Pale By Comparison: Stone Pale Ale (1.0)

It was born in 1996 within the humble, rented (strategically near Pizza Port) Solana Beach condo of Stone Co-founder Greg Koch; a 99%/1% collaborative effort between Koch (the one percent in that equation) and fellow Co-founder/original Brewmaster Steve Wagner. Before Stone sold a single beer, the duo spent countless hours experimenting with a wide array of recipes in search of a brew worthy of becoming the world’s first taste of Stone Brewing Co. Such status was tough to live up to, and plenty of trial beers fell short, but when Koch and Wagner first tasted Stone Pale Ale, there was no question in their mind that it was the one!

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Maltier and more full-bodied than most American pale ales—not to mention tons hoppier than most beers at the time—it was a bold direction to go with the only beer in a fledgling portfolio. There was no proven market for a beer like Stone Pale Ale, so it was risky. Many accounts Koch called on tasted the beer and looked at him like he was crazy for thinking anybody would want to drink something so assertive. He was laughed out of a number of bars, pubs, taverns and eateries, but through it all he and Wagner never gave up on Stone Pale Ale. They had faith in the beer and their favorite thing about it was that it was so different from other beers in the mid-nineties suds landscape. That faith was further bolstered by the fact Pizza Port owner Vince Marsaglia saw fit to put the first-ever keg (and thousands of subsequent kegs) of Stone Pale Ale on at his brewpub. Those were big-time bragging rights and proof that people who really understood craft beer would, in turn, understand Stone Pale Ale and Stone Brewing Co.’s overall brewing approach.

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That theory proved legit. Behind a rising number of business owners willing to embrace more than fickle, fizzy, yellow macro-lager, Stone Pale Ale found platforms upon which to shine and, a year later, Stone Pale Ale became San Diego County’s first-ever brewed and bottled beer (first appearing in 22-ounce bottles in June 1997 before making it into 12-ounce six-packs in the spring of 1998). It’s been a steady favorite of our fans over the past 18-plus years amid an ever-changing craft beer landscape. However, everything has a lifespan; nothing is forever. Not even Stone Pale Ale. The same spirit of providing drinkers with something bolder and cutting edge that led to this beer’s creation has led brewers across the country to similarly up the flavor and vibrancy of their beers. That has led to evolving tastes among people who drink craft beer and a thirst for hoppier beers. That’s true of us as well, and, honestly, Stone Pale Ale doesn’t hit our palates with the same poignancy that it once did. That’s not the experience we endeavor to provide to our fans, so we decided in early 2014 that it was time to change things up.

A year ago, we challenged current Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele to come up with an updated version of Stone Pale Ale. We’re not quite ready to spill the hops regarding details. To be honest, we’re still making some final tweaks to the recipe. But suffice it to say, it’ll be something new and in keeping with the direction our brewery is headed. And, if the invigorating effect it has on our taste buds is any indication, it’ll be a beer you’ll be happy to make the acquaintance of. So, join us in most honorably discharging Stone Pale Ale, the beer that helped to build Stone Brewing Co. to what it is today, and ushering in a new era of bold, forward-thinking beer signaled by the upcoming arrival of Stone Pale Ale 2.0.

Fem-”Ale”: International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day

I was dumping a 55-pound bag of malted barley into a hopper when something occurred to me: I have probably never used more than 20 pounds of grain in a beer recipe, let alone the 500 pounds I was helping mill at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station. Usually Liberty Station Brewing Manager Kris Ketchum takes on this laborious task all by himself, but on March 8, a dozen women clad in pink boots and armed with can-do attitudes descended on the 10-barrel brewhouse to participate in the first ever International Women’s Collaboration Brew (IWCB) Day!

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A Cause for Gratitude: Beery Thanksgiving Recipes

Even if it’s just the oxygen coursing through our lungs, come this time of year, we all have something to be thankful for. We are all blessed to varying degrees and, without question, those of us who know, appreciate and get to enjoy spectacular craft beer have plenty to be thankful for in a day and age when there are so many high-quality ales and lagers available to satiate our palates. Surely, anybody reading this latest entry in the Stone Blog will be enjoying one or many tasty brews with their Thanksgiving Day vittles. We are very much in favor of that, but would like to suggest taking your Turkey Day artisanship to the next level by incorporating your beverage of choice directly into the food that graces your table. To help facilitate that, we’ve tapped one of our talented chefs, Jeff Stanko from Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Escondido, to provide a trio of Thanksgiving recipes made all the more delicious thanks to potent doses of Stone beers. Put down the Stove-Top and other fowl offerings, and give you and yours even more reason to be thankful this year.

Stone & Drake’s Collaborate to Celebrate

At Stone, we go to painstaking lengths to hand-pick the most talented and innovative individuals we can to fill out and enhance Team Stone. While our beer is what keeps our fans coming back for more, it’s the people behind the beer and this company that have gotten us to where we are today.

As you can imagine, we like to keep our people close to us—especially our brewmaster, Mitch Steele. The guy’s awesome! Good thing, because we have a consistently heavy production workload for him. Due to that and his terrific work ethic, the poor guy hasn’t had a proper vacation in some time. But, as much as we love him and want to keep him near, we were happy to grant him a recent request to take some time and head to Northern California. Mitch wisely hopped a plane before a brewhouse emergency led to that hall pass being revoked.

The Drake’s/Stone Quarter Century of Issues Celebrator 25th Anniversary Pale Ale brew crew (from left to right): Drake’s owner John Martin, Stone Northern California regional brewery rep David Hopwood, Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele, Stone San Francisco regional brewery rep Michael “Zippo” Parzick and, obviously the hardest working member of the team, Drake’s brewmaster Alexandra Nowell (on the brew deck).