Beer of the Week: Stone Enjoy By 7-4-13

Stone Brewing has a great series of hoppy beers called “Enjoy By”. Basically, these beers are made to be consumed fresh and done so by the date on the bottle. These beers come out about once a month and are generally available in better bottle shops in a 22 oz. size with the price varying depending on the beer. This version of the beer was a double IPA and not exactly what you would call a small beer.

From the Stone website:

  •  Style: Double IPA

  • ABV:      9.4%

  • Bottled      On: 05.31.13

  • Enjoy      By Date: 07.04.13

You have in your hands a devastatingly fresh double IPA. While freshness is a key component of many beers – especially big, citrusy, floral IPAs – we’ve taken it further, a lot further, in this IPA. You see, we specifically brewed it NOT to last. We’ve not only gone to extensive lengths to ensure that you’re getting this beer in your hands within an extraordinarily short window, we made sure that the Enjoy By date isn’t randomly etched in tiny text somewhere on the label, to be overlooked by all but the most attentive of retailers and consumers. Instead, we’ve sent a clear message with the name of the beer itself that there is no better time than right now to enjoy this IPA.

130704_bottleThe beer pours golden orange in color with an off white head. Notes of lemon, orange and grapefruit dominate the nose with an ever so slight note of grain. The beer starts off surprisingly mild for a double IPA with a pleasantly light bitterness before reminding you that, yes, this is a double IPA and quickly moving into the intense citrus range with orange and grapefruit dominating with some citrus peel thrown in for good measure. Those flavors stick around for a long time before fading with a light resin on the back of the palate and a slight sweetness on the front mixed with the residual citrus notes still trying to fade. I wish the beer had slightly more balance as the intense citrus was nice but the bitterness came and went and there was some alcohol burn on the back of the throat which made the beer a little tougher to drink. Overall, it is still a fine double IPA and worth giving a shot.

Stone’s Enjoy By 7-4-13 was a blast triggering 3 fireworks out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Stone Collaboration Cherry Chocolate Stout

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Finally the last of the Stone Collaboration Beer reviews. This one had been hiding in my notebook, so that is why I missed it. I love stout, I love cherries and I love chocolate and when you put them together well, it can be an out of body experience. Stone got together with Troegs brewing out of Pennsylvania and a couple of San Diego home brewers, Jason Fields and Kevin Sheppard, to produce this beer. From the Stone website:

 The rich, smooth stout was brewed in late April, with a blend of dark-roasted specialty malts, Callebaut chocolate liquor, vanilla beans, and 9000 pounds of dark and tart cherries. “Seeing how much the recipe was blown up to brew it on this system is amazing,” Jason chimes in. “And getting to work with everybody… it’s been so cool.”

 Single 12-oz bottles
Available in: AK AZ CA CO DE FL IL KY MA MD MN NC NJ NM NY OH OR PA SC TX VA VT WA
7.3% abv, 37 IBUs
2448 cases producedccs

I paid $4.99 for my 12oz. bottle.

The beer pours jet black with a mahogany head. Copious amounts of roasted malt on the nose with hints of cocoa nibs and a very small amount of cherries if you go looking for them. The beer starts out slightly sweet before quickly transitioning to the roasted malt and finishes long with hints of cherries during the fade. As you make it further into the beer, the cherries become more pronounced and the roast is replaced by a pleasant milk chocolate finish – it reminded me of a Theo Chocolates cherries and almond bar and I was looking for the roasted almonds when I was drinking it.

This beer was fantastic and I really wish that they would brew it again.

I cannot tell a lie, the Stone Collaboration Cherry Chocolate Stout coms in swinging a 5 Cherry Trees out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Stone Collaboration Highway 78 Scotch Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Next up in the Stone Collaboration series is the Highway 78 Scotch Ale brewed in conjunction with Green Flash and Pizza Port – making this one an all-California affair. This one came in a 12 oz. bottle for $4.99. I couldn’t find the product page on the Stone website, but I did find their press release, so here is what they say:

Green Flash/Pizza Port Carlsbad/Stone Highway 78 Scotch Ale (named after the 18 mile stretch of asphalt that unites us) is an atypical creation for all three breweries. It’s a very malty (read: NOT HOPPY) style of beer that we formulated with three different crystal malts, chocolate malt, and English pale malt to provide a rich, bready body. East Kent Goldings and Target hops provide a very modest backbone of peppery hops, but the flavor is unequivocally malt-driven. Scotch Ale yeast and a touch of raw sugar called sucanat add a distinctive complexity to this hefty 8.8% abv beer.

SONY DSCI should make the disclaimer now that I am really not a big fan of the Scotch Ale style of beer – I tend to find them heavy and syrupy and not really all that enjoyable. That being said, I really did review this beer with an open mind.

The beer pours ruby in color, lighter than I was expecting from a Scotch Ale. Lots of malt and slight notes of peat and smoke show on the nose – this beer is definitely not going to be confused with any other style. The beer is very malt forward, as you would expect, with a slight sweetness and a long finish with notes of smoked malt and grain. Not as overpowering as many Scotch ales and lighter on the malt than I was expecting, I just wish that there was more hop character present than I got – the hops were barely noticeable. There was balance though and the beer did not drink like the 8.8% ABV that it is. Overall, this beer was pretty darn tasty, especially for the style.

Stone Collaboration Highway 78 Scotch Ale drives down the road to the pizza shop and flashes us with a solid 3 kilts out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Stone Collaboration The Perfect Crime

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Next up in the Stone Collaboration Series is The Perfect Crime; a Black Smoked Saison brewed with the help of Evil Twin and Stillwater. The beer, as with all of the others I had in this series came from a 12oz. bottle and ran about $5.99. There are still a few bottles of this available at Chuck’s Hop Shop if you want to try it.

From the Stone website:

Evil Twin / Stillwater / Stone “The Perfect Crime” Black Smoked Saison. In a masterfully orchestrated collaboration of the minds, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø of Denmark’s Evil Twin Brewing, Brian Strumke from Baltimore’s Stillwater Artisanal Ales, and Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele crafted a beer that cleverly exploits the definition of a saison.

Stats: 6.8% abv, 60 IBUs
Hops bill: East Kent Goldings, Chinook, and Cluster

This beer is jet black in color with a cream colored head. The nose has hints of smoke with tree bark, grains and hints of hops. The beer starts out on the palate with small amounts of smoke yielding to a bit of tartness (the farmhouse funk) and citrus – the grains of paradise and hops are definitely noticeable and balance nicely with the smoke giving a sweet/sour/smoky combination. The finish is slightly sweet with hints of sugar and mild hop resin. The beer is slightly hoppy but not dominating in a surprisingly long finish.

They really pushed the definition of saison on this beer and they nailed it. It has enough of the farmhouse funk and grains of paradise notes that you know there is a saison there somewhere, but it is far and away the most hoppy saison I have ever tried, The smoke surprisingly marries well with the other flavors and the brewers did a fantastic job keeping all of the individual components distinctive enough that you can still taste them without being overpowered by each other. A regular saison drinker would probably hate what they did to this beer, but if you are looking for something interesting, you should pick one up.

The Perfect Crime from Stone/Evil Twin/Stillwater gets away with stealing 4 Scott frees out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Stone Collaboration TBA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Another Stone collaboration beer, this time with Bear Republic and Fat Head’s Brewing to produce a beer style known as a Texas Brown Ale. What is a Texas Brown Ale you might ask? Well I have never heard of the style, so I will let Stone’s press release talk about it:

This particular beer pays homage to a relatively little–known beer style called Texas Brown Ale, which, strangely enough, has its roots in California. It originated as a hopped up version of a brown ale recipe, and it got pretty popular with a group of NorCal homebrewers in the early 1980s.

“These California guys were tweaking an English-style brown,” explains Matt Cole, Head Brewer of Fat Head’s Brewery. “They added some Crystal and Chocolate malts, and supercharged it with a bunch of Cascade hops to get a bigger version with more hop forward aromas and flavors.”

While delicious, these beers failed to fare well in homebrew competitions, since there was no recognized category they could be entered in. They were far too hoppy and bitter to be considered a traditional brown ale. But when a competition in Houston, TX, accepted entries for what they named the “California Dark” category, the American Homebrewers Association followed suit soon after, though they perplexingly changed the name to Texas Brown Ale.

The beer was sampled out of a 12 oz. bottle and this review is for the 2012 version of the beer – Stone is getting together with the same breweries to brew this beer again in 2013. The skinny on the beer:

Stats: 7.1% abv, 81 IBUs
Malts: Pale 2–Row, Crystal 60, Toasted Wheat, Victory, and Chocolate Malt
Hops: Bravo, Brewer’s Gold, Cascade, and Columbus

tba_collab_2This beer is reddish amber in color with a tan head, not the brown you might expect from brown ale. The nose is a pleasant conglomeration of hops, malt, sugar and molasses. A smattering of light hops appear on the first sip, but fade quickly into a pleasant nut brown profile. The sugar and molasses are there but don’t dominate and subtly compliment the nut brown characteristics of the beer without overpowering it. The finish is like drinking a liquid pecan pie with hints of hops; which makes for a fun and very interesting beer. Considering the hop levels on this beer, I thought the use of them was restrained and very balanced, so much so that occasionally I found myself wanting a slightly bolder hop flavor profile.

I really like TBA and wish there were more breweries doing a style like this.

Stone Collaboration TBA saunters in with an excellent 4 Lone Stars out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Stone Collaboration La Citrueille Celeste de Citracado

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Another week, another Stone collaboration beer review. I should qualify this by saying that we did a horizontal tasting of all of the Stone collaboration beers I had at that point, so you should be seeing the rest of these in the coming weeks. The La Citrueille Celeste de Citracado (say that 3 times fast) is the collaboration pumpkin beer done between The Bruery, Stone and Elysian (should I have been surprised). This beer made its debut at the 2011 Elysian Pumpkin Beer Festival and made an encore appearance at the 2012 fest. I am reviewing this beer from the 12 oz. bottle that I purchased at around $3.

From the Stone Website:

The eclectic mix of ingredients was selected to introduce a decidedly different spin on traditional pumpkin beers. “The taste starts with citrus and herbal notes, but then a very smooth roasted malt character comes into play,” Steele explains. “The yam and pumpkin make their appearance on the finish, with some Eastern-influenced spiciness and trace maple notes from the toasted fenugreek, combining with hints of birch. This is no pumpkin pie beer. No cloves. No nutmeg. No cinnamon.”

Malt bill: Pale, Rye, Crystal, Chocolate Rye, English Brown, Aromatic, and Honey malt
Hops bill: Warrior, Motueka
Adjuncts: Pumpkins (grown at Stone Farms), yams, toasted fenugreek, lemon verbena
5% abv, 47 IBUs

This beer pours orange-amber in color. Lots of roasted pumpkin and birch dominate the nose of this beer with hints of lemon lccdc_bruery-labelverbena in the background. The beer drinks like a soda – syrupy birch and toasted pumpkin are the dominant flavors, fading very quickly. There are slight notes of toffee and hers on the finish, but they come and go so quickly that you almost don’t realize they are there. The beer was more complex when I had it on tap – in the bottle it lacks the dominant pumpkin and roast that I was expecting. I am wondering, despite proper storage, if this beer was past its prime when I opened it.

It they ever decided to brew this beer again, I recommend that you try La Citrueille, especially if you like Pumpkin beers that showcase the pumpkin rather than the spice.

I was originally going to give this beer a rating, but considering that the bottle may have been bad and how much I did like the previous times I drank the beer, I am going to not score this beer at all. I would recommend drinking this beer fresh if you have the chance.

Beer of the Week: Stone Collaboration Saison Du BUFF

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Collaboration beers can be fun and produce some interesting stuff. Stone has been running a collaboration series for a couple of years now working with brewers from around the world to produce some interesting beers. One of the first ones from this series that I tried was the Saison Du BUFF, collaboration between Stone, Victory out of Pennsylvania and Dogfish Head out of Delaware. This bottle was from the second brewing and was a 12 oz. container which ran about $4.

 

From the Stone website:

Appearance: This beer pours a beautiful pale gold with a white head of foam.
Aroma: Pronounced herbal characters, a wonderful blend of sage, lemon thyme, rosemary. It has some very pleasant citrusy notes, perhaps from the lemon thyme and the Citra dry-hop. And the Belgian yeast strain contributes low level banana esters and a hint of clove.
Taste: The taste starts with the herbal blend in the forefront, and then is backed by a clean malt balance and a very nice citrus and tropical fruit-influenced finish. The finish has a substantial, but balanced hop bitterness and hop flavor. It is a very dry beer, and has a nice refreshing quality that makes it wonderful for this time of year.
Overall: This is the second time that Greg, Sam, and Bill have brewed this beer here at Stone Brewing Co., and this time we were able to get all the herbs from Stone Farms! How cool is it to brew with ingredients from your own farm? Very, very cool.

Stats: 7.7% abv, 52 IBUs

Malts: Pale Malt, Pilsner Malt, Wheat Malt, Flaked Rye
Hops: Centennial & Citra

 

BUFF pours hazy yellow in color with a white head. Lots of lemon and herbs on the nose with hints of grain and yeast – basically this beer smells like a saison should.  The initial taste starts with notes of lemon followed by a medley of herbs and a hint of hops. The finish is dry and lacking direction – some of the time it is green and unbalanced and other times it is even with a distinct progression through the herbs. It is a beer that relies heavily on the olfactory senses as well as taste and it reminds me of a liquid herb garden. The alcohol is there but it is hardly noticeable, I just wish the flavors from the herbs were more consistent throughout the beer.

Saison Du BUFF was interesting but uneven and definitely not a beer that someone who was a casual beer drinker would remotely enjoy. I had higher expectations for this beer and was unfortunately let down.

Saison du BUFF lifts into your fridge with a somewhat disappointing 2 Thymus citriodorus out of 5.

Bottle Share At Chuck’s Hop Shop

By Iron Chef Leftovers

From Chuck's FB Page, what the evenining looked like. Also a rare photo of the elusive Iron Chef Leftovers in his natural habitat.
From Chuck’s FB Page, what the evenining looked like. Also a rare photo of the elusive Iron Chef Leftovers in his natural habitat.

Chuck’s Hop Shop in Greenwood recently hosted a bottle swap night. What is that you ask? Well, 24 people brought in at least 22 oz. of something rare/vintage/can’t get it in Seattle and shared it with a group of strangers. The group was split into 2 tables of 12 people each with the intention of that each table would get to taste 12 beers. Well, there was a lot of passing of bottles between tables and Chuck kept bringing out bottles from his personal stash, so, needless to say, I tasted way more than 12 beers that evening. It was an amazing opportunity to taste some stuff that I probably would not have gotten to try otherwise and there were some great conversations about the beers going on at our end of the table. It would have been nicer with a slightly smaller crowd, but based on some conversations I had with some new friends, I think we will try a CSE bottle share with fewer people at some point in the near future.
I took some brief notes on the beers, so here is an incomplete list of what I had:

Terrapin Moo-Hoo Chocolate Stout – Brought to the tasting by yours truly, so there will be a full review of this beer forthcoming.

Surly Abrasive Ale – A giant hop bomb, lots of citrus; exactly what I love in a hoppy beer.
Score : 4 out of 5 Brillo Pads

Dogfish Head Faithful – Disappointing; some currant flavor but it seemed flat. Had a weird lavender finish.
Score: 2 out of 5 Pearl Jams

Jester King RU55 – Not a fan favorite. Funky sour (but not in a good way) with hints of wood (like chewing on a 2×4, not aged in a barrel). I am wondering if the bottle was bad.
Score: 1 out of 5 Comedians

Breuery Melange– Loved this beer. Major oak with lots of vanilla and malt character. Reminded me of a fine sherry
Score: 5 out of 5 Mash-ups

Breuery Black Tuesday – More mellow oak than Melange (Melange is a component of this beer), but harsher. I think it needs to age to mellow out a bit before being fantastic.
Score: 3 out of 5 Mondays

Big Sky Ivan the Terrible – I had been looking forward to trying this one. Lots of malt, chocolate and coffee. Delicious.
Score: 4 out of 5 Czarist Swine

Troeges Nugget Nectar – lots of hops and citrus but it seemed overly fizzy, would love to retry it though.
Score: 3 out of 5 Hummingbirds

Goose Island Bourbon Country Cherry Rye Stout – very complex beer. Rye barrel and cherry dominate but there were lots of subtle character too. Would love to retry on a clean palate.
Score: 4 out of 5 Covered Bridges

Sam Adams Utopias Anniversary Edition – had Utopias once before, but this blend was even better. Not really a beer and more like a high end cognac or port.
Score: 5 out of 5 Sir Thomas More’s

Hill’s Farmstead – was looking forward to trying this one also, but it was like drinking an ashtray – smoky with no balance. Tasted like someone was burning down the Farmstead.
Score: 1 out of 5 Barns

Three Floyds Rye ‘da Tiger – gets a bonus point for the name, but was a delicious rye hop bomb. Would love to put it up against Laughing Dog, Reuben’s and Anacortes to see who would win in a blind tasting.
Score: 5 out of 5 Survivors

Cascade Bourbonic Plague – Lots of oak with a mild sour finish. Have to pick one of these up for the cellar.
Score: 4 out of 5 Bring Out Your Deads

Stone Double Bastard 2008 – the bottle was gone and tasted like wet cardboard. That is the danger of aging beer; you never know how it will turn out.
Score: 1 out of 5 Inglorious Basterds

Arcadia Big Dick’s Old Ale 2010 – Was too light for the end of the night, reminded me of an Imperial Pilsner.
Score: 3 out of 5 Too Easy, I Won’t Even Go There

I want to thank Chuck and his staff again for hosting such a wonderful evening and look forward to doing it again.

Bottle Share At Chuck's Hop Shop

By Iron Chef Leftovers

From Chuck's FB Page, what the evenining looked like. Also a rare photo of the elusive Iron Chef Leftovers in his natural habitat.
From Chuck’s FB Page, what the evenining looked like. Also a rare photo of the elusive Iron Chef Leftovers in his natural habitat.

Chuck’s Hop Shop in Greenwood recently hosted a bottle swap night. What is that you ask? Well, 24 people brought in at least 22 oz. of something rare/vintage/can’t get it in Seattle and shared it with a group of strangers. The group was split into 2 tables of 12 people each with the intention of that each table would get to taste 12 beers. Well, there was a lot of passing of bottles between tables and Chuck kept bringing out bottles from his personal stash, so, needless to say, I tasted way more than 12 beers that evening. It was an amazing opportunity to taste some stuff that I probably would not have gotten to try otherwise and there were some great conversations about the beers going on at our end of the table. It would have been nicer with a slightly smaller crowd, but based on some conversations I had with some new friends, I think we will try a CSE bottle share with fewer people at some point in the near future.
I took some brief notes on the beers, so here is an incomplete list of what I had:

Terrapin Moo-Hoo Chocolate Stout – Brought to the tasting by yours truly, so there will be a full review of this beer forthcoming.

Surly Abrasive Ale – A giant hop bomb, lots of citrus; exactly what I love in a hoppy beer.
Score : 4 out of 5 Brillo Pads

Dogfish Head Faithful – Disappointing; some currant flavor but it seemed flat. Had a weird lavender finish.
Score: 2 out of 5 Pearl Jams

Jester King RU55 – Not a fan favorite. Funky sour (but not in a good way) with hints of wood (like chewing on a 2×4, not aged in a barrel). I am wondering if the bottle was bad.
Score: 1 out of 5 Comedians

Breuery Melange– Loved this beer. Major oak with lots of vanilla and malt character. Reminded me of a fine sherry
Score: 5 out of 5 Mash-ups

Breuery Black Tuesday – More mellow oak than Melange (Melange is a component of this beer), but harsher. I think it needs to age to mellow out a bit before being fantastic.
Score: 3 out of 5 Mondays

Big Sky Ivan the Terrible – I had been looking forward to trying this one. Lots of malt, chocolate and coffee. Delicious.
Score: 4 out of 5 Czarist Swine

Troeges Nugget Nectar – lots of hops and citrus but it seemed overly fizzy, would love to retry it though.
Score: 3 out of 5 Hummingbirds

Goose Island Bourbon Country Cherry Rye Stout – very complex beer. Rye barrel and cherry dominate but there were lots of subtle character too. Would love to retry on a clean palate.
Score: 4 out of 5 Covered Bridges

Sam Adams Utopias Anniversary Edition – had Utopias once before, but this blend was even better. Not really a beer and more like a high end cognac or port.
Score: 5 out of 5 Sir Thomas More’s

Hill’s Farmstead – was looking forward to trying this one also, but it was like drinking an ashtray – smoky with no balance. Tasted like someone was burning down the Farmstead.
Score: 1 out of 5 Barns

Three Floyds Rye ‘da Tiger – gets a bonus point for the name, but was a delicious rye hop bomb. Would love to put it up against Laughing Dog, Reuben’s and Anacortes to see who would win in a blind tasting.
Score: 5 out of 5 Survivors

Cascade Bourbonic Plague – Lots of oak with a mild sour finish. Have to pick one of these up for the cellar.
Score: 4 out of 5 Bring Out Your Deads

Stone Double Bastard 2008 – the bottle was gone and tasted like wet cardboard. That is the danger of aging beer; you never know how it will turn out.
Score: 1 out of 5 Inglorious Basterds

Arcadia Big Dick’s Old Ale 2010 – Was too light for the end of the night, reminded me of an Imperial Pilsner.
Score: 3 out of 5 Too Easy, I Won’t Even Go There

I want to thank Chuck and his staff again for hosting such a wonderful evening and look forward to doing it again.

Beer of the Week: The Alchemist / Ninkasi / Stone More Brown Than Black IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

More Brown Than Black IPA is a collaboration beer between The Alchemist, Ninkasi and Stone Brewing and was brewed in November of 2011. It comes in at a hefty 7.4% ABV and 80 IBU and was brewed with a veritable kitchen sink of hops (Super Galena hop extract for bittering, Nelson Sauvin and Delta for flavor, dry-hopped with a blend of Citra and Galaxy) and malts (Maris Otter Pale, Light Munich, Carafa III Special Dark, and CaraHelles) The notes on the beer from the Stone website:

Tasting notes, provided by Brewmaster Mitch Steele

Appearance: Deep brown, a bit hazy, with tan foam.
Aroma: Whoa! This beer is all about, resiny, piney, dank and citrusy hops! The first shot is intense blend of pine and orange rind, and then as your sense of smell just starts to recover, the dankness and resiny herbaceousness come through with hints of grapefruit. This is a powerful hop blend!
Taste: The hops also dominate the flavor of this beer. Orange and grapefruit rind take center stage in the flavor, followed by, you guessed it: piney / resiny notes. The beer has a modest body…not sweet at all…and has a lingering bitter, drying end. Beyond the bitter end there are light hints of roasted malt and chocolate in the finish.
Overall: The hop character in this beer is unique and very pronounced. Galaxy is a newer hop variety from Australia that we think has strong tropical fruit and stone fruit characteristics. Citra and Delta are newer American hop varieties — Citra possesses strong citrus and dank flavors, while Delta has a milder profile with melon and berry notes. And of course Nelson Sauvin from New Zealand has its intense namesake’s white wine notes along with—surprise!—more dank notes. They all blended together well in this beer, a tribute to one of our favorite styles.

The beer was available in 12 oz. bottles for around $4 at the end of 2011. The beer that I consumed had been sitting in the cellar since then and I figured it would be a good idea to break it out to see how it held up.

The beer pours dark brown with a brown head. Hops and citrus permeate the nose on this beer – there is no doubt that this is an IPA. Slight hints of malt play hide and seek with your nose, but they are definitely there. Citrus and resin dominate the palate but they are balanced with the malt and grain. A slight malty sweetness quickly yields to green hops, resin and earthy citrus in a very long and not at all bitter finish. At no point in this beer does the alcohol dominate the flavor. As the beer warms, a slight smokiness shows on the nose and briefly on the palate. I had this beer fresh and it was a complete hop bomb and I think it is still enjoyable despite the recommendation to drink it fresh. The beer is slightly more restrained in its aged form and I think more approachable to the average beer drinker who is just beginning to cut their teeth on very hoppy IPA’s.

This beer was great when I originally had it and great when I had it a year later, which is unusual for an IPA. The character on this beer is amazing and I really wish they would brew it again.

More Brown than Black gets 4 Kumbyas out of 5.