Stone the top rated beer brewed in the UK. Wait, what?

Matt Steele
Bryon Wischstadt, our beloved IT Director, recently stumbled upon a surprising tidbit on Ratebeer.com. He was perusing some of the ranking lists when he came across the Best Beers of Britain page. On the top of the list in the number one slot was “Stone California Double IPA.” Understandably, his first reaction was—“Wait, what!?”

Best Beers of Britain

Best Beers of Britain

Ok, so this link is a little old, but it missed our radar when it was fresh. You can find the latest link here (sans Stone California Double IPA, since it’s now a retired beer). But for a fleeting moment, we were in the number one spot for beers brewed in Britain in 2008. How the hell did that happen? Let me explain.

Steve and Mitch enjoying a beer at Shepherd Neame. Read Steve's notes from last year's e-mail nesletter.

Steve and Mitch enjoying a beer at a tour room bar at Fullers. The man behind the bar is Fullers brewer Derek Prentice. Click on the photo above to read Steve's notes from the 2008 Stone email newsletter.

Last March, Great Britain’s JD Wetherspoons pub group held the world’s largest Real Ale Festival and decided it just wouldn’t be complete without a style known to hop heads as the “West Coast IPA.” So who did they turn to to brew this hoppy masterpiece?  You guessed it—our very own Brewmaster Steve Wagner and Head Brewer Mitch Steele. Stringent international importing regulations and a mountain of paperwork, however, made getting the beer across the Pond rather tricky. Luckily, some very wise minds decided, “if we can’t import the beer, why not import the brewers?” So Steve and Mitch scored the trip of a lifetime and brewed a special batch of Stone California Double IPA at the oldest operating brewery in the UK, Shepherd Neame in Kent.

Mitch with talented former Stone brewer, Toshi Ishii. After leaving Stone, Toshi founded Yo-Ho Brewing Co. in Tokyo. He contributed Japan's first Real Ale to the festival, Yo-Ho Tokyo Black Real Ale.

Mitch with talented former Stone brewer, Toshi Ishii. After leaving Stone, Toshi founded Yo-Ho Brewing Co. in Tokyo. He contributed Japan's first marketed Real Ale to the festival, Yo-Ho Tokyo Black Real Ale.

The beer was an instant hit. In fact, they sold out of the beer so fast that they forgot to save us a keg to serve at our Stone Company Picnic. We were flattered by its popularity, but we would have liked to taste it ourselves! Nevertheless, we’re proud to have once laid claim to the number one beer brewed in the UK, even if it was only for a brief time (and the result of an unlikely technicality).

-Matt Steele

Brewing Stone 08.08.08 Vertical Epic Ale at Home

Our seventh version of the Vertical Epic series was inspired by some of the wonderful Belgian beers that Steve and I tasted during our trips to Europe to brew “Stone California Double IPA” at the Shepherd-Neame brewery in Kent, England. This ale was served at the J.D. Wetherspoons pub chain during their International Real Ale Fest in March of 2008, and was great to brew and a very fun project, but that’s another story.

Brussels is about a 2 hour train ride from London (going through the “Chunnel”) so one weekend while we were in England, we decided to shift gears from our steady diet of cask-conditioned English Ales and make the quick trip to Belgium. We had many great beers during the 2 day visit, as well as nice tours of Palm Brewery and Cantillon. And don’t ever miss the Belga Café in Brussels-the hand pumped Boon Gueuze was unbelievable! One of the best beers we had was a rare bottle given to us by Glenn Payne, one of our companions for the trip. We brought this bottle of Duvel Triple Hop back to Escondido with us and Steve and I tasted it with Greg and John Egan, and pretty much decided right then and there to brew a hoppy Belgian Golden for our 2008 Epic.