Brewing Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale at Home

Well, well well. 11.11.11. Hmmm. A very special day on several levels. First, it was the Veteran’s Day of all Veteran’s Days. A perfect day to pay tribute and honor those who have served in our country’s military. And perhaps, on a less serious side, 11.11.11 was also Nigel Tufnel Day (who is Nigel Tufnel you ask?…lead guitarist for the legendary band Spinal Tap…made famous for having his Marshall amplifiers custom built with volume knobs that go to “11”…not 10.)

“This one goes to 11….well it’s one louder, isn’t it?”

And 11.11 also was the birthday of two wonderful members of Team Stone, Marty Saylor and Laura Ulrich, so raise a glass to them!

And finally, 11.11.11 signifies the release of the second to last in our Stone Vertical Epic Ale series: the penultimate Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale.

We started off developing this beer by brewing a pilot size amber Belgian style ale using a nice variety of German and Belgian amber malts. It was a good start, a very nice beer, but was just missing that special something, that “twist” we like to have in the Stone Vertical Epic Ales. Then, one day last spring, I was in the Temecula Spice Shop in Old Town Temecula, just browsing around. I always like to look for interesting spices and teas and such, and I was looking at some chilies to possibly use for brewing…or to make a great chili for our annual Superbowl Chili Cookoff. The woman in the store told me that she had only one more bag of this wonderful Hatch Green Chili left, and she raved about the flavors from these chilies from New Mexico.

So I bought that last bag, and rather than cook with it, I decided we should try it in a pilot brew. As much as I love chilies, I’m not very well schooled in the different varieties, so I did a little research on the Hatch Chili, and was impressed by their reputation, and the idea of getting great, intense and unique chili flavor without a lot of heat. We also added a touch of cinnamon to that pilot brew, giving it a bit of a Mexican flair, and found the flavors worked amazingly well together, better than I had hoped for!

So here is the homebrew recipe. It’s a pretty basic brew in a lot of ways, so have fun with it. It’s 100% malt this year, no Belgian Syrup or Candi Sugar, so the beer ends up being a little fuller bodied than in the past few years. And as always, we suggest some musical selections that we think will pair well with each brewing step along the way.

Here is the grain bill:

Pale Malt 80.25%

Light Munich Malt 9.10%

Special B Malt 5.6%

CaraBohemian Malt 4%

Crystal 75-80°L 1.05%

As always, I am only providing the all grain version of the recipe, and just percentages, so you can figure out the weights based on the size of your brewing system and your normal efficiencies.

Target OG: 20.5°P (1.082 SG.)

OK, 11.11.11 is a Spinal Tap kind of day, so let’s start things off with the classic “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight” which should get all of us in the mood for an Epic Brew Day!

Mashing:

Use a 30 minute conversion rest at 150°F. This is a moderately low conversion temperature for a relatively short time that should provide a nice balance of malt dextrins in the finished beer. If you are keeping up with these recipes, this particular mash scheme was designed to make a bit maltier, fuller beer than what we’ve done the past few years. If you can, raise your mash temperature up to 165°F after conversion rest to stop the enzymatic conversion of starches to sugars before lautering.

Lautering:

Recirculate your wort gently from the bottom over the top of the mash to deposit the fine particles of malt on the top of the grain and to “set” your bed. Avoid splashing the wort. Recirculate for 5-15 minutes, depending on your system, before diverting wort flow to your kettle/boiling vessel. You should remove almost all the malt particles from the wort flow, but some haze is ok.

Start sparging in the lauter when the wort level is about ½” above the grain bed. Starting earlier will decrease your efficiency, because the water will dilute your first wort. Sparge water should be between 165°F and 170°F to maximize extraction, but avoid going over 170°F or you’ll extract harsh compounds from the malt husks.

Fun trivia: Did you know the technique of sparging was invented by Scottish brewers in the 1700s? Up until that point, brewers would mash in, and then draw off all the liquid, and then add more water and mash again, repeating the process 3-4 times to obtain separate worts with decreasing gravities that were used for separate beers. Sparging as a standard brewing practice became common in the mid 1800s.

Sparge until you hit your target boil volume or until your wort gravity being drawn-off reaches 3°P (1.012 SG), whichever comes first. Don’t lauter past 3°P, because when the sparged wort coming off the lauter is that low in sugar content, you risk extracting tannins and other harsh character from the malt husks.

Be careful not to rush the mashing and lautering step, or your brewing efficiency will go down. These steps should be done gently, with care. A good music selection will assist in keeping things relaxed and gentle during lautering. Don’t go too mellow, just enough to keep you focused on the task at hand and inspired. Therefore, I suggest Spinal Tap’s “Hell Hole” or “Rock and Roll Creation” to keep things relaxed and focused.

Boil:

Here is the hop bill:

2.9 grams per gallon Warrior hop pellets (15% AA)

2.9 grams per gallon Perle hop pellets (10% AA)

All added at the start of boil. There are no other hop additions during the boil. This should get you about 65 IBU’s. Boil for 90 minutes.

You do know that hops are the flowers produced by female hop vines, right? Therefore, a perfect song choice when adding hop flowers to the boil is “Listen To What The Flower People Said” by Spinal Tap.

Always be safety minded, and beware of spontaneous combustion during flameout…

Whirlpool

Hop and Spice additions, to be added at the start of the whirlpool process:

2.9 grams per gallon New Zealand Pacific Jade hop pellets

1.4 grams per gallon U.K. Target hop pellets

1.4 grams per gallon New Mexico Hatch mild green chilies (dried and crushed)

1.4 grams per gallon crushed cinnamon stick

Pacific Jade is a newer hop variety from New Zealand, we first used it in the Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA (How much more black could that beer be? The answer is none. None more black.) We just love the pineapple, citrusy, and spicy herbal flavors it contributes. UK Target is a high alpha English hop that provides both a characteristic English earthy hop character and hints of Orange Marmalade and Tangerine. We used this hop in our Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA.

The dried crushed chilies we got from Biad Chile in Las Cruces, New Mexico. We went with the mild version, not hot, because we really wanted the wonderful flavor without a lot of heat. The varieties are a blend of NM 6-4, AZ-20 and AZ-19, and are referred to as “Anaheim type” chilies, even though they come from New Mexico. So if you can’t find New Mexico mild green chilies, perhaps dried and crushed Anaheim chilies would be an acceptable substitute.

The chilies and cinnamon stick we put in a mesh bag and hung in the whirlpool. The addition rate is fairly low. To paraphrase our lab tech Rick Blankemeier, we didn’t want to brew a chili beer, we wanted to brew a great beer with chilies. The low addition rate allows all the other ingredients to blend in. You can taste the chilies, but this is far from a one-dimensional beer. Be sure to bust up the cinnamon stick into small pieces to maximize flavor extraction.

The whirlpool step is where you separate out your proteinaceous trub. This is called, in brewing techno-speak, the “trub break.” An appropriate song choice here could be Spinal Tap’s “Break Like The Wind.”

Fermentation:

Yeast Addition: Pitch a Belgian yeast strain, enough to get 20-25 million cells per milliliter (requires a starter). We used the Wyeast 3220 Flanders Golden strain. This strain produces a lot of banana esters, which we found blended really well with the cinnamon flavors.

After the trub has been separated from the wort, chill the wort using an immersion chiller or a heat exchanger to about 65 °F. Add enough yeast to get a cell count of about 20-25 million cells per milliliter. We used a fairly high pitching rate (yeast addition rate) here, because we wanted to ferment at a lower temperature but still ensure the beer fermented out completely. This means that you will most likely have to build up your yeast culture at home using a starter. We fermented the Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale at 68°F to maximize fruity ester formation and minimize the clove/spicy flavor formations, which form at higher levels with warmer Belgian yeast fermentation temperatures.

One thing about this yeast: it’s a powerhouse and ferments well below normal gravity limits. In this case, we formulated the beer to finish out between 4 and 4.5°P, but the yeast took it down to about 2.5°P, which resulted in 9.4% abv.

By the time you are pitching, your brew day is just about complete….so you can spin some “All The Way Home,” the very first Spinal Tap song co-written by musical geniuses Nigel Tufnel and David St. Hubbins.

Aging:

After fermentation completes (should finish between 2.5 and 3°P), chill the beer down to about 35°F or so, and let it sit until the beer clarifies, at least one week.

Package the beer as normal.

Perhaps now is the time to start celebrating your successful brew, and celebrate by pondering the wonderful mysteries of brewing, a mysterious art which we now know was started in ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, by an ancient race of people… the Druids…. at their mystical brewing site “Stonehenge.” Nobody knows who taught the Druids how to brew, but their legacy lives on. Enjoy your brew day!

Try your hand at brewing all of the Stone Vertical Epic Ales. Homebrew recipes for each can be found at:

Stone 02.02.02 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 05.05.05 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 06.06.06 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 07.07.07 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 08.08.08 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 10.10.10 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale

11.11.11 Is Upon Us

Jacob McKean

You’re undoubtedly aware of our Stone Vertical Epic Ale series. You may even have a cellar stocked with previous incarnations of our annual (plus a month and a day) homage to the wondrous effects of Belgian yeast and transformative hand of Father Time.

So the series itself requires little introduction, but this year’s installment merits some explanation. To put it succinctly, it is a Belgian-style amber ale brewed with cinnamon and Anaheim chillis from New Mexico’s legendary Hatch Valley (famous for growing complexly flavorful chillis prized by foodies.)

How that brief description translates into the taste of a beer is another matter. For those duties, I give you Stone’s Brewmaster Mitch Steele:

Appearance:

The Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale pours a deep amber with a cream colored head of foam.

Aroma:

The Belgian yeast strain we used this year has more pronounced banana aromatics than the clove flavors produced by some of the yeast strains we have used in past years. Mixed in with the banana esters are toffee malt notes, hints of spice — clove and cinnamon — and a trace of very mild green chili in the back. The aromas all blend together incredibly well.

Taste:

Upfront, the yeast-derived banana flavors are blended very nicely with toasted and toffee-like malt flavors, fruity esters, and balanced hints of cinnamon. Mid palate the Perle and Pacific Jade hops and the Hatch green chili flavors come through. The beer finishes dry, and bitter with just the most subtle of hints of chili heat and a touch of alcohol.

Overall:

Not your typical chili beer! The famous mild green chilies from the Hatch Valley in New Mexico add layers of delicious flavor with a very mild heat component. The base beer itself is very reminiscent of a European amber beer, with Perle and Pacific Jade hops, Munich and other roasted German and Belgian malts, hopped and brewed to a very Stone-like 65 IBU and 9.4% ABV. Cinnamon is a wonderful spice if used judiciously, which we did here-it doesn’t by any means dominate the beer’s flavor, but definitely adds a subtly complex spice note that blends amazingly well with the banana esters and green chili.

ABV: 9.4%

IBU: 65

OG: 20.5°P

TG: 2.5°P

Malts: Pale, Crystal, Munich, CaraBohemian and Special B

Hops: Warrior, Target, Perle and Pacific Jade

Now that you’ve received the full rundown on this beer, we’ll tell you that it will begin percolating out onto shelves and taps starting on November 7th, 2011. Why not on 11.11.11, you ask? Because the beer gods prefer releases to be on Mondays. So there.

Local Bottle Shops Are Celebrating The Stone 15th Anniversary Too

Jacob McKean

You may have noticed that some SoCal stores are celebrating the Stone 15th Anniversary with us by setting up special displays with Stone beers. All of them feature Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA alongside our other beers…and  even Stone Special Release beers from our archives in some locations. These beautiful displays will last until the beer sells out!

Check out the map here…

Quingenti Millilitre Releases: Here’s How It’s Going To Work

Jacob McKean

Undoubtedly you’ve been waiting with bated breath for us to announce the details of our first Quingenti Millitre release. The beer is, of course, “Ken Schmidt / Maui / Stone Kona Coffee, Macadamia, Coconut Porter Aged in Bourbon Barrels,” a suitably Pavlovian response-inducing beer to kick off this exciting new venture.

Here’s the rub: we’re only expecting there to be about 500 bottles. As such, we had to think long and hard about the best way to release this magic liquid into the wild, examining a variety of strategies and trying to learn from the experiences of others before deciding on a method.

Well, now we’re ready. Here’s how it’s going to go (in brief):

We’re going to sell the bottles at the Stone Company Store—Escondido. But not to just anyone. Just to winners. Of a drawing. That you can enter.

The drawing will work like this:

  • For every $1 ticket you buy, you will be entered once into the drawing.
  • Buying multiple tickets will increase your statistical odds of winning in the drawing, however you can only win once.  Maximum.

A HUGE thanks to Brown Paper Tickets for waiving their usual ticket fee for this. It means a lot more money will go to these great charities.

Tickets go on sale right now, ticket sales stop on August 16th at 11:59pm, and the winners will be selected on Thursday, August 18th and notified via email (so check your spam folder.) They’ll then get until September 18th to come to the Stone Company Store—Escondido to purchase the beer for its full retail price: $25 plus tax & CRV.

There’s more to it than that, however, so be 100% certain to read and reread all of the rules:

  1. YOU MUST PURCHASE AND PICK UP YOUR BEER IN PERSON at Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido. WE WILL NOT SHIP ANY BEER. We’re sorry, but if you can’t come get it, don’t buy any tickets!
  2. This drawing is open to individuals 21 and older ONLY.
  3. Buying tickets does not guarantee any result. You are purchasing the chance to have your name randomly chosen. THERE WILL BE NO REFUNDS.
  4. The drawing is NOT for a “free” bottle of beer. If you win, we grant you the OPPORTUNITY TO BUY one Quingenti Milliltre bottle of: “Ken Schmidt / Maui / Stone Kona Coffee, Macadamia, Coconut Porter Aged in Bourbon Barrels” at full retail value ($25 + tax and CRV).
  5. One beer per person! While buying more tickets will increase the statistical odds of being chosen, participants may “win” only once and purchase one bottle of beer only.
  6. The odds of having your name drawn depend upon the number of tickets purchased.
  7. There is no limit to how many tickets you can buy!
  8. The number of bottles available will be determined on bottling day (we believe it will be around 500).
  9. These are virtual tickets; you will not receive physical tickets for your purchase. We will retain records in order to select winners and contact you if your name is chosen, but will not use your personal information for ANY other reason. Ever.
  10. All of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Escondido Creek Conservancy and Interfaith Community Services. Brown Paper Tickets has very graciously agreed to waive their normal service fees so that we can donate as much as possible to these two non-profit organizations.
  11. TICKET SALES END TUESDAY, AUGUST 16th, AT 11:59PM.
  12. Selection of winning tickets will be done by an unaffiliated third party.
  13. We will notify those who have won the opportunity to purchase one Quingenti Milliltre bottle of: “Ken Schmidt / Maui / Stone Kona Coffee, Macadamia, Coconut Porter Aged in Bourbon Barrels” by email no later than Thursday, August 18th, 2011.
  14. Winning ticket numbers (with no other identifying information) will also be posted on our website the day of the drawing.
  15. Winners may purchase and pick up their beer between Thursday, August 18th, 2011 and Sunday, September 18th, 2011.
  16. In order to pick up and purchase your beer, you must present a government issued photo ID and the credit card used to purchase the winning ticket–and you must be the person on the ID! Winning tickets are non-transferable.
  17. The Stone Company Store CANNOT SELL YOU BEER if you bring anyone under the age of 21 with you (other than a child for whom you are the legal guardian).
  18. The deadline for winners to pick up and purchase their beer is 8pm on Sunday, September 18th, 2011. Winners not adhering to this deadline forfeit their right to purchase the beer. There will be no refunds of ticket purchases.
  19. If you purchase a Quingenti Millilitre bottle and attempt to resell it, you will be ineligible for future drawings. It is because of opportunists that we’ve gone to this length to create a fair system for getting these beers out to those who truly appreciate them, rather than those seeking a quick profit at others’ expense.
  20. These rules are subject to change (but we don’t expect that to happen).

You can buy tickets HERE.

I want to speak directly to rule 19 for a moment because I made it a bit of a personal crusade to include it.

This beer took a tremendous amount of effort to brew (to this day, you can make Mitch Steele hunch over with stress if you ask him about the brew day). Barrel-aging it was a wise decision and took years of careful patience. Now, we want as many Stone fans as possible to try it, ideally while sharing it with their beer loving friends & family.

And if we’re being honest, while $25 is a lot to spend on a single bottle of beer, it is below what the market would bear. The price reflects the cost of making the beer, but we haven’t priced it to reflect the enormous demand, as is more typical in the wine world. We’ve done this because we want it to be reasonably accessible to our fans, and we’re willing to leave some money on the table to do it.

So it would make us very sad (read: ticked) if a few people ended up with a large number of bottles, purely with the intention of reselling them for a much higher price on eBay. That is also part of why we are holding a drawing to select the buyers. Our good friend Jean Van Roy of Belgium’s famed lambic brewery Cantillon has the same motivation for releasing his 2011 Zwanze Ale on draft only.

And while we’re very excited that the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens will be one of the few places that will get to serve Zwanze this year (shameless plug, it’s on September 17th), it’s unfortunate that brewers have to go to such ends to avoid seeing their beer auctioned off online for exorbitant prices. While I don’t imagine this explanation will have any effect on the people who game the system in this fashion, I do hope it will help our true fans understand our thinking and, if they’re lucky, enjoy this beer in the same spirit of collaboration, ethics, camaraderie, and passion with which it was made.

Alright, now that you’ve all listened to my diatribe, here are some upcoming Quingenti Millilitre releases:

  • 21st Amendment / Firestone Walker / Stone El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale Aged in American Oak Barrels
  • Dogfish Head / Victory / Stone Saison du BUFF Aged in Red Wine Barrels
  • 2010 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Aged in Bourbon Barrels, the release of which will be tied to the forthcoming book, The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance (Ten Speed Press, 10/2011)
  • Green Flash / Pizza Port Carlsbad / Stone Highway 78 Scotch Ale Aged in Scotch Barrels

Cheers!

Quingenti Millilitre Releases: Here's How It's Going To Work

Jacob McKean

Undoubtedly you’ve been waiting with bated breath for us to announce the details of our first Quingenti Millitre release. The beer is, of course, “Ken Schmidt / Maui / Stone Kona Coffee, Macadamia, Coconut Porter Aged in Bourbon Barrels,” a suitably Pavlovian response-inducing beer to kick off this exciting new venture.

Here’s the rub: we’re only expecting there to be about 500 bottles. As such, we had to think long and hard about the best way to release this magic liquid into the wild, examining a variety of strategies and trying to learn from the experiences of others before deciding on a method.

Well, now we’re ready. Here’s how it’s going to go (in brief):

We’re going to sell the bottles at the Stone Company Store—Escondido. But not to just anyone. Just to winners. Of a drawing. That you can enter.

The drawing will work like this:

  • For every $1 ticket you buy, you will be entered once into the drawing.
  • Buying multiple tickets will increase your statistical odds of winning in the drawing, however you can only win once.  Maximum.

A HUGE thanks to Brown Paper Tickets for waiving their usual ticket fee for this. It means a lot more money will go to these great charities.

Tickets go on sale right now, ticket sales stop on August 16th at 11:59pm, and the winners will be selected on Thursday, August 18th and notified via email (so check your spam folder.) They’ll then get until September 18th to come to the Stone Company Store—Escondido to purchase the beer for its full retail price: $25 plus tax & CRV.

There’s more to it than that, however, so be 100% certain to read and reread all of the rules:

  1. YOU MUST PURCHASE AND PICK UP YOUR BEER IN PERSON at Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido. WE WILL NOT SHIP ANY BEER. We’re sorry, but if you can’t come get it, don’t buy any tickets!
  2. This drawing is open to individuals 21 and older ONLY.
  3. Buying tickets does not guarantee any result. You are purchasing the chance to have your name randomly chosen. THERE WILL BE NO REFUNDS.
  4. The drawing is NOT for a “free” bottle of beer. If you win, we grant you the OPPORTUNITY TO BUY one Quingenti Milliltre bottle of: “Ken Schmidt / Maui / Stone Kona Coffee, Macadamia, Coconut Porter Aged in Bourbon Barrels” at full retail value ($25 + tax and CRV).
  5. One beer per person! While buying more tickets will increase the statistical odds of being chosen, participants may “win” only once and purchase one bottle of beer only.
  6. The odds of having your name drawn depend upon the number of tickets purchased.
  7. There is no limit to how many tickets you can buy!
  8. The number of bottles available will be determined on bottling day (we believe it will be around 500).
  9. These are virtual tickets; you will not receive physical tickets for your purchase. We will retain records in order to select winners and contact you if your name is chosen, but will not use your personal information for ANY other reason. Ever.
  10. All of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Escondido Creek Conservancy and Interfaith Community Services. Brown Paper Tickets has very graciously agreed to waive their normal service fees so that we can donate as much as possible to these two non-profit organizations.
  11. TICKET SALES END TUESDAY, AUGUST 16th, AT 11:59PM.
  12. Selection of winning tickets will be done by an unaffiliated third party.
  13. We will notify those who have won the opportunity to purchase one Quingenti Milliltre bottle of: “Ken Schmidt / Maui / Stone Kona Coffee, Macadamia, Coconut Porter Aged in Bourbon Barrels” by email no later than Thursday, August 18th, 2011.
  14. Winning ticket numbers (with no other identifying information) will also be posted on our website the day of the drawing.
  15. Winners may purchase and pick up their beer between Thursday, August 18th, 2011 and Sunday, September 18th, 2011.
  16. In order to pick up and purchase your beer, you must present a government issued photo ID and the credit card used to purchase the winning ticket–and you must be the person on the ID! Winning tickets are non-transferable.
  17. The Stone Company Store CANNOT SELL YOU BEER if you bring anyone under the age of 21 with you (other than a child for whom you are the legal guardian).
  18. The deadline for winners to pick up and purchase their beer is 8pm on Sunday, September 18th, 2011. Winners not adhering to this deadline forfeit their right to purchase the beer. There will be no refunds of ticket purchases.
  19. If you purchase a Quingenti Millilitre bottle and attempt to resell it, you will be ineligible for future drawings. It is because of opportunists that we’ve gone to this length to create a fair system for getting these beers out to those who truly appreciate them, rather than those seeking a quick profit at others’ expense.
  20. These rules are subject to change (but we don’t expect that to happen).

I want to speak directly to rule 19 for a moment because I made it a bit of a personal crusade to include it.

This beer took a tremendous amount of effort to brew (to this day, you can make Mitch Steele hunch over with stress if you ask him about the brew day). Barrel-aging it was a wise decision and took years of careful patience. Now, we want as many Stone fans as possible to try it, ideally while sharing it with their beer loving friends & family.

And if we’re being honest, while $25 is a lot to spend on a single bottle of beer, it is below what the market would bear. The price reflects the cost of making the beer, but we haven’t priced it to reflect the enormous demand, as is more typical in the wine world. We’ve done this because we want it to be reasonably accessible to our fans, and we’re willing to leave some money on the table to do it.

So it would make us very sad (read: ticked) if a few people ended up with a large number of bottles, purely with the intention of reselling them for a much higher price on eBay. That is also part of why we are holding a drawing to select the buyers. Our good friend Jean Van Roy of Belgium’s famed lambic brewery Cantillon has the same motivation for releasing his 2011 Zwanze Ale on draft only.

And while we’re very excited that the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens will be one of the few places that will get to serve Zwanze this year (shameless plug, it’s on September 17th), it’s unfortunate that brewers have to go to such ends to avoid seeing their beer auctioned off online for exorbitant prices. While I don’t imagine this explanation will have any effect on the people who game the system in this fashion, I do hope it will help our true fans understand our thinking and, if they’re lucky, enjoy this beer in the same spirit of collaboration, ethics, camaraderie, and passion with which it was made.

Alright, now that you’ve all listened to my diatribe, here are some upcoming Quingenti Millilitre releases:

  • 21st Amendment / Firestone Walker / Stone El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale Aged in American Oak Barrels
  • Dogfish Head / Victory / Stone Saison du BUFF Aged in Red Wine Barrels
  • 2010 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Aged in Bourbon Barrels, the release of which will be tied to the forthcoming book, The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance (Ten Speed Press, 10/2011)
  • Green Flash / Pizza Port Carlsbad / Stone Highway 78 Scotch Ale Aged in Scotch Barrels

Cheers!

A Day in the Life of a Stone Sales Representative

Jacob McKean


Editor’s Note: This post is the first in a series about the people behind Stone Brewing Co. We’re pulling back the curtain both to show our fans how Stone actually runs on a day-to-day basis, and, more selfishly, to help fill some of our many job openings.

Selling beer. Sounds like a pretty sweet job, eh? It’s beer! The stuff just sells itself!

Not exactly. In an effort give you a peek into the inner workings of the well-oiled machine that is Stone Brewing Co.’s local sales department, I spent a day with Lisa Penwell, Stone’s On-Premise Downtown San Diego Sales Representative.

Lisa with "her" Route Driver Brent

Lisa’s territory encompasses Downtown, Golden Hill, South Park, and Little Italy, essentially the busiest, densest, most tourist-frequented part of the city. It is loaded with bars and restaurants (“on-premise accounts” in industry parlance), which open and close with a rhythmic regularity, giving Lisa an ever shifting landscape to manage.

How does she do it? The short is answer is this: by meticulously maintaining relationships with the folks in her area. Now, here’s the long answer, encapsulated in a single day of Lisa’s hardworking life.

She starts the day at 7AM answering loads of emails, many of which involve placing orders, inquiring about availability, and coordinating events. She then makes a list of every account that needs to be visited in-person that day, delineating who needs what, when and so on and so forth.

When bars start to open in the early afternoon, Lisa hits the road. Wielding only her well-worn phone (on which she places orders and answers calls continuously) and a few samples as needed, she rushes from bar to bar, answering questions, suggesting new beers, checking on empty kegs, setting up events, and doing lots and lots of talking.

Lisa with her ever present phone and notepad

It quickly became clear from listening to Lisa talk that the minutiae of keeping a bar stocked with fresh Stone is just one part of her job. Maintaining the relationship that helps keep Stone on tap at a given bar is every bit as important as delivery windows and tap handles. Her conversations may be largely about, say, her recent honeymoon to Italy, but in effect, the whole conversation is about selling beer.

Her workday often stretches into the late evening with beer dinners, pint nights, and special cask tappings. Such a lengthy, active schedule is not for the weak. Others have attempted to tail Lisa for a day, returning to the brewery bearing a look of a weary exhaustion and a newfound appreciation for their desk chair.

The moral of the story is that the beer doesn’t sell itself—even beer as good as ours—and a Stone Sales Representative’s day is not all knocking back pints with cheerful bar patrons. That said, it’s not exactly sweatshop labor either; Lisa gets to work with people she genuinely likes, selling beer that she legitimately enjoys. Not a bad gig, overall. But not an easy one, either.

Baird / Ishii / Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA On Its Way

Jacob McKean

Those of you who follow us on Facebook & Twitter know that we recently brewed a beer called Baird / Ishii / Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA as a benefit for Japanese tsunami relief. Bryan Baird—brewmaster & founder of Numazu, Japan’s Baird Brewing—and Toshi Ishii—former Stone brewer (1998-2001) & founder of Guam’s Ishii Brewing Co.—joined Stone Head Brewer Mitch Steele in crafting this truly unique beer.

As the name implies, this beer is “dry-hopped” with Sencha, a variety of whole-leaf Japanese green tea. Unique, no? Well, it’s a first for us.

But the excitement doesn’t end there. The hop varieties used to brew this hoppy IPA are downright eccentric. The bittering hop is American Warrior (nothing crazy there), but then we used Crystal hops and New Zealand Pacifica hops for the flavoring addition. The first dry-hop addition featured those same flavoring hops plus a brand spankin’ new hop variety from the Alsace region of France called Aramis. The second dry-hop addition features Sorachi Ace hops, which were originally developed in Japan, and the aforementioned Sencha tea.

Mitch, Toshi, and Bryan pose for the camera

The tentative release date for this innovative new beer is July 11th. If you typically see our collaboration beers in your area, you’ll very likely have access to this one.

For those that care, Aramis is a high-alpha Strisselspalt derivative, typically clocking in around 8% alpha acid. That means it imparts more bitterness than its parent variety, while providing an amped up version of its aroma and oil. If you have an intense interest in new hop varieties. we’ll delve a little deeper into the mysteries of Aramis in a future blog post.

Anywho, the point is that this beer has a lot of “firsts” in it. We’re looking forward to tasting it as much as you are.

You're About to Become Familiar with Quingenti Millilitre Bottles

Jacob McKean

They are the great white buffaloes of Stone’s line-up. Like a cross between a unicorn and a siren, they appear enticingly for the briefest instance, only to disappear in a flurry of whispers.

They are Stone’s barrel-aged beers and special treatments. Stone Imperial Russian Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels. Double Dry-Hopped Stone Ruination IPA. Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Aged in Red Wine Barrels. And many more.

A veritable sea of barrels taking up precious space in our brewery

Now, we are utterly thrilled to be announcing that some of these sudsy jackalopes will be available in quite debonair (if-we-do-say-so-ourselves) 500ml corked-and-caged bottles.

Here’s the rub: There will be very few of these bottles available, and irregularly at that. At least for the foreseeable future. Space is our biggest constraint, and filling up our brewery with barrels just isn’t an option. So if you can’t get these, we’re sorry, we really are. We’ll try to make more, and if you can make it to one of our events, there’s a chance you’ll get to try them on draft. But that’s the best we can do…for now.

Yeah, we've tasted these, and they're damn good

Without further ado, our first “Quingenti Millilitre” release will be…Ken Schmidt / Maui / Stone Kona Coffee Macadamia Coconut Porter Aged in Bourbon Barrels. Yeah, that’s right. We’re releasing that. All 672 bottles of it. Tentative release date: sometime in July.

Stay tuned for release details, but this will be a brewery-only release due to the very small quantity. If you need an excuse to visit America’s Finest City and come to our gorgeous Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, here’s an excuse. You’re welcome.

This. In bottles. Probably in July.

To keep the Quingenti Millilitre releases flowing, we’ve brought in a whole lot of new barrels, which are temporarily stacked in our cellar. Namely, we recently acquired 346 184 Scotch whisky barrels—some of which we’ve already filled—along with a handful of new wine barrels and bourbon barrels.

So expect to see the results of these delicious experiments released in bottles over the coming years. In fact, a small amount of 2011 Stone Imperial Russian Stout & 2011 Stone BELGO Anise Imperial Russian Stout—which will be released May 31st—is already resting gently in a variety of barrels.

But that’s not all, folks! We may well release Quingenti Millilitre bottles of our double dry-hopped beers or other unique treatments we dream up. So keep your barrel-aged ‘beerdar’ on. We’ll send updates here and on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Oh, and what the hell does Quingenti Millilitre mean (well, besides denoting something tasty)? It means quite simply “500ml,” which is the size of the special bottles.  And it’s the name we’ve given to the series (“Brewmaster’s Series” or “Brewer’s Special Reserve” and all that just sounded too cheesy).

You’re About to Become Familiar with Quingenti Millilitre Bottles

Jacob McKean

They are the great white buffaloes of Stone’s line-up. Like a cross between a unicorn and a siren, they appear enticingly for the briefest instance, only to disappear in a flurry of whispers.

They are Stone’s barrel-aged beers and special treatments. Stone Imperial Russian Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels. Double Dry-Hopped Stone Ruination IPA. Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Aged in Red Wine Barrels. And many more.

A veritable sea of barrels taking up precious space in our brewery

Now, we are utterly thrilled to be announcing that some of these sudsy jackalopes will be available in quite debonair (if-we-do-say-so-ourselves) 500ml corked-and-caged bottles.

Here’s the rub: There will be very few of these bottles available, and irregularly at that. At least for the foreseeable future. Space is our biggest constraint, and filling up our brewery with barrels just isn’t an option. So if you can’t get these, we’re sorry, we really are. We’ll try to make more, and if you can make it to one of our events, there’s a chance you’ll get to try them on draft. But that’s the best we can do…for now.

Yeah, we've tasted these, and they're damn good

Without further ado, our first “Quingenti Millilitre” release will be…Ken Schmidt / Maui / Stone Kona Coffee Macadamia Coconut Porter Aged in Bourbon Barrels. Yeah, that’s right. We’re releasing that. All 672 bottles of it. Tentative release date: sometime in July.

Stay tuned for release details, but this will be a brewery-only release due to the very small quantity. If you need an excuse to visit America’s Finest City and come to our gorgeous Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, here’s an excuse. You’re welcome.

This. In bottles. Probably in July.

To keep the Quingenti Millilitre releases flowing, we’ve brought in a whole lot of new barrels, which are temporarily stacked in our cellar. Namely, we recently acquired 346 184 Scotch whisky barrels—some of which we’ve already filled—along with a handful of new wine barrels and bourbon barrels.

So expect to see the results of these delicious experiments released in bottles over the coming years. In fact, a small amount of 2011 Stone Imperial Russian Stout & 2011 Stone BELGO Anise Imperial Russian Stout—which will be released May 31st—is already resting gently in a variety of barrels.

But that’s not all, folks! We may well release Quingenti Millilitre bottles of our double dry-hopped beers or other unique treatments we dream up. So keep your barrel-aged ‘beerdar’ on. We’ll send updates here and on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Oh, and what the hell does Quingenti Millilitre mean (well, besides denoting something tasty)? It means quite simply “500ml,” which is the size of the special bottles.  And it’s the name we’ve given to the series (“Brewmaster’s Series” or “Brewer’s Special Reserve” and all that just sounded too cheesy).

Cooking with Beer: Meatless Mondays, Pt. 1

Editor’s Note: Samantha, a Stone Indoctrination Specialist and certified cooking geek, is back with another installment of her drool-inducing “Cooking with Beer” series (you can check out all of her recipes on her personal cooking blog.) This is the first of a two part vegan meal, the second half of which we’ll bring you next Meatless Monday.

Greetings to my fellow beer-loving gourmands! In honor of Meatless Monday (an international movement encouraging people to give up meat at least one day a week), I bring you two fabulous vegan recipes full of local, seasonal veggies. These dishes are good for you and great for the planet; dishes your mother would be proud of.

By making the choice to eat local and in-season, you are reducing your carbon footprint, promoting soil health, and helping build a safer, more secure food economy. By choosing vegetarian meals (at least some of the time), you are helping prevent deforestation and the release of copious amounts of air and water pollution (see our full Meatless Monday’s post for more info.)

Let’s start with a lovely mixed grain salad with spring veggies.  You can use whatever mix of grains you like; I used black and white quinoa and Israeli couscous.  I then topped the whole thing off with lemon-Dijon vinaigrette spiked with Stone Cali-Belgique IPA.  The hops pair beautifully with the citrus notes of the dressing and really brightens the flavors of our green veggie medley.

Mmmmmmmushrooms

Mixed Grain Salad with Lemon/Dijon/Cali Vinaigrette

½ c. Israeli couscous

½ c. quinoa, rinsed

2 c. water

1 Tbsp. olive oil

8 spears asparagus, trimmed into 1-2 inch pieces (about ½ lb.)

6 green onions, white and light green parts cut into thin slices

1 small clove garlic, finely minced

½ c. shelled English peas

¼ c. blanched almond slices, toasted in a pan over low heat

Dressing

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp olive oil

3 Tbsp. Stone Cali-Belgique IPA

2 tsp. Dijon Mustard

Salt, to taste

Mix all dressing ingredients together in a cruet or dressing bottle.  Shake vigorously and set aside.

Mix quinoa and water in a small lidded pot. Bring to boil. Add couscous to pot and reduce to simmer over low heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes until water is absorbed and grain is tender. Pour into a colander and allow to cool.

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add asparagus, chopped green onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until bright green and fork tender. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to boil. Add shelled peas and cook for 1-2 minutes until just tender (not mushy). Drain.

Beer makes food NOMNOM

Toss grain, asparagus/onion mixture, and peas together in a large bowl. Pour the vinaigrette on top and toss to coat. Add toasted almonds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill in refrigerator, at least one hour. Pour an extra Tbsp. of Stone Cali-Belgique IPA on top of the salad (optional) and toss again before serving.

Next week we bring you a beautiful (and sophisticated looking) complimentary dish: mini-mushroom leek tarte tatins.