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For eons the sun has perched brightly in the sky casting nurturing rays of light, heating our quaint little blue globe and making life possible. But every once in a while, we begrudge our beloved burning ball of gas for ruining the one thing many of us love most in life—BEER.

Yes it’s true; UV light can skunk even the stoutest beers. Most astute brewers and beer drinkers are well aware of this, and take preventative measures to reduce the amount of light that penetrates their beer. If you’ve taken one of our brewery tours, you’ve no doubt heard us lambaste the ill effects of UV light on beer, making a point to mention that, unlike some breweries, we use dark brown bottles to counter this effect. While we do safeguard our beer against UV light, we actually embrace light (specifically sunlight) in another, more practical way. How’s that? Two words: Solar Array.

Our 276.9-kilowatt AC Photovaltaic Solar Array. Beautiful, huh?

Back in February 2008 we had a 276.9-kilowatt AC photovoltaic solar panel system installed on the roof of our building. The $2.6 million dollar system includes 1,561 200-Watt Photo-Voltaic Modules, and produces about 30% of our brewery’s total electricity.

Rob Marshal

Although our system has a 331-kilowatt capacity, the amount of energy generated varies day to day, depending heavily on weather patterns and the amount of dirt build-up on the panels. Even with these minor limitations, our solar panels generate an impressive amount of energy. Rob Marshal, our IT Analyst, keeps track of our solar array data, and he provided me with all the juicy numbers.

Construction on our solar panels completed in May 2008, but they weren’t operational until June 2008, and they weren’t fully online until September 2008. With that in mind, our solar panels generated 243,393 kWh (Kilowatt Hours) of energy in all of 2008. The panels have generated a grand total of 316,146 kWh over the past six months.

A screen shot from Rob's computer.

The most power that our solar panels have ever generated in one day is 1,739 kWh. That was back on September 2, 2008, an arguably sunny day. To give you some perspective, at that rate we could generate 10,656 kWh in one week, which would power the average American household for an entire year. Even more impressive, our panels generated 95,390 kWh during the entire month of September, 2008. On the other hand, cloudier, drearier months like February see a drastic dip in energy production. The panels generated 29,680 kWh in February, averaging only 1,060 kWh a day. This is a direct result of meager sunlight and dirt buildup over the lifespan of the panels.

Less stellar numbers for a gloomy San Diego February

Less stellar numbers for a gloomy February in San Diego

While solar power can be incredibly effective, it isn’t exactly the infallible cure-all for our planet’s energy woes. As mentioned earlier, it’s overly dependent upon clear weather, and dirt buildup is problematic. Not only is it time-consuming and costly to clean the panels, but the run-off doesn’t meet storm drainage standards, and we’re still working on a solution to this environmental catch 22. As you know, going solar requires a significant initial investment that may not start paying off for many years. In our case, we won’t start reaping the benefits for about 6-8 years. However, we’ve decided that the long-term benefits will far outweigh the initial cost.

According to Hamann Construction, our system is one of the largest in the state, placing in the top 12% of solar systems in California, but we’re not the only brewery rectifying the once rocky relationship between beer and the sun. Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, California, recently installed a 1.3-megawatt solar power system which provides about 34% of their brewery’s power.

As our industry continues to battle the dangers of dirty energy, breweries are exploring options beyond solar power to reduce their carbon footprint. Harpoon Brewery in Boston, for example, is taking advantage of the trend among utility companies to pay breweries for relieving stress on their grid by using less power. Making such seemingly minor changes as using more efficient light bulbs and installing light reflecting mirrors has saved them money and lifted some of the burden off of their local utility company. Measures like this, along with a myriad of government incentive programs, are making clean energy more attainable for small breweries.

Of course, we had our fair share of help. Harnessing the power of the sun wouldn’t be possible without assistance from a few upstanding organizations. The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), a government program that offers incentives to homes and businesses for going solar, facilitated our participation in the California Solar Initiative (CSI), which was pivotal in assuring the financial feasibility of the project. Bank of America, with their innovative financing for green energy projects also played a crucial role. Lastly, our contractors Borrego Solar Systems, Inc. and Hamann Construction both did a fantastic job, and we’re very satisfied with the end result.

Our push for clean energy represents another step towards sustainable design, which was our goal from the beginning. Our solar array, along with other conservation initiatives at our brewery and restaurant, helps us make great beer with minimal impact on the environment. Thankfully, we’re not alone. We’re proud to be part of an industry that is leading the charge for sustainable energy and environmentally responsible business practices.

-Matt Steele

Beer & Chocolate Pairing: Someone has to do it…


Beer and chocolate are two of my favorite things on the planet. If you asked me to define myself in one sentence, the words beer and chocolate would probably be in there somewhere. So you can imagine my dismay when I was burdened with the arduous task of helping pair Stone beer with the innovative artisinal offerings of Eclipse Chocolat for our Beer & Chocolate Pairing event on May 3rd. But I’m not one to complain. Rather than drag my feet and mope about the daunting task ahead of me, I decided to tackle it head-on and get it over with, and so did my equally apprehensive compatriots, Beer & Chocolate Host Ken Wright and Brewer Jeremy Moynier.

Eclipse Chocolat

Eclipse Chocolat

We arrived at Eclipse late in the afternoon, just as rush hour traffic was rearing its ugly head on El Cajon Boulevard. Immediately upon entering the reasonably populated, pleasantly decorated dessert cafe, we were greeted by Chocolatier Extraordinaire Will Gustwiller, the Owner of Eclipse Chocolat. After exchanging customary introductions, we tended to the irksome job before us.

The first piece of chocolate that Will offered us was one of his first creations—a Lavender Sea-Salted Caramel truffle. This creamy milk chocolate delicacy is Eclipse’s most popular truffle, and it’s easy to see why. After striking out with Stone Levitation Ale, we decided to pair it with Stone IPA. Success. The prevailing salt and herbal notes of the truffle harmonized beautifully with the citrusy, hoppy bite of Stone IPA. We were off to a promising start.

Chili-burnt Caramel Truffle

Chili-burnt Caramel Truffle

Next up was Will’s Chili-burnt Caramel Truffle, a chili-infused dark chocolate truffle with a subtle, delayed spicy note. Will warned us that this would be the most difficult truffle to pair, due to its overwhelming flavor profile. We promptly assured him that we rarely encounter food capable of smothering the bold flavors of our beers, but sure enough, we were wrong. The truffle overwhelmed several of our beers before we finally stumbled upon a winner. The long-lasting bitter finish of Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout was the only heavy-hitting flavor that could stand up to the prolonged chili spice of the truffle. When the ooh’s and ahh’s subsided, they were replaced by talk of using this pairing as the finale of the pairing on May 3rd. And for good reason.

Balsamic Pink Peppercorn Truffle

Balsamic Pink Peppercorn Truffle

The next truffle, Will’s Balsamic Pink Peppercorn truffle, was a definite departure from the previous offerings. If you’re thinking of the slight spicy flavor found in commercial peppercorn dressings and such, think again. Will uses actual fresh peppercorns for the filling of this truffle, resulting in an earthy sweet flavor that is enhanced by raspberry balsamic vinegar sweetened dark chocolate. Double Bastard Ale and Stone Cali-Belgique IPA weren’t a match, but we eventually found the right supplement. The smoky, roasted barley note and strong hop finish of Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale proved a perfect mate for the unique truffle.

At this point our spirits were low as the backbreaking labor began to take its toll, but somehow we mustered the strength and determination to persist. Will introduced the next delicacy, a Black Sesame Anise truffle, and we valiantly resumed. This dark chocolate ganache-infused creation comes packed with anise seed and star anise, and is topped with toasted black sesame seeds. Again we tried to pair it with Stone Levitation Ale, along with a few other Stone beers, all to no avail. At last we found a champion in the form of Stone Cali-Belgique IPA. The dense fruity note of the Belgian Yeast provided the perfect contrast to the bittersweet anise and the toasty sesame seeds.

The next chocolate was met with desperate cries for mercy as the unceasing consumption of gourmet chocolate and delicious craft beer began to erode our morale, but the painful ordeal was almost over. We knew that once we found a pairing with Will’s Macadamia Ginger White Chocolate, we could go home. So we found one in the form of 2009 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine. The sweet tang of the lemon sang in perfect harmony with Old Guardian’s hoppy finish, and the ginger in the chocolate worked opposite of the bold barley presence of the barley wine. And for all of you who think white chocolate isn’t real chocolate, let there be no mistake. White chocolate is indeed chocolate if it has real cocoa butter in it. Many commercially available white chocolates opt for vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter because it’s significantly cheaper. Will does no such thing. His white chocolate is the real deal.

Stone Brewer Jeremy Moynier (left), Tour Guide Kathryn Bouscaren, and Beer & Chocolate Host Ken Wright (right) hard at work

Stone Brewer Jeremy Moynier (left), Tour Guide Kathryn Bouscaren, and Beer & Chocolate Host Ken Wright (right) hard at work

But alas, there was more! Will cemented his standing as a wizard of chocolate with his last delicacy—a Banana Rum Cigar truffle. Will explained that he deftly weaved actual cigar leaf into this rare truffle, immediately dropping our jaws and leaving us mystified. Unfortunately, the Valentine’s Day rush depleted Will’s inventory, and he didn’t have enough of this spectacular truffle to finish the pairing. Thankfully, he offered to send us more so we could finish the pairing here at the brewery. So let it be known that there will be a surprise pairing in store for you on May 3rd, should you choose to attend Beer & Chocolate.

Eclipse Chocolat Owner, Will Gustwiller, now the proud owner of leftover Stone beer

Eclipse Chocolat Owner, Will Gustwiller, now the proud owner of leftover Stone beer

After nearly two hours of drudgery and copious amounts of beer and chocolate, we emerged with five spectacular pairings and one “to be announced” pairing. We would like to thank our gracious host and culinary genius Will Gustwiller for offering us a glimpse of his wildly imaginative take on chocolate. If you like Stone beer, and you like equally bold-flavored chocolate, you’d be crazy not to enjoy the fruits of his (and our) labor on May 3rd. Though we won’t discourage you from arming yourself with our tasting notes and going down to Eclipse to try the pairings we came up with, we do hope that you send us your suggestions for the sixth pairing. We’d really appreciate your help!

-Matt Steele

www.eclipsechocolat.com

http://www.stonebrew.com/calendar/#090503

The Most Arrogant Bar in America

Matt Steele
The title of “Most Arrogant Bar in America” is not a distinction we bestow lightly. We receive enthusiastic support from countless worthy establishments in all the vast reaches of this fine country, and we appreciate all the love. Really, we do. Sadly, there can be only one. Yes, that’s us for brewing…but in the world of Most Arrogant Bar in 2008, that distinction goes elsewhere.

Enter: Boston’s Bistro & Pub in Dayton, Ohio.

In a stunning performance, and for the second time in its illustrious history, Boston’s Bistro & Pub has snagged the title of “Most Arrogant Bar in America.” During the Most Arrogant Bar competition this past November, they served more Arrogant Bastard Ale, OAKED Arrogant Bastard Ale and Double Bastard Ale than any other establishment on the planet.  And they lived to tell the tale.

We would like all Stone fans to join us in congratulating Dave Boston and his crew for another lively display of no-holds-barred Arrogance.

Bravo, gentlemen. Bra-vo!

Oooh...shiny!

To celebrate this less-than humble occasion, Boston’s Bistro & Pub and Stone Brewing Co. are hosting a formal presentation of “Most Arrogant Bar” to Boston’s on Monday, January 19. Stone’s own Martin Saylor will be on hand, along with 12 half-barrels of Stone beer, including some tasty rarities such as Dry-Hopped Double Bastard Ale (the first half-barrel of this incredible beer to EVER land in the state of Ohio) and Stone Imperial Russian Stout, which placed second on BeerAdvocate’s list of “All-Time Top Beers on Planet Earth.” The festivities begin at 6pm and go till 8pm. If you’re within driving distance and you consider yourself a bit on the Arrogant side, have your teetotalling neighbor drive you instead. Better that way.

Check out the BeerAdvocate event page or Boston’s official website for more details.

Dave Boston, proud proprietor of the "Most Arrogant Bar in America"

Once again, congrats to those Bastards over at Boston’s Bistro & Pub. They truly are an Arrogant bunch.

-Matt Steele

Arrogance Is Goin' South! Stone distribution opens up in Texas and the Southeast

Scott Sheridan and XXXXX, kicking off Stone in Florida Stone Regional Sales Representative Scott Sheridan kicks off Florida with help from Oldsmar Taphouse owner Tony Falso

Up here in the office between tours, those of us on the tour team have the distinct privilege of reading and responding to the fan mail that comes into the brewery daily. It is indeed very cool to know that, through our humble yet passionate efforts (well, maybe not humble), we have been able to turn so many people on to great beer. And do they let us know it! In the last couple of months we have been able to bring more Stone brews to more people in more places than ever before: Texas has received an expanded lineup of our beer, North and South Carolina are now receiving copious amounts of Arrogance for the first time, and so is the state of Georgia. Ain’t that a peach! But our southward march hasn’t ended there. Last week we FINALLY entered Florida, much to the rejoicing of Floridians all the way from the Panhandle to Key West!

These days, instead of receiving all those wistful—if not downright desperate—letters that start with the line “PLEASE sell your beer in [any one of previously Stone-free zones],” we are happy to be reading more and more letters from folks who can hardly believe their eyes when, upon unsuspectingly walking into their local bottle shop, they see before their disbelieving eyes the brown bottled deliciousness that is Stone, proudly declaring its residency for the first time! These thank you notes are a real shot in the arm, and its a great feeling to hear from so many happy Stone lovers. Here’s an excerpt from one such letter:

Moved to Raleigh NC five years ago and had to console myself with lesser brews since you didn’t distribute to my area. Imagine my happiness when I saw a big gargoyle display right by the front door of the Peace St. Market yesterday! I’m drinking my first Bastard in years as I type this. Thanks for finally sending your liquid heaven out to my neck of the woods!

Eric, Raleigh NC

And how about this one:

I just got the news of the DECADE today and discovered that you guys DO listen to your fans …you’ve actually started distributing to GEORGIA! I have one thing to say about that: HALLELUJAH!

Rory Atlanta, GA

The big push started back in September, when trucks full of Stone beer started rolling into Houston, Austin, Dallas, and Amarillo. Although two of our brews, Stone IPA and Arrogant Bastard Ale, had been readily available in the Lone Star State since 2001, there’d been an increasingly vocal demand for more of our beers to be added to the lineup. Working in conjunction with Ben E. Keith Company, we’ve finally been able to bring Stone Pale Ale, Stone Smoked Porter, OAKED Arrogant Bastard Ale and Stone Ruination IPA into Texas as well—and our Texas brewery rep, Jason Armstrong, says the response among rejoicing Texans has been HUGE!

The response in Dixie has been no less enthusiastic. Our own Head Brewer, Mitch Steele, was in Georgia a couple of weeks back, where he and our Southeast Stone rep and native son of the South, Scott Sheridan, attended some of the Stone kick off celebrations at places like The Trappeze Pub in Athens. According to these two very seasoned veterans of the beer trade, they’d never before seen such a successful roll out. People were ecstatic!

Adam Smith, Salesman from Savannah Distributing

Adam Smith, a salesman from Savannah Distributing, was just a LITTLE excited to finally have the chance to get Stone out to his customers: He got some serious ink laid down on his right shoulder by Matt Roland at Tribal Urge in downtown Augusta. Way to represent, Adam!

And because one good turn deserves another, Mr. Sheridan has now headed down to Florida to usher in a great new era of great beer in the Sunshine State. Here’s what he said of the recent rollout:

“Sure Joe Maddon and the Rays made it to the World Series…Sure Tim Tebow and the Gators are having a great year…But what could be bigger than the arrival of Stone Brewing Co. in Florida? Uh…nothing!!”

Scott was on hand to celebrate the Florida kick off at the Gulf Coast’s Oldsmar Taphouse on Saturday, November 14th. On tap was a lineup of Stone beers as never seen before and, quite possibly, never again (at least not any time soon…). Year-round award winners such as Stone Pale Ale, Stone IPA, Stone Ruination IPA, Stone Smoked Porter, Stone Levitation Ale, Arrogant Bastard Ale, and Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale were gracing a Forida tap tower for the first time. He also managed to wrangle away from the Stone brewery in California archived masterpieces such as Stone 08.08.08 Veritcal Epic Ale, a trio of Stone Anniversary Ales featuring the 10th, 11th, and 12th versions, 2008 Imperial Russian Stout, 2008 Old Guardian Barleywine, 2008 Double Bastard Ale, and the gracefully aged 2006 Double Bastard Ale. Now THAT’S a kick off! Nicely done, Scott!

Back here in sunny So Cal (sat by the pool and read a sci-fi novel on this glorious 80 degree morning–not to gloat or anything), I look forward to hearing from all our new fans–and of course, our old friends too. So please drop us a line whenever you feel like sharing your enthusiasm with us. It really makes our day. Cheers!

-Ken Wright

The Return of Sawyer's Triple

My job here at the brewery (tours, fan correspondence, special events, etc.) gives me the frequent and pleasurable opportunity to interact with our fans on a daily basis. I definitely think it’s important that people be able to connect with us on a personal level and understand, that behind all the Arrogance and bombast, we are in fact ordinary—but no less interesting and authentic—folks just like themselves. This honest and unstaged interaction makes people feel good about supporting us in what we do. And one very central part of our mission in our endeavor to make fantastic beer, one that further strengthens this relationship with our fans, is our involvement in charity work. This is, of course, no glossy public relations chore, but rather a deep abiding, heartfelt conviction that dedicating ourselves to being the best brewers we can be means also dedicating ourselves to being the best citizens we can be—and that means bettering the community in which we live in every way we can.

Occasionally, this commitment has moved us to take up important causes that directly affect many of us here at Stone on a deeply personal level.

Some of you may recall a special beer that we brewed back in 2003 under the name “Sawyer’s Triple,” a golden, Belgian style ale quite unlike anything else we’d ever done before. By all accounts it was a marvelous beer, and I often get inquiries from fans as to whether we would consider bringing it back. Well, we are indeed bringing it back, and we are doing so to further the same cause that we took up some five years ago when we originally brewed this very special beer: the fight against ALD. ALD (Adrenoleukodystrophy) is a rare and devastating neuro-degenerative disease that typically affects young boys, ultimately taking them from us before they see their twelfth birthday. You may recall this illness from the 1992 film Lorenzo’s Oil.

Bill Sherwood

You may also recall that Sawyer’s Triple is named in honor of Sawyer Benjamin Sherwood, the son of Bill Sherwood, Stone’s facilities manager and an accomplished brewer, and his wife Janis Sherwood. Sawyer was a wonderful kid, and we are truly blessed to have had the privilege of watching him play baseball, running around the brew house while visiting his dad at work, and just being a bright, happy and energetic little boy. Bill, as a loving father and dedicated brewer, crafted Sawyer’s Triple soon after Sawyer was diagnosed with this terrible condition in the spring of 2003. The beer was to be sold specifically for the purpose of spreading an awareness of ALD and to help find and effective treatment, and eventually a cure, for this tragic affliction. 100% of the sales of this beer were donated towards the fight against ALD.

Sawyer Benjamin Sherwood

Sadly, Sawyer left us just before the initial release of Sawyer’s Triple later that year. But the cause continues, and we at Stone are just as dedicated as ever to rallying the kind and enthusiastic support from among our fans and the greater community that makes it possible to improve and save lives. Therefore, it is with no small amount of gratitude and conviction that we are pleased to announce that we are bringing back Sawyer’s Triple again for the very same noble endeavor. And I want to personally invite you to participate by spreading the word—and by picking up a bottle (or two…or three) of this ale that we have brewed on behalf of such an important cause.

Here is what you need to know:

  • Bottles of Sawyer’s Triple will be available for sale at the Stone Company Store starting Tuesday, November 11th. The 22 oz bottles will sell for $6 each (plus tax and CRV).
  • Sawyer’s Triple will be available on draft as well at the Stone World Bistro & Gardens for $6 a pint.
  • As before, absolutely 100% of the proceeds will go to charity; specifically, to Fight ALD!, the research and education foundation started by Janis Sherwood.
  • Although the sale of Stone Special Release beers has often been limited to 2 or 3 bottles per person, there will be no such limit for Sawyer’s Triple. Please note, however, no “case discount” will be in effect in order to provide Fight ALD with as much funding as possible.
  • Currently, Sawyer’s Triple is available for sale exclusively here at Stone.

I hope that you will join me, Team Stone, and the rest of our devoted fans in paying tribute to a noble spirit and in promoting a noble cause. Here’s to your health, generosity, and fulfillment!

-Ken Wright

LINKS:
-FightALD.org
-stonebrew.com/sawyerstriple
-Read the back of the 2008 label
-Photos from the bottling run on Flickr
-BeerAdvocate.com’s Reviews