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.
Life on the keg line ain’t easy. Every shift is an eight-hour marathon of non-stop keg-filling, but Steve Via makes it look like a breeze. Steve recently shattered the record for amount of kegs filled in one eight-hour shift, filling a whopping 304 full-sized kegs—and all while the rest of the world was sleeping (he works the overnight shift).
The previous record was 282 kegs (nothing to scoff at!), held by Brandon Uhl who now works as an Assistant Brewer. Apparently Steve had a hunch that he was going to make Stone history. Before his shift he told Brandon, “Dude, I’m gonna break your record today.” Steve may have eaten his Wheaties and anticipated a stellar performance, but I doubt he expected to surpass the previous record by a staggering 22 kegs.
Steve is a keg-filling machine. Cheers to him for a job well done. Of course, kegging isn’t a completely solo affair; Steve had a bit of help from his compatriots. At the beginning and end of every shift, guys on the keg line clean up from the previous shift and set-up for the following shift. In Steve’s case, Rob Curnutt set up the equipment for Steve before his shift, and Erick Szaras cleaned up after Steve’s shift. That’s why it’s called “Team” Stone.
Steve has set the bar incredibly high, but we have no doubt that our fantastic keg line can rise to the challenge. Keep up the good work guys!