As I said before, Spaten was my gateway beer—the gateway to hell. Once my palate rejected the overly sweet requirements of my baby tongue, Stone was right there, waiting for me with an evil grin. My saucy side was lured by the Arrogant Bastard line of taste bud blasting beer. Double Bastard was twice the fun. Pale Ale was an excellent, never-let-you-down got-to “easy” beer.
According to legend, Stone was started up by two beer lovers (Steve Wagner and Greg Koch) who admired the Belgium tradition, but had a West Coast twist to offer. The guys who run the tour of the brewery insist the the heartbeat of Stone is and has always been super hoppy. The beers provide the obvious evidence.
The brewery is worth a look-see. Check out their website for the tour schedule (and be prepared for long waits and crowds). They’re now fancy-pants enough to sport a full service restaurant situated in a fly post-industrial concrete and steel affair. You can sit around one of the outdoor fire rings and enjoy a beer (or five) with friends. Rocks, benches, and a pond are strategically positioned around the property as well.
To my delight, they opened a satellite tasting room a few unfortunate blocks from my house. (The best party favor.) This has encouraged expansion of my Stone repertoire. I’m no longer a huge fan of hoppy West Coast style IPAs. Stone’s Smoked Porter puts on a decent show for a year-round pour. We tried the Vertical Epic for 11.11.11 (limited release for the ultimate binary day). Meaty but good. We’ve also tried Cali-Belgique. I remember this one being a little smoky and sharp.
However, one beer stands out. Naturally it’s a limited release. The 15th Anniversary Imperial Stout has a smooth coffee/chocolaty flavor hiding a beastly alcohol by volume percentage (generally between 10-13% when I’ve gone for a growler). Normal Stone fans (hop-lovers) might be a little disappointed, but stout and porter lovers will be pleasantly surprised.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Don’t drink, then think you’re cool to drive and speed off into the distance. The coolest person is the one that knows his/her limits and doesn’t eff-up other’s lives.