On The Curious Subject of Cascade Hops…

It’s apparently mind blowing to some folks that for our first 15+ years, we’d never used Cascade hops in any of our beers. And now, seemingly out of the blue, we’ve gone and used Cascade in our two most recent beer releases: 2012 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine and the Bear Republic / Fat Head’s / Stone TBA. Interestingly enough, we got a fair amount of (unexpected) reactions at this news. Some people laughed. Others cried. (Not really. At least as far as we know.) Some made conclusions about what they thought the beers would taste like before even trying them. (Hardly unusual.) Though most just happily went to their local craft beer bar or trusty bottle shop, picked one up and thoroughly enjoyed it without knowing or caring that the use of Cascade hops was a new endeavor for us. Cool.

Then we got a few strange comments scattered about our multiple social media channels. This one in particular made us scratch our heads: “Stone using Cascade hops? What the hell? I thought you guys wanted to stay a Cascade free brewery.” Wait… what? We never said that. At least that we can recall. Clearly, some folks felt we had some ‘splaining to do. Et voilà… here we are.

Fresh Hops

Hops run through our veins, yo.

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Bear Republic / Fat Head’s / Stone TBA

It’s no secret that we love making collaboration beers. We always have an amazing time brewing them, they’ve turned out great (if we may say so ourselves), and it gives us a chance to play around a little bit. To go a little further outside of the proverbial box. (Though admittedly, we were never quite certain about where this so-called box is/was, or how so many folks managed to find their way into it.) Each collaboration has its own story, its own inspiration, its own unique set of attributes.

Our first collab of 2012 starts rolling out today, and we’ll go ahead and say it: We’ve got another winner on our hands. “Bear Republic / Fat Head’s / Stone TBA,” as the name implies, is the work of Bear Republic Brewing Co. Brewmaster Richard Norgrove, Jr. (you can call him Ricardo), Fat Head’s Brewery Head Brewer Matt Cole, and our own Brewmaster Mitch Steele.

But what of the rest of the name: TBA? Like, as in… To Be Announced? Trusted Business Advisor? Text-Based Adventure? Tracheobronchial aspirate? Mmm… not quite. The acronym alludes to a classic but little-known beer style called Texas Brown Ale, which, strangely enough, has its roots in California. You see, back in the 80s, there was this homebrew recipe for a brown ale supercharged with Cascade hops that was floating around NorCal homebrew circles. And even while it started gaining popularity, beers that were made in this style failed to fare well in homebrew competitions since there was no recognized category they could be entered in. (They were wayyyy too hoppy and bitter to be considered a traditional brown ale.) But when a competition in Houston, TX, decided to judge such entries in what they would call the “California Dark” category, the American Homebrewers Association followed suit soon after, though they perplexingly changed the name to Texas Brown Ale. Read More