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.
So far, 2015 has seen a flurry of activity here at Stone. This is nothing new. For several years, we’ve been hard at work debuting beers at a rapid and voluminous clip. But this year’s been different. In addition to introducing new brews like Stone Delicious IPA, 2015 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine – Extra Hoppy and 2015 Stone CHAI-SPICED Imperial Russian Stout, we’ve also broke the sad news that some of our beers are being retired, never to return to production again. First, it was Stone Levitation Amber Ale, followed almost immediately by Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA. Both were met with much lamenting, but none so much as the next beer to wave bye-bye. It’s no wonder, it’s only the first beer we ever produced beginning 19 years ago: Stone Pale Ale (which will make its valiant return to the suds scene as Stone Pale Ale 2.0 starting in April). Well, the shake-up isn’t over. There’s still one more beer that will be exiting production for eternity and, as hard as it is to say good-bye, the time has come. Spring 2015 will see the last-ever brew session for Stone Ruination IPA.
We, like many hopheads, are immensely bullish on the incredible flavor and intense citrusy, bitter impact provided by our ultra-fresh Stone Enjoy By IPA. But believe it or not, for us, it isn’t just about the beer. Yes, given the massive outpouring of affection for this West Coast double IPA, that last statement sounds kind of odd, but it’s true. Stone Enjoy By IPA was forged with greater intentions than mere satiation. It was designed to convey the importance, nay, the necessity of drinking hoppy beer when it’s fresh. We overtly stamp each batch with a 35-day Enjoy By date, and when that day comes up on the calendar, this beer should be out of your fridge and off retailers’ shelves. Drinking it beyond the date printed on that evergreen bottle simply won’t provide the same, vivid experience. But we went far beyond the bottle, communicating the facts on freshness via our Stone Enjoy By IPA website and our social media channels. It was a worthwhile endeavor, and much of that was thanks to you. Through social conversations online and over pints of this beer, many who had no idea how important beer freshness was have been converted, thus improving their quality of life and craft beer enjoyment forever. For those of you who helped increase the reach of that lesson, we thank you and are excited to share the steps we’ve taken to further broaden the reach of this important message and share in the many splendors of Stone Enjoy By IPA.
Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA—the mere mention of these five words (well, four words and an acronym, which technically equates to seven words) incites a Pavlovian brand of salivation among those who quest for maximum hoppage. We know this, not only because last year’s decadal release of this amped-up tribute to our double India pale ale, Stone Ruination IPA, gave us cause to wear bibs at work, but because Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA was so openly and vocally beloved by our fan base, that they requested—check that, demanded—it be brought back on an annual basis. We love our fans. We love hops. So, we listened to the former, secured a boatload of the latter, and now submit for the approval of slobbering masses throughout the country, Stone RuinTen IPA.
We’ll be the first to agree that brewing is an art, but as anyone who’s ever tried to scale up a recipe or dial in ABV for consistency knows, it’s also a science. As exemplified by the consistency of our beers, our brewers have the smarts to turn out well-engineered ales. That said, whenever we can, we like to keep the math as simple as possible. Take, for instance, one of our most popular beers, Stone Ruination IPA. That hop-heavy double India pale ale is a result of a basic mathematical equation—one-times-two—and proof that sometimes in life, there’s no need to overcomplicate things. When in doubt, just max it out!
“Bittersweet” is a good way to describe the feedback we’ve received from our fans over the last year and a half since the release of 2007’s Stone 11th Anniversary Ale. Bittersweet. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. The term is quite descriptive of the beer itself, of course, as it aptly describes the flavors of the esteemed big hopped, high gravity IPA with roasted malts. But the word “bittersweet” applies in other ways as well.
First of all, receiving unsolicited rants and raves from our fans whenever we release a new beer is undoubtedly a pretty sweet thing. (Truth is, those of us here at Stone just can’t get enough of hearing how great we are!) Yeah, that’s sweet. The accolades bestowed specifically upon Stone 11th Anniversary Ale, however, have been tempered in large part by the sobering—and yes, in many instances, bitter—acknowledgment that this wonderful, ebony-hued gem had all but disappeared from the shelves shortly after its debut, likely never to be seen again. People begged and pleaded for its return in their calls and emails, and I did my best to break it to them gently. Stone Anniversary Ales are like comets, I would explain, bursting forth gloriously but all too briefly from the heavens—and then exiting beyond our earthly dispensation, leaving us wistfully agape in thirsty wonder…or some damn thing like that. The point is, we’re sorry kids, that’s just the way it is sometimes.
Sigh…but not all the time!
So, to all those who still mourn the passing of the late, great Stone 11th Anniversary Ale, it’s time to wipe away those tears and crack open this bottle of Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. Go ahead, do it. Hmmm…taste familiar?
Brace yourself, bereaved fans of Stone 11th Anniversary Ale, for your joyous new day has finally come! It’s like your first crush–you know, the one who broke your heart when she/he decided to go to the junior prom with what’s-their-name–has suddenly come back to you to go for a cruise down the main drag on Friday night. It’s like…it’s like finding that long lost gold watch, given to you by your father, who got it from his father, who got it from his father. It’s like when your best buddy in the world, Sam the family dog, finally sauntered up the front porch steps one sunny afternoon after having been on a six-week runaway. Yes, it’s just like that.
And it’s like this: A brilliantly hopped double IPA–providing a wake up call of floral and citrus aromas–backed up by a deliciously smooth and dark roasted maltiness. You get the best of both worlds with this black double IPA.
Remember, though, this is one of our Limited Releases (like Stone Cali-Begique IPA) that we fit it into the brewing schedule whenever we can. It has begun showing up on draft only in Southern California, but will slowly be making make its way to other areas across the country. Keep your eye out for 22 ounce bottles showing up in January, and check our distribution page for where they’re heading. Be sure to savor the moment when this Sublime brew comes your way, and don’t be afraid to feel a little Self-Righteous. After all, you have impeccable taste.
Our seventh version of the Vertical Epic series was inspired by some of the wonderful Belgian beers that Steve and I tasted during our trips to Europe to brew “Stone California Double IPA” at the Shepherd-Neame brewery in Kent, England. This ale was served at the J.D. Wetherspoons pub chain during their International Real Ale Fest in March of 2008, and was great to brew and a very fun project, but that’s another story.
Brussels is about a 2 hour train ride from London (going through the “Chunnel”) so one weekend while we were in England, we decided to shift gears from our steady diet of cask-conditioned English Ales and make the quick trip to Belgium. We had many great beers during the 2 day visit, as well as nice tours of Palm Brewery and Cantillon. And don’t ever miss the Belga Café in Brussels-the hand pumped Boon Gueuze was unbelievable! One of the best beers we had was a rare bottle given to us by Glenn Payne, one of our companions for the trip. We brought this bottle of Duvel Triple Hop back to Escondido with us and Steve and I tasted it with Greg and John Egan, and pretty much decided right then and there to brew a hoppy Belgian Golden for our 2008 Epic.