extremely original. In fact, we’re billing Stone 18th Anniversary IPA as the “hoppiest golden-brown IPA on Earth!” (Yes, that’s our subtle brand of sarcasm you’re picking up there!)

Crank It Up: Kyle Hollingsworth / Keri Kelli / Stone Collective Distortion IPA

Our new double India pale ale, Kyle Hollingsworth / Keri Kelli / Stone Collective Distortion IPA recently wrapped up a whirlwind, coast-to-coast pre-release tour. Considering this fruity and pleasantly earthy brew’s rock star status, it seemed fitting to afford it the touring band treatment its co-creators are used to. That duo consists of The String Cheese Incident keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth and guitarist Keri Kelli of Alice Cooper and Skid Row fame. Together, like savants providing a reliable backbeat for a most magnificent jam session, the duo guided us toward the recipe for this neo-traditional beer. The hop bill consists of Calypso, Comet and Nugget hops, given staccato-esque punctuation thanks to healthy dry-hopping with Vic’s Secret, a recently introduced hop from Australia. But anybody can come up with an out-there (or Down Under) assemblage of hops. What turns this already blaring imperial IPA up to 11 is spicing from coriander seeds and—a first for us—elderberries. It’s unlike any IPA we’ve ever made…and we’ve made a lot of IPAs!

Hop Bursted: Stone Go To IPA

Stone makes nine year-round beers. For most brewing companies, that’d be enough, especially when you add in the massive number of specialty beers, collaborative ales and other cool non-year-round stuff we cram into the brew schedule. But we’re not most brewing companies. We know that the face of American craft beer is constantly evolving, and with it, the tastes of beer drinkers across the nation. While we’ll never follow trends (but will absolutely do our darndest to start a few), it’s important to keep our eyes, ears and palates open to what our fans desire, and we’d have to be blind, deaf and dumb (in the literal sense) to fail to see beer fans’ love of session India pale ales. They’re popping up everywhere as folks look for lower-alcohol beers delivering the poignant flavors of imperial IPAs. There’s definitely a plethora of modern day scenarios and a need for lighter ABV brews. These served as the impetus for brewing our Great American Beer Festival gold medal-winning session beer, Stone Levitation Ale in 2006. But beer lovers cannot survive on amber ales alone—even if they are intensely hoppy and just 4.4% ABV—so we spent much of 2013 working on several recipes for our very own session IPA, and now, that fruity, piney, altogether hoppy newcomer, Stone Go To IPA, will be available to fulfill your big flavor sans overwhelming ABV needs all year long.

Stone RuinTen IPA…You’re Welcome (Again!)

Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA—the mere mention of these five words (well, four words and an acronym, which technically equates to seven words) incites a Pavlovian brand of salivation among those who quest for maximum hoppage. We know this, not only because last year’s decadal release of this amped-up tribute to our double India pale ale, Stone Ruination IPA, gave us cause to wear bibs at work, but because Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA was so openly and vocally beloved by our fan base, that they requested—check that, demanded—it be brought back on an annual basis. We love our fans. We love hops. So, we listened to the former, secured a boatload of the latter, and now submit for the approval of slobbering masses throughout the country, Stone RuinTen IPA.