With nice weather around the corner (hopefully), we’re heading into beer season. I’m thinking big fans of Stone (and there are plenty) are year round beer drinkers, but for many of our customers, warmer weather puts them in the mood. Something like what happens with rosé.
We were pleased to welcome Jeff Porter to lead us through the tasting. He’s the NW Regional Brewery Representative and a knowledgable beer drinker who led us through the tasting as the best of the wine guys would. Lots of swirling, sniffing, (low key) talk of aromas, and even food pairings. It was a lot of fun and kind of gave me (a hard-core wine drinker) the beer bug.
A little on Jeff ...
He’s been with Stone Brewing about three years, the first two as a rep in San Diego and now as the NW brewery representative in our neck of the woods. He was a home-brewer before going professional with his hobby, and he’s originally from Van Nuys (LA).
A little about Stone Brewing …
The Stone Brewing Co. was started by two beer-lovers: Steve Wagner (beer-lover/brewer) and Greg Koch (beer-lover/business guy). They boast that between the two of them they have visited (and drunk beer at) over 140 different breweries in the US & Europe. Long story short, they got some investors and in summer 1996 they tapped their first beer – Stone Pale Ale. Since then they’ve developed a nice healthy cult following of people who love their brews. Here are the beers we tasted & some tasting notes to go with:
Levitation Pale Ale (12oz)$4.00/case $3.20
Notes: This beer is a new one for Stone Brewing and enjoyed its national release the same day as our tasting, and apparently it has taken off. Jeff said that in the week since the launch that they’ve gone from producing 1 vat a week to 5. It’s deep amber in color with big hoppy flavors and a solid malt backbone. At 4.4%, it enjoys a lower alcohol content.
Arrogant Bastard Ale (22oz)$7.00/case $5.60
Notes: The first words Stone uses to describe this beer on the website, is: “You probably won’t like it”. Jeff was a little friendlier, calling it aggressive. Now I only had a 1-oz sip of this beer, but I liked it. It was a little in you face, but it was interesting and you knew where it stood. It’s classified as an American Strong Ale and it’s characterized by strong malty, hoppy flavors.
Stone IPA (22oz) $7.50/case $6.00
Notes: India Pale Ale is by definition higher in hops and alcohol. Stone IPA has both strong aromas and flavors of hops creating a pleasantly bitter experience.
Cali Belgique IPA (22oz) ~ limited ~ $11.00/case $8.80
Notes: Stone’s brewers went and hung out at Duvel in Belgium and visited other Belgian breweries to see how they created this type of beer. What they ended up with is their Stone IPA recipe with a special Belgian yeast strain, creating an interesting new beer, a fusion of Belgian style with American influences. The Cali Belgique IPA is a little sweeter than the Stone IPA, with flavors of coriander & orange peel.
Old Guardian Barley Wine (22oz) ~ limited ~ $11.00/case $8.80
Notes: Barley wines can be sweet, and this one is, but the sweetness is offset by the bitterness of the hops, making for well-balanced experience. You also get nice orange, citrusy flavors from the hops. Can drink now or store for several years.
Stone Smoked Porter (22oz) $7.50/case $6.00
Notes: This was a rich, dark brown beer, with suble flavors of smoke from the peat smoked malt (similar to how scotch is made), chocolate and coffee. This is a great food beer. Delicious with roasted meats & BBQ(due to the smoky flavors), but also recommends going sweet. They serve jalapeno blue cheese smoked porter cheesecake at the brewery that he says is killer.
Stone Imperial Russian Stout (22oz) $11.00/case $8.80
Notes: This Russian Stout ranks top 3 in the world. It’s a massive beer, hoppy (as all Stone’s beers are), but with lovely, slightly sweet flavors of licorice and chocolate. At the tasting, we tried both a 2007 & 2009, to see the difference. As with wine, the older vintage was smoother, more mellow.
A little tip that Jeff gave re: whether or not to lay beer down …
Drink IPA as fresh as possible. Bigger beers with higher alcohol and higher hops content can be cellared for a few years. Are they better after a little time? That’s for you to decide …
Contributor: Julie Howe