Imagine an entire month devoted to hoppy beer. Hop cones, humulus lupulus, acids both alpha and beta celebrated with great fervor and the hoisting of many pints of double and triple India pale ales. It’s a most glorious scene for the mind’s eye to survey. Now open your eyes and ready your palate, because things are about to get really real courtesy of Stone Ruination Nation. This month-long, multi-faceted homage to the glory of hops kicked off on July 1 and will carry through the entire month! That’s right, we didn’t go with some lame, 28-day month. We specifically aimed for the first month offering 31 summery days so we could push things to the max under optimal IPA enjoyment conditions. Now all we need is for you to help make Stone Ruination Nation all it can be…and we promise to make it worth your while!
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.
You try your best to have a civilized conversation; a cordial back-and-forth where two individuals tactfully and respectfully get down to brass tacks and get real with one another. You rehearse what you have to say in the mirror over and over, searching for just the right words to be sensitive yet firm, considerate yet straightforward. You do this, because you care deeply for the individual who will later replace that mirror. After all, much like that person staring back at you from that pane of reflective glass, the guy you have to have this sit-down with reminds you a lot of you. He is family, after all, and though you don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, there are undeniable bonds. You’ve been through everything together over the past 17 years and, though it sometimes felt like the distance between you was immeasurable, he was always there, the weight of his presence and that insatiable ego of his casting an ever-present shadow over every significant moment in a history that is storied in great part thanks to him. Still, you can’t let that sway you from this inevitable come-to-Jesus moment, so you sit him down and tell him that he’s gotten too big for his britches; enough that he’s soiling yours to a degree. You deliver what you hope is a masterfully convincing dissertation, ending it with an open invitation for your conversational partner to say something for themselves…perhaps even offer an iota of understanding. Heck, with any luck you might even get out of this one with a hug and some shared mistiness. But, no. Not with this Arrogant Bastard…
What does this mean for our sudden anti-hero? He’s hitting the road, but what does that mean? Your guess is as good as ours. We’ve housed this haughty rabble-rouser for the past 17 years and, though he’s always kept his distance, his omnipotence has been undeniable. Given that, one has to ask: What does this mean for us? For the Stone Brewing Co.? We’ll surely get along just fine, but things will certainly be different around here. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s a really bad thing. Again, your guess is as good as ours. We’ll all have to wait and see how it plays out, how this Bastard’s story plays out. It may be a tale marked by victory of the highest order, or it may be a long, winding road ending at a tragic dead-end—or off a cliff. But one thing’s for certain. It won’t be dull. And nothing will ever be the same again…
You’ve heard about hops. You know when they go into wort and what dry-hopping is. Heck, you even know they grow on bines, not vines! But do you know the how and why hops act the way they do in beer? Why they turn bitter and why they oxidize? We’ve gathered a wealth of knowledge in our years of brewing bitter beers…and we’re all about sharing the wealth. We’ve talked about the top-level usage of hops before, and now we’re going to dive into the anatomy of these cones.
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.
Long ago, before bottled beer could be purchased at a supermarket–heck, before supermarkets–some clever folks decided they didn’t want to be limited to drinking beer in pubs. After all, enjoying a pint at the bar is fine, but getting home to your family and enjoying a beer with your home-cooked meal is pretty epic, too. So they decided to have additional pints poured into a container (usually a metal pail back then) they could then take home and enjoy. My own grandfather told me his father used to send him to the local pub with a coffee can and the instructions: “Not too much foam.” (Dad must have had a pretty good fake ID.) It’s been a while since the days of filling any old container with draft beer. Somewhere along the way, the word “growler” became common terminology for a glass jug in which to carry home draft beer from a local brewery.
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.