Over, Above & Down Under: Stone 19th Anniversary Thunderstruck IPA

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.

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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!

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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!

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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

Far More than Name-Dropping: Drew Curtis/Wil Wheaton/Greg Koch Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout

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.

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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.

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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.

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When it comes to brewing competitions, one can’t help but survey the field of entrants beforehand and speculate on what greatness may emerge from those crafty competitors. We like to think we know the members of the Stone Brew Crew pretty well—the IPA experts, the Belgophiles, the dark beer enthusiasts, the strong ale hoisters. Everybody gravitates towards certain styles and excels at crafting recipes for them. Just when we thought we had everyone pegged, along came our annual in-house brewing competition, the Stone Spotlight Series. This year’s winner, frankly, blew us out of the water. There’s no way we could have seen the blue-ribbon beer coming, especially from the duo that brought it to life, Brewing Supervisor Drew Neldon and Brewer Steve Via. Sit, stay and enjoy the story of Stone Spotlight: Imperial Mutt Brown Ale.

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A Mandarin orange wedge dipped in molten ganache, a Grand Marnier-infused 70% cacao truffle, a velvety sweet craft cocktail combining Cointreau and chocolate liqueur, one of those holiday specialty confections that looks like a milk chocolate orange and breaks apart into delicious citrusy-sweet segments…heck, even something as simple as a piece of chocolate and a slice of orange. Regardless of the edible example one references, the symbiotic flavors of chocolate and orange are as plentiful as they are scrumptious. So, when looking for yet another way to use complimentary ingredients to augment our time-honored recipe for Stone Smoked Porter, we decided to lean on this long-time favorite and add our own incredible iteration of cocoa-citrus pairability to the world. Enter Stone Smoked Porter w/Chocolate & Orange Peel, the third transformatively enchanting version of this peat-smoked stalwart to be bottled and distributed to Stone fans.

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You’ve heard the legend of a cavernous hall filled to the brim with beer from around the country. Maybe you’ve even experienced for yourself the glories of unlimited pours of more than 3,100 brews. But you haven’t seen the Great American Beer Festival—the country’s largest annual suds celebration—from the perspective of Team Stone before…until now. We just got back from this massive and spectacular event, and are ready to give you a behind-the-scenes view of our GABF experience

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