Our beloved gardener, Chili, stumbled upon a pleasant surprise this morning as he was mowing the lawn in our Gardens. We thought we would share his discovery with you…
The ducklings are the newest additions to our Gardens, which have been enjoying a Springtime boom. We’re glad to be graced with their presence, brightening an already tranquil Tuesday morning here at Stone.
At a whopping eleven ducklings, this is the largest clutch we've had yet. Click the picture for the flickr set.
Stone and homebrewers go way back. We’ve been hosting the monthly meetings of the local homebrew club, The Society of Barley Engineers, since 1996—back before we even had any tanks in our original building in San Marcos. To this day they still meet the first Wednesday of every month upstairs in the Bistro (the Barley Literates also meet in our Bistro). We’ve also offered up many of our recipes for homebrewers to attempt their own versions of our beers, including our Vertical Epic Challenge, which challenges homebrewers to brew clones of our various Stone Vertical Epic Ales. Steve Wagner, our Co-founder and Brewmaster, even got his start as a homebrewer:
Needless to say, we understand the importance of the homebrewing community. That’s why we’ve hosted an American Homebrewers Association Membership Rally every year since we opened the Bistro. Aside from bolstering the ranks of the AHA, these rallies provide a casual forum for homebrewers to share each other’s creations, chat with professional brewers, and bond with other homebrewers. Our rallies keep getting bigger and better every year.
When it came time to plan this year’s AHA Membership Rally, we decided to up the ante on our homebrewing competition. This time the winning brew would be brewed on our system to be served here at Stone. With the strength of our local homebrew scene, we knew the response would be phenomenal—and it was. Members of So. Cal. homebrew clubs delivered twenty-three incredibly tasty brews, along with four outstanding brews submitted by individual homebrewers.
List of Official Entries
We were quite pleased by the strong showing of enthusiastic homebrewers. According to AHA Director, Gary Glass, this was the biggest AHA Rally EVER in terms of RSVP’s and new members. That’s a stat to be proud of, and with the help of local homebrewers we’ll top that next year.
Homebrewers came from near and far to take part in the blind tasting and cast their vote for their favorite. Many drove several hours from neighboring counties to participate, but long time Stone fans Roberto and Jade Saldivar had them beat. They trekked all the way from Dublin, CA, (near San Francisco), where they are part of a homebrew club called Mad Zymurgists. Roberto and Jade displayed true dedication by making the long trip down to one of their “favorite places in the world” just to attend the rally. Noticing my age, they jokingly added “We’ve been Stone fans since way before you were here.”
As the polls closed, four beers emerged as fan favorites. Many attendees were impressed by Eric Holden’s The Event Horizon, an innovative Vanilla and Peppercorn Imperial Russian Stout, as well as Jeremy Jerome’s Admiral Nelson—a tasty Rye IPA. Attendees also delighted in Brad Sayles’s Kalifornien Kolsch, a refreshing take on a Kolsch beer, and Ken Schmidt’s fantastic Aloha Plenty Porter with Kona Coffee, toasted coconut and macadamia nuts. After tallying all the votes, it turned out these were the top four beers.
Once the final four were determined, an all-star Stone tasting panel began the difficult task of judging the winner of Stone’s March Madness Competition. The panel consisted of Stone CEO Greg Koch, Head Brewer Mitch Steele, Beverage Coordinator “Dr.” Bill Sysak, Brewer Jeremy Moynier, Web Programmer (and member of Quaff) Bill Sobieski, Packaging Supervisor Kris Ketcham, Art Director Mike Palmer, and Marketing Director Chris Cochran.
All four beers were expertly crafted, but only one could prevail. After several minutes of tense deliberation, Ken Schmidt’s Aloha Plenty surfaced as the clear winner. Mitch Steele announced the four finalists, and then presented Ken Schmidt as the winner. Ken was psyched to claim the grand prize. “I had been thinking about the recipe for six years, said Ken, “but it was Garrett’s (Garrett Marrero of Maui Brewing Co.) Coconut Porter that inspired me to go ahead with it. I wanted to brew something that infuses all of the elements of the islands and captures their essence.”
Winner Ken Schmidt (right) celebrating with Stone CEO Greg Koch
Mitch Steele was impressed with Ken’s Aloha Plenty, calling it “a phenomenal beer.” He’s looking forward to brewing it with Ken (and possibly Garret) here at Stone. “We’ll have to figure out how to toast a lot of coconut and get our hands on a lot of macadamia nuts,” he said, “but I think it’s going to be great.”
As promised, Ken will have the chance to brew his Aloha Plenty on our system to be served here, so watch out for it on tap in the Bistro. Also, because the brew had previously won a Beer Judge Certificate Program sanctioned homebrew competition, we’re submitting it to compete in the Pro-Am Competition at the GABF. To top it off, Greg Koch hinted at a possible three-way collaboration with Ken, Garrett Marrero from Maui Brewing Co. and Mitch Steele. Ken was all smiles, admitting that “it will be so cool to brew on Stone’s system.”
From left to right: Chris Cochran, Mitch Steele, Ken Schmidt, Gary Glass, Greg Koch, Mike Palmer
We were blown away by the quality of all the submissions. Our local homebrewers are arguably some of the best in the nation, and they once again proved that they’re capable of producing amazing beers. We can’t wait for next year’s AHA Rally, but in the meantime, head over to the AHA website to become a member and join some of the most prestigious homebrewers in the nation. Cheers to Ken for a job well done, and congrats to the runners-up. All the beers were phenomenal, but if you didn’t get a chance to taste Ken’s Aloha Plenty at the rally, you missed out. You don’t want to miss it again, so stay tuned for the upcoming collaboration, and get ready to taste “the essence of the islands.”
You may not have heard, but we have a really cool homebrew competition happening on Saturday, March 21st in the Gardens. It’s part of an American Homebrewer’s Association Rally we’re holding that day to get more people to join the AHA. By joining that day for $33 you get all the cool perks for being a member, but you also get to judge at our homebrew competition. This one has a really cool twist though, the winner of this homebrew competition gets the chance to brew their creation on our system and have it served here. Deciding such a fate for a single homebrew is quite a bit of power to wield, and with how great our local homebrew scene is – a damn delicious way to spend a Saturday if I say so. Hope to see you there! Get all the nitty gritty details here…
As the title of this post indicates, I’m not taking the point of view that we came up with something entirely new or that we’re by any stretch of the imagination ahead of the curve on this one. You guys have been hounding me for well over 12 months to put upcoming events and growler fills on Google so you could subscribe via your web calendars, calendar applications and wireless devices. Instead of the marvel of global syncing updating your calendars, you had to visit a static web page to find out what was going on. Well, it’s not that I didn’t see the importance of this, it was just hard to keep up with everything we were doing day to day without updating another system outside our website.
So hey, it should have been done a long time ago – but nonetheless, it’s here! You can now find calendars for our Growler Fills, Bistro Beer Lineup, Stone Special Release Dates and Special Events. You can subscribe to them all or pick and choose right here…
You can thank Matt Steele for plugging away to fill up those calendar dates and our Graphic Artist, Jen Knudson, for embedding it into our site (you’ll find it on our calendar event page and growler fill page to start). You’ll also find these events entered into Facebook, posted on Twitter and showing up on Flickr once they pass. If you find us behind the curve on other things, please let me know!
Each year we put out the word to “Drag your big fat cans over to Stone!” for our annual collection for the North County Food Bank. This time we had the fun idea to give a little incentive for your good deeds: If you manage to fill the food collection bucket to the top, we pull out a rare keg from our archive for growler fills. We put out the word right before Thanksgiving, and the response has been phenomenal. In particular, today has been astonishing.
Between Team Stone and Stone Fans, we filled three big buckets past the top as of last week. The third bucket was sitting in the hall of our offices spilling over on the floor this morning with the fourth bucket barely filled in the Stone Company Store. Matt Steele called the good folks at the North County Food Bank to come and pick up the third bucket, and they were excited by the “beautiful!” news. Well, they’ll get the sweet surprise of having to lug away twice what they were expecting! That’s right, over the past six hours Stone Fans filled the fourth bucket, which means Erick Gordon in the store just put on a keg of Alesmith/Mikkeller/Stone Belgian Style Triple Ale.
This is by far the best turn out we’ve had from any year, and I’m excited to see how much we’ll have collected by New Year’s Day. I’m always moved by the show of support we get from our charity fund raisers and even in these troubled times your goodwill (clearly illustrated by the food buckets) is overflowing.
Cheers to all you folks for showing what a great bunch of Beer-Drinking-Humanitarians we all are. So keep dragging your big fat cans over to Stone, and have a Merry Christmas!