The latest beer from our Stochasticity Project isn’t a futuristic or horizon-trained offering, but instead an ale crafted in the style of medieval brewsters. Sipping this ethereally herbaceous, floral (and, yes, hoppy…we’re still Stone Brewing Co.) beer is evocative of sipping beery, belly-warming nectar in the middle of a dense, misty English forest by the light of a log-stoked fire surrounded by one’s band of merry journeyers. ‘Twas such a fire that was used to boil the wort of beers during that long-gone era, and that lent a slightly smoky character to the finished product. To replicate that, this beer is brewed with peat-smoked malt as well as a lesser-used and most-interesting spicing and flavoring agent, elderberries. When combined with English hop varietals, Target and Goldings, everything comes together to create an ale paying homage to jolly (very) old England while incorporating modern-day, Southern-California hopping. Enter, Stochasticity Project Your Father Smelt of Elderberries.
When most Americans think of Australia, their minds revert to popularized images of shrimps on the barbie, an architecturally magnificent opera house, crocs, koalas, ‘roos both kanga and walla, and scenes from the Outback. But when our Brew Crew’s thoughts venture Down Under, they think of hops. It’s appropriate considering the plethora of amazing hop cultivars being grown in that country. Primarily through single-hop IPAs brewed on our 10-barrel brewhouse at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, our brewers have had the opportunity to really dig into the aroma, flavor and bittering characteristics of a number of Australian hops, using that knowledge to extract the best of what they have to offer into numerous beers brewed at our main facility. These hops have found their way into our regular brewing rotation, so when it came time to develop a recipe for our annual anniversary IPA, it was a quick and simple decision. We endeavored to create a hop-heavy beer celebrating Australia in a uniquely tasteful way. The result is Stone 19th Anniversary Thunderstruck IPA.
Everything about this beer is 100% Australian. From the hop bill, which includes Ella, Vic Secret, Galaxy and Topaz, to the Australian Fairview malts we went to great lengths to import. The result is an imperial IPA coming in at a thunderous 8.7% alcohol-by-volume that provides the necessary heft to support the beer’s massive hop presence. Big notes of citrus and tropical fruit come roaring through, first in the bouquet followed by the taste buds. The taste sensations are similar to Stone Enjoy By IPA, which makes sense considering Galaxy hops are used to dry-hop that beer. Stone 19th Anniversary Thunderstruck IPA finishes dry with a hint of lingering bitterness akin to grapefruit rind, making for the type of all-around sensory experience we aim for when crafting our annual celebratory beers. But we didn’t stop there.
To adequately convey our respectful homage to Australia, inside and out, our graphics artists worked up a bottle design that subtly yet distinctly incorporates elements plucked from Down Under. Most obviously, Australia appears as the jumping-off point for our anniversary gargoyle, but inside the numbers one and nine is a dot pattern inspired by aboriginal artists. And, because thunder is invisible, a slew of lightning bolts adorn the bottle along with text that may or may not reference a band with Australian roots that may or may not exist and may or may not have penned a tune that may or may not share the same name as that of this beer. What is for sure is that this limited-edition imperial IPA is out in the wild like a dingo on the prowl, seeking hopheads with worldly palates ready to celebrate an exciting hop-growing region along with 19 years of bold, exotic Stone ales. But you can’t have a 19th anniversary IPA without 19 years, so accept this specialty beer as a thank-you to everyone who helped get us this far!
Tasting notes, provided by Brewmaster Mitch Steele
- Stats: 8.7% ABV, 95 IBUs
- Availability: Limited 22-ounce bottles and on draft beginning August 10
- Hop Bill:Ella, Galaxy, Topaz, Vic Secret
- National Distribution: AK, AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA and Puerto Rico
- International Distribution: Australia; Alberta and British Columbia, Canada; Japan; Singapore and United Kingdom
- Appearance: Pours gold color with a white head of foam.
- Aroma: Aroma is amazing; massively hoppy with exotic tropical fruit, peaches, citrus and pineapple character, balanced with a bit of peppery, herbal dankness.
- Taste: Lots of fruity hop notes, ripe fruit, pleasantly malty and lasting, intense bitterness.
- Palate: Medium-bodied, bitter and dry.
- Overall: Over the past several years, we have developed an intense and thorough hop-evaluation program that involves brewing a standard IPA test recipe on our five-barrel pilot system or our ten-barrel brewery at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station. With this program, we identify experimental, new or old-favorite hop varieties to evaluate, and these test beers are late-hopped and dry-hopped exclusively using the variety we are exploring. We’ve discovered a lot of great hops via these test brews, and the hops used in this release are perfect examples of the success of our program. We have developed an affinity for hops grown in Australia. Australian Galaxy, for example, is a mainstay dry-hop in our Stone Enjoy By IPA. In the case of Stone 19th Anniversary Thunderstruck IPA, we dry-hopped the beer with two Australian hop varietals that went through our evaluation program—Vic Secret and Ella. Both are flavorful varieties with complex fruit profiles. To make this beer even more authentically Australian, we also imported close to 400,000 pounds of Australian Fairview malt, all in 1,800-pound “supersacks” for use as the base malt. The result is a uniquely Australian beer, Stone-style. Thun-da!
Suggested pairings, provided by Craft Beer Ambassador “Dr.” Bill Sysak
- Appetizers: Barbecue shrimp, chicken satay, kimchi, guacamole, goat cheese-stuffed piquillo peppers
- Soups: Caesar, summer corn, quinoa and vegetable, antipasto
- Entrées: Fish tacos, pad Thai, spicy vegetarian chili, chana masala
- Cheeses: Parmigiano-Reggiano, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, manchego, fontina, Keen’s Cheddar
- Desserts: Carrot cake, peach cobbler, white chocolate-macadamia nut cookies, ginger spice cake
- Cigars: Herrera Esteli Piramide Fino, Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story
Recognizing the marketing power of slapping a celebrity’s name on a bottle, many are the adult beverage producers who seek out popular, public-facing people to help sell their liquid wares. All too often, it consists of little more than some TV time, and payment of royalties for the rental of a moniker and its associated persona via some “signature blend,” “private label” or similarly shallow ploy to profit off pop culture-obsessed fan-boys and girls. This is definitely NOT the case with Drew Curtis/Wil Wheaton/Greg Koch Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout, the 2015 edition of which is already well on its way across the nation. Though its handle contains a number of droppable names, there is serious heart and an authentic genesis to what has become one of the most coveted beers in Stone’s proud history.
For many, the term “triple IPA” hails from a foreign vernacular—that makes sense, considering IPA stands for India pale ale, a British beer style brewed with enough hops to preserve the quaff during long nautical voyages from England to the Far East. It doesn’t get much more foreign than two distantly situated countries and the traversing of two major oceanic bodies. Since latching on to this historic style, American craft brewers have taken the IPA to new heights. No longer are hops coveted for their preservative powers—now it’s all about those botanicals’ piney, fruity, tropical, spicy flavors and aromas, and raising those sensations to bombastic levels. But what takes an India pale ale to “triple IPA” territory? The answer comes in the form of Stone RuinTen Triple IPA.
Were this blog post dated April 1, it’s doubtful anyone would take it seriously, for the subject of our latest communique is a most unusual beer that merits attention not only for its uniqueness, but for the art behind its crafting and its overall deliciousness. It’s these qualities that led to it winning our 2015 American Homebrewers Association-sanctioned homebrewing competition. For the first time ever, that annual event was held at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, providing plenty of room for attendees (the majority of which were recreational fermentationists) to roam about, tasting their way through the 27 homespun beers vying for bragging rights and the chance to be brewed at Stone and distributed across the country. That’s a heck of a grand prize. As such, our judges—Stone Co-founders Steve Wagner and Greg Koch, Craft Beer Ambassador “Dr.” Bill Sysak, and numerous members of our Brew Crew, Small Batch Team and Quality Assurance Department—spent a great deal of time and deliberation making sure the blue ribbon went to the most deserving and delectable of the bunch.
Are we hopelessly nostalgic? Dub all stars? Aurally obsessed? (Hey, we said “aural”…heed the spelling!) The answer to all of these is yes, however, the decision to name the latest experiment from our more out-there, experimental line of whimsy driven brews Stochasticity Project HiFi+LoFi Mixtape actually takes more of a page from our history than our love of boom boxes and customized cassettes. Fans of Stone (and the Stone Blog) have heard of our Stone Mixtape Ale series of blended beers. These rarities are custom mixes of barrel-aged Stone beers and archived rarities, the likes of which many people have never tasted (e.g., Stone LeVariation Ale, Stone Belgian Brown Ale aged in Red Wine Barrels, Stone Belgian Pale Ale aged in White Wine Barrels). To date, 11 Stone Mixtape Ales have been crafted, but none of them have been bottled. They’re super small-batch, so that’s just the nature of these interesting and often exquisite beasts. To give fans nationwide a taste of our blends, we decided to add a large-scale Mixtape to the Stochasticity Project docket, the result of which comes in the form of Stochasticity Project HiFi+LoFi Mixtape.
There was a time not so long ago when barrel-aged beers were just starting to trickle out of American craft breweries. At the time, some speculated they might just be a passing fancy. Those naysayers are probably still waiting out similar fads like television and the internet, but we, like many beer enthusiasts, have embraced oak-matured ale as something that is here to stay (thank goodness). For most breweries, barrel-aging involves siphoning an imperial stout or barley wine into a barrel. This is a straightforward method that yields fantastic results (as evidenced by our own barrel-aged creations, such as Fyodor’s Classic, Mikhael’s Odd and Guardian’s Slumber), but when contemplating our latest oak-kissed brew, we wanted to take things a step further to create something truly unique. No, not “unique” in the over-used sense of the word that generifies this definitive term. This beer—a hoppy, decidedly West Coast double IPA blended with a barrel-aged Belgian-style tripel—is truly and literally unique. Allow us to explain as we take you through the intriguing make-up of Ecliptic/Wicked Weed/Stone Points Unknown IPA.
Before setting forth on my most monumental dissertation, let me first address the members of the virtual peanut gallery who read the title of this post, snicker and instinctively feel the need to scroll down to the comments section to point out that the subject of this communique is not five words, but in fact four words. The laws of hyphenates are iffy, but one thing is for certain—those words are powerful. They’re what brought you here in the first place…Bourbon Barrel-Aged Arrogant Bastard.
Another week, another revamped Stone classic. Seven short days after debuting Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0 to hop heads across the country, we’re ready to introduce a second second-take built to up hop potency and appeal: Stone Pale Ale 2.0. Whereas the former bears a great deal of sensual resemblance to its predecessor, Stone fans will find the latter to be completely reimagined. While hoppier than most beers of its kind, the original Stone Pale Ale possessed the type of copper-toned, caramely malt body associated with traditional British pale ales. In Stone Pale Ale 2.0, Brewmaster Mitch Steele and his crew have peeled back the malt curtain to reveal a golden-hued pale ale that falls in line with current craft beer enthusiasts’ tastes…including our own.
We’ve been (mis-)labeled “arrogant.” We get it. You brew up a beer called Arrogant Bastard Ale and have the audacity to demand that everybody be entitled to the finest beer today’s craftsmen and women can brew, and people form certain opinions. But in reality, we’re not arrogant. What we are is extremely passionate and confident in craft beer and our abilities in that arena. To a person, our Brew Crew works tirelessly to up their technical knowledge and abilities. From keeping up on best practices and emerging techniques for upping beer’s flavor, increasing the efficiency of our brewhouse, stimulating our yeast so they perform as optimally as possible or staying on top of the ever-changing hop crops and the immense influx of new botanical varietals being produced from the Pacific Northwest to Australia and New Zealand, Brewmaster Mitch Steele and his team have their hands (and heads) full. Each day offers a new opportunity to learn and grow, and our beers reflect that—perhaps more now than ever before.