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.
You try your best to have a civilized conversation; a cordial back-and-forth where two individuals tactfully and respectfully get down to brass tacks and get real with one another. You rehearse what you have to say in the mirror over and over, searching for just the right words to be sensitive yet firm, considerate yet straightforward. You do this, because you care deeply for the individual who will later replace that mirror. After all, much like that person staring back at you from that pane of reflective glass, the guy you have to have this sit-down with reminds you a lot of you. He is family, after all, and though you don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, there are undeniable bonds. You’ve been through everything together over the past 17 years and, though it sometimes felt like the distance between you was immeasurable, he was always there, the weight of his presence and that insatiable ego of his casting an ever-present shadow over every significant moment in a history that is storied in great part thanks to him. Still, you can’t let that sway you from this inevitable come-to-Jesus moment, so you sit him down and tell him that he’s gotten too big for his britches; enough that he’s soiling yours to a degree. You deliver what you hope is a masterfully convincing dissertation, ending it with an open invitation for your conversational partner to say something for themselves…perhaps even offer an iota of understanding. Heck, with any luck you might even get out of this one with a hug and some shared mistiness. But, no. Not with this Arrogant Bastard…
What does this mean for our sudden anti-hero? He’s hitting the road, but what does that mean? Your guess is as good as ours. We’ve housed this haughty rabble-rouser for the past 17 years and, though he’s always kept his distance, his omnipotence has been undeniable. Given that, one has to ask: What does this mean for us? For the Stone Brewing Co.? We’ll surely get along just fine, but things will certainly be different around here. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s a really bad thing. Again, your guess is as good as ours. We’ll all have to wait and see how it plays out, how this Bastard’s story plays out. It may be a tale marked by victory of the highest order, or it may be a long, winding road ending at a tragic dead-end—or off a cliff. But one thing’s for certain. It won’t be dull. And nothing will ever be the same again…
Were this blog post dated April 1, it’s doubtful anyone would take it seriously, for the subject of our latest communique is a most unusual beer that merits attention not only for its uniqueness, but for the art behind its crafting and its overall deliciousness. It’s these qualities that led to it winning our 2015 American Homebrewers Association-sanctioned homebrewing competition. For the first time ever, that annual event was held at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, providing plenty of room for attendees (the majority of which were recreational fermentationists) to roam about, tasting their way through the 27 homespun beers vying for bragging rights and the chance to be brewed at Stone and distributed across the country. That’s a heck of a grand prize. As such, our judges—Stone Co-founders Steve Wagner and Greg Koch, Craft Beer Ambassador “Dr.” Bill Sysak, and numerous members of our Brew Crew, Small Batch Team and Quality Assurance Department—spent a great deal of time and deliberation making sure the blue ribbon went to the most deserving and delectable of the bunch.
Another week, another revamped Stone classic. Seven short days after debuting Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0 to hop heads across the country, we’re ready to introduce a second second-take built to up hop potency and appeal: Stone Pale Ale 2.0. Whereas the former bears a great deal of sensual resemblance to its predecessor, Stone fans will find the latter to be completely reimagined. While hoppier than most beers of its kind, the original Stone Pale Ale possessed the type of copper-toned, caramely malt body associated with traditional British pale ales. In Stone Pale Ale 2.0, Brewmaster Mitch Steele and his crew have peeled back the malt curtain to reveal a golden-hued pale ale that falls in line with current craft beer enthusiasts’ tastes…including our own.
We’ve been (mis-)labeled “arrogant.” We get it. You brew up a beer called Arrogant Bastard Ale and have the audacity to demand that everybody be entitled to the finest beer today’s craftsmen and women can brew, and people form certain opinions. But in reality, we’re not arrogant. What we are is extremely passionate and confident in craft beer and our abilities in that arena. To a person, our Brew Crew works tirelessly to up their technical knowledge and abilities. From keeping up on best practices and emerging techniques for upping beer’s flavor, increasing the efficiency of our brewhouse, stimulating our yeast so they perform as optimally as possible or staying on top of the ever-changing hop crops and the immense influx of new botanical varietals being produced from the Pacific Northwest to Australia and New Zealand, Brewmaster Mitch Steele and his team have their hands (and heads) full. Each day offers a new opportunity to learn and grow, and our beers reflect that—perhaps more now than ever before.
Talk about mixed emotions. December 12, 2012 rolled around and, come 12:12 p.m., we were elated to finally be able to crack open a vertical tasting like no other. A few hours later, we felt a haze of gloom descend over us as we realized that experience we’d spent nearly 11 years preparing for was over, never to return. It was right there at our Stone Epic Festival, with 11 bottles representing every vintage of Stone Vertical Epic Ale gaping back at us with their empty, open maws, that it all sunk in. This chapter in the history of Stone Brewing Co. was done; eclipsed by the passage of time and a finite supply of triplicate day/month/year dates.
So far, 2015 has seen a flurry of activity here at Stone. This is nothing new. For several years, we’ve been hard at work debuting beers at a rapid and voluminous clip. But this year’s been different. In addition to introducing new brews like Stone Delicious IPA, 2015 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine – Extra Hoppy and 2015 Stone CHAI-SPICED Imperial Russian Stout, we’ve also broke the sad news that some of our beers are being retired, never to return to production again. First, it was Stone Levitation Amber Ale, followed almost immediately by Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA. Both were met with much lamenting, but none so much as the next beer to wave bye-bye. It’s no wonder, it’s only the first beer we ever produced beginning 19 years ago: Stone Pale Ale (which will make its valiant return to the suds scene as Stone Pale Ale 2.0 starting in April). Well, the shake-up isn’t over. There’s still one more beer that will be exiting production for eternity and, as hard as it is to say good-bye, the time has come. Spring 2015 will see the last-ever brew session for Stone Ruination IPA.
While we follow our own muse at Stone, we also pay attention to our fans. Believe it or not, even with more than 600,000 followers across all of our social media channels, we read each and every comment posted on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and more. It’s awesome to have fans that care enough to take time out to chime in on all things Stone, and every now and then, we glean suggestions that have serious merit. For instance, when we announced that our first ever beer, Stone Pale Ale, would be departing from our portfolio, we received a number of passionate comments. We went in knowing such an announcement would evoke emotional responses, because we, too, are fans of this 19-year-old mainstay. Early on in the social conversation, one of our fans asked for us to share the recipe for Stone Pale Ale so that, even though we won’t be brewing it anymore, it can live on for those with the gumption and wherewithal to brew it at home. This suggestion was immediately run up the flagpole to Stone Co-founders Steve Wagner and Greg Koch, who applauded the idea. The end result is this blog post, which contains the recipe for the soon-to-be-decommissioned Stone Pale Ale. We’re happy that this beer has meant so much to so many—ourselves included—and will have its place among craft beer enthusiasts beyond its lifespan in our brewhouse. Enjoy!
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!
The American craft brewing industry is extremely cohesive, with businesses mirroring each other from the West Coast to the East Coast, North to South, Alaska to Hawaii. Even so, San Diego is very unique. With more than 100 brewhouses having opened throughout the county over the past 25 years, the question we hear most is about competition within the industry. It’s an understandable inquiry (imagine having 100 cheese-makers in one county…yeah, we’re looking at you, Wisconsin!), but it always makes San Diego brewers scratch their heads. For the most part, we really don’t see other breweries as competitors. To us, they are our comrades in the fight for the rise in awareness and availability of high-quality beer in a world dominated by macrobeer. That’s the great thing about artisanal industries like craft beer—just like us, our compatriots are working on bettering the craft, and each great new beer gives us, and other breweries opportunities and ideas. It’s a “collaboration not competition” mindset, a constant alliance and source of inspiration among our breweries. We’ll admit that it’s far from the norm for most industries, so one feels compelled to pose the question: How did such a unique business culture arise?