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
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’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.
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.
You might have heard we released 120 beers last year. Within that 120 were our core beers, dated editions of Stone Enjoy By IPA, collaborations, Liberty Station beers, Stochasticity Project experiments and a multitude of others. Even we had trouble keeping up with this onslaught of ales, so confusion among our fans is understandable. But there’s always a rhyme and reason to our madness. With multiple naming conventions (and design conventions failing that), our releases all have their rightful place in our family of beers. Below, we’ll break it down for you, bottle by bottle, and demystify our portfolio.
India pale ales are our bread-and-butter here at Stone. We love them as much as you do. Similarly, we get an immeasurable amount of satisfaction out of experimenting with new hop combinations to create IPAs with flavor profiles that vary from what we’ve thus far experienced. The arrival of Stone Delicious IPA provides a tangible example of why continual IPA and hop exploration are so fulfilling. With the new Lemondrop varietal as a centerpiece and a massive dry-hop comprised exclusively of lemony El Dorado hops from Washington State, this beer lives up to its name behind a plethora of tart, citrusy notes and a stunning grove-like, lemon tree bouquet, providing a graceful yet in no way subtle one-two punch to the senses. Our newest IPA is unique to our stable of beers in every way…including the fact it just so happens to be our first gluten-reduced offering.
We pride ourselves on being unpredictable, but we’re able to be honest with ourselves and say that, when it comes to our annual anniversary beer releases, fans know what to expect—something extremely hoppy! And most years, that means an over-the-top India pale ale. Ten out of the 17 anniversary beers we’ve produced to-date have been IPAs, including the past four consecutive years. So, it should come as no surprise that this year, our milestone-celebrating beer is another IPA. But, much as we’ve refused to be completely predictable with our anniversary IPAs (the past four years have featured an imperial British-style IPA, double black IPA, lemon verbena-infused imperial rye IPA, and 100% German-hopped double IPA), 2014’s commemorative hop monster is extremely original. In fact, we’re billing Stone 18th Anniversary IPA as the “hoppiest golden-brown IPA on Earth!” (Yes, that’s our subtle brand of sarcasm you’re picking up there!)
We can see the headlines now: Stone makes another IPA! The world is shocked at such a divergence from a company that hardly ever explores hoppy beer styles. Yes, that’s sarcasm! Obviously, no one will be shocked to discover we’re making yet another aggressive IPA. We’ve never tried to hide our lust for hops. Heck, we freely fly our hophead flag. But we’re sure the question will arise. Stone has already made a bunch of IPAs, so why make another. Isn’t the already lupulin-obsessed market saturated with hoppy beers? And who says the world needs another IPA, anyway? We do!