Since Greg Koch and Steve Wagner founded it in 1996, Stone Brewing Co. has been producing an ever-expanding line up of well-crafted and often in-your-face beers and interesting collaborations. Stone’s gargoyle mascot watches over each of these beers, attempting to draw in their ideal consumer and to scare off the Keystone-swilling undergrad that stumbled into the display. Don’t let it intimidate you. Known for its bold, flavorful and largely hop-centric beers, Stone has earned a reputation for brewing outstanding, unique beers while maintaining an unwavering commitment to sustainability, business ethics, philanthropy and the art of brewing. Today, we present Craft Beer Crosscut 3.27.17: A Flight of Stone, a five craft beer sample flight of the Southern California brewery’s talent.
Like Stone’s Enjoy By beers, Enjoy After also comes with a conspicuous date: 10.31.16. But instead of a countdown, this particular date’s something of an oven timer. It’s either a fun participatory experiment in cellaring, or a clever scheme to free up space in the brewery’s warehouse — where those beers would otherwise mature until the brewery deems them ready — by asking fans to take on the burden of cellaring the beer at home. Perhaps it’s a little of both. Anyway, this Belgian-style IPA mash-up has a straw-colored haze with a clean white head. Under the hop aroma the scent of citrus, coriander and general earthiness is nestled. You can expect notes of earthiness, spice, funk, tart fruit and more; each bottle is its own experimental microcosm and will produce a unique flavor profile that promises to be as tasty as it is unpredictable.
7.7% ABV, 80 IBU
Delicious IPA features Lemondrop and El Dorado hops that showcase vibrant citrus flavors, and is notable for what the brewers have removed from the brew: much of the gluten. An enzymatic process developed by White Labs (producers of myriad yeast strains used by craft brewers) breaks down the gluten proteins, and the results is a nearly gluten-free beer that avoids the pitfalls (like the off-putting mouthfeel) often seen in gluten-free brews. But the reduced gluten levels are not the defining feature of Delicious IPA. Living up to the name, the IPA demonstrates a terrific volume of complex hop flavors. With a curiously light yet still tongue-coating body, each sip explodes with flavor — lemon zest, lemon grass, Lemon Pledge — before the bitter bite cascades across the palate, where it lingers stubbornly but never becomes acrid.
9.4% ABV, 90 IBU
Stone launched the “fresh” series back in 2012 with this imperial India pale ale. The beer is packaged and shipped within 24 hours, and meant to be consumed by the date on the bottle, which is less than 40 days. Since then, a new definition of fresh IPA has been born. This intense double IPA is brewed with more than 10 different hops. Stone hop-bursts and dry-hops the beer to amp up its peach and tropical fruit notes. Devastatingly dank and golden.
7.2% ABV, 100 IBU
Stone Arrogant Bastard is less-than-amber but more-than-pale IPA with a little “oomph” in the malt and hops department. The malt profile of Arrogant Bastard, while not overwhelming, definitely has a good backbone of caramel, rich, and somewhat raisin-bread type toasty flavors. It has more richness than your standard IPA. This malt body is balanced with a very aggressive-tasting hop treatment using the Chinook, giving it a West Coast citrusy bitterness, but also contains a more rich, herbal, and maybe even a bit of a “rough” pungent element.
8.5% ABV, 100+ IBU
Filling our last taster glass is Stone Brewing’s Ruination 2.0, a craft beer that pours a dark gold, just on the edge of orange. The aroma is immediately super dank and resinous, piney, just West Coast classic turned up to 11, before giving way to grapefruit and orange fruit notes and grass. This beer wears its 100+ IBUs, with Magnum and Nugget hops providing a hefty dose of standout bitterness. Citra, Simcoe and Azacca hops provide the bountiful tropical fruit and resinous pine aromas. Combined, the rich tapestry of hops results in a taste profile rife with citrus, melon and tropical fruit flavors.