We’ve Exported Mitch Steele

Jacob McKean

That’s right, his last blog post on our struggles to control chill haze in Stone IPA was such a hit, we rewarded him with a free trip to the U.K. Well, that may not be how it actually went down, but what the hell.

Here’s what’s happening: we shipped Stone’s Brewmaster, Mitch Steele, off to England on Monday to brew a collaboration beer at Wadworth’s historic Northgate Brewery in Wiltshire. Why, you ask? Because an 800-strong chain of pubs called Wetherspoon’s & Lloyd’s #1 are holding a two and a half week long Real Ale & Cider Festival, during which Mitch’s collaboration beer will be served.

The idea? To brew a Stone-style Wadworth beer. Just what in the hell does that mean? It means a 4.5% ABV beer called “San Diego Session IPA”, and as the name implies, it’s  a comparatively low alcohol beer hopped like crazy with a combination of British & American hops, including some exciting newfangled varieties.

For those of you who brew your own beer or just like to geek out on beer recipes, here’s the run down. The malt bill consists of all English malts, primarily pale malt with 5% each of crystal & Munich malt. The hop situation is this: Target for bittering and Centennial, Columbus, Amarillo, Delta, and Calypso for flavoring & dry-hopping. The beer will be fermented with Wadworth’s house yeast strain, a traditional English variety that will contribute a bit more sulfur than Stone’s yeast.

This decidedly unique mash-up of Stone’s and Wadworth’s brewing style will be served on cask starting October 5th at the aforementioned Wetherspoon’s festival. A variety of other American craft brewers are in the U.K. to brew beers for the festival as well, so the American brewing renaissance should be well represented.

One interesting tidbit about Wadworth: the brewery employs the last Master Brewery Cooper (maker of wooden barrels) in the U.K., which allows them to serve some of their beer from fresh wooden casks. Pretty cool, eh?

Stone the top rated beer brewed in the UK. Wait, what?

Matt Steele
Bryon Wischstadt, our beloved IT Director, recently stumbled upon a surprising tidbit on Ratebeer.com. He was perusing some of the ranking lists when he came across the Best Beers of Britain page. On the top of the list in the number one slot was “Stone California Double IPA.” Understandably, his first reaction was—“Wait, what!?”

Best Beers of Britain

Best Beers of Britain

Ok, so this link is a little old, but it missed our radar when it was fresh. You can find the latest link here (sans Stone California Double IPA, since it’s now a retired beer). But for a fleeting moment, we were in the number one spot for beers brewed in Britain in 2008. How the hell did that happen? Let me explain.

Steve and Mitch enjoying a beer at Shepherd Neame. Read Steve's notes from last year's e-mail nesletter.

Steve and Mitch enjoying a beer at a tour room bar at Fullers. The man behind the bar is Fullers brewer Derek Prentice. Click on the photo above to read Steve's notes from the 2008 Stone email newsletter.

Last March, Great Britain’s JD Wetherspoons pub group held the world’s largest Real Ale Festival and decided it just wouldn’t be complete without a style known to hop heads as the “West Coast IPA.” So who did they turn to to brew this hoppy masterpiece?  You guessed it—our very own Brewmaster Steve Wagner and Head Brewer Mitch Steele. Stringent international importing regulations and a mountain of paperwork, however, made getting the beer across the Pond rather tricky. Luckily, some very wise minds decided, “if we can’t import the beer, why not import the brewers?” So Steve and Mitch scored the trip of a lifetime and brewed a special batch of Stone California Double IPA at the oldest operating brewery in the UK, Shepherd Neame in Kent.

Mitch with talented former Stone brewer, Toshi Ishii. After leaving Stone, Toshi founded Yo-Ho Brewing Co. in Tokyo. He contributed Japan's first Real Ale to the festival, Yo-Ho Tokyo Black Real Ale.

Mitch with talented former Stone brewer, Toshi Ishii. After leaving Stone, Toshi founded Yo-Ho Brewing Co. in Tokyo. He contributed Japan's first marketed Real Ale to the festival, Yo-Ho Tokyo Black Real Ale.

The beer was an instant hit. In fact, they sold out of the beer so fast that they forgot to save us a keg to serve at our Stone Company Picnic. We were flattered by its popularity, but we would have liked to taste it ourselves! Nevertheless, we’re proud to have once laid claim to the number one beer brewed in the UK, even if it was only for a brief time (and the result of an unlikely technicality).

-Matt Steele