Posts Tagged ‘Stone Brewing Company’

Greetings beer aficionados, Brandon here with another edition of the Saturday Night Sixer! As always this installment brings you a weekly offering that you can find in your local fine packaged liquor store, or possibly even on tap at your local watering hole. Looking for a new style or not sure what the craft brewing community has to offer this week? Look no further! Onward to beer …

Lupulin madness should be its real name.

Lupulin madness should be its real name.

The folks at Stone Brewing Company have been spoiling us for a long time now. With their standard lineup of beers like their Arrogant Bastard Ale, Ruination IPA, and their ever-changing selection of seasonal and special brews like their Old Guardian Barley Wine and the Vertical Epic series (if you haven’t picked up the 12.12.12 finale to the series, you may be too late, so get on it) Stone is always providing us with something new, tasty, and wonderful. Basically, Stone is always looking to put their bold stamp on a wide range of styles, and has succeeded in doing so for quite some time now.

It should be no surprise that Stone is taking their penchant for hoppy beers to the next level with the latest offering, the Enjoy By 02.15.13 IPA. As they have in the past, Stone has made a beer and made it specifically not to last. Now while that might not make a lot of sense initially, it will once you pour one of these and taste the freshness contained within. This is a beer that you WANT and NEED to drink fresh to fully appreciate the characteristics of the blend of hops contained in every bottle; many times certain hops will degrade in taste and aroma during aging, which is why Stone’s goal with this beer was to get it into your glasses as soon as possible. Hence, Stone goes to extra lengths to ensure that the Enjoy By series is bottled and distributed in a timely fashion, just so that we can enjoy the fresh onslaught of hoppy goodness in every drink. What a great bunch of folks!

After previous offerings of the Enjoy By IPA, Stone’s 02.15.13 is like a mosh pit of hops in your mouth. At first pour, I was greeted with an light orange/amber-colored double IPA with a frothy off-white head, with slight lacing as the head diminishes; it almost has the look of a strong pilsner.  Now here is where this beer shines, as the first whiff of the aromas was phenomenal; lots of floral, citrus and pine notes are present, with slight caramel malt hints as well. Now some IPAs strive to be a simple cacophony of hops, which can lead to a muddled beer; this is definitely not the case with the Enjoy By 02.15.13 IPA. The taste of this is wonderful, with tangy citrus and pine flavors hitting on the front. The floral hops that are sometimes lost with age in this style are still there, lending a good balance to the tangy flavors. A slight dry resin and subtle malt is present in the back and in the finish, with slight bitterness and grapefruit taste as well. There’s a slightly rough mouthfeel with little sweetness in there, making this a hophead’s best friend. For a DIPA this drinks remarkably easy and is incredibly refreshing on the palate, with very little alcohol bite. But make no mistake, the 9.2-percent ABV is still there, making this one dangerous to session. Believe me, you will want to have another of these once you taste the goodness within!

Did I mention there are hops in there??  Because there are.

Did I mention there are hops in there? Because there are.

This time of year usually provides brews that are heavy on the malts and spices, so to have Stone’s Enjoy By 02.15.13 IPA available is a wonderful addition to the the shelves of stores and taps of pubs around the country. It is currently on tap locally at Back Alley Draft House and the O’Niell’s in Nob Hill. Now, as the name implies, this beer is meant to be enjoyed by February 13, 2013 for optimal flavor, so the time to pick up one is now. Stone has done yeoman’s work in getting this onto shelves, so you should be able to hit your local liquor store and find bombers of it waiting for your enjoyment.

Hopheads rejoice, a big fragrant DIPA awaits your indulgence!

Until next time …

Prost!

—Brandon Daniel (Cryptogrind)

Greetings fellow craft brew fanatics, Brandon here with an early edition of the Saturday Night Sixer! Well, the end of the world is rapidly approaching (ha-ha), and if you’re not sure what brew would accompany the end of times, let this be your guide! As always, all of our beers in the Sixer can be found in your local packaged liquor stores … and if they don’t have ’em, ask the friendly folks how you can get your hands on them. Quick, before a meteor approaches and we have to send Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck into space to blow it up, grab a beer!

I was a good boy this year...Santa brought me a 12.12.12 Vertical Epic!

I was a good boy this year…Santa brought me a 12.12.12 Vertical Epic!

Oh, Stone Brewing Company, how many ways can we possibly love thee? Well, let us count the ways: there is the Smoked Porter, the hop-tastic Ruination IPA, an old standby in Arrogant Bastard Ale, Levitation Ale … we could go on. Oh, right, we can’t forget such seasonal favorites as Double Bastard, and the Old Guardian Barley Wine, and collaboration beers like the Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout they recently did with Iron Fist Brewing Company and homebrewer Ken Schmidt (which yours truly reviewed previously). There are plenty of others, but now we have a new reason, and this one comes in the form of Stone’s latest release, the 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale. Boy, I’m starting to sound like a fanboy …

If I do sound like one it is with good reason. Stone is simply consistent at making ridiculously good beers, specifically ones that are bold in their flavors; the last installment in the Vertical Epic series is no exception to this. Now for those not familiar with this series, here is a brief backstory: the Vertical Epics are a series of limited (and I mean VERY limited) release bottle-conditioned brews, each year having a unique style differing from the last and released one year, one month and one day from the previous year’s edition. According to Stone’s website, they are specifically made to be aged and enjoyed after 12/12/12, but of course you can pop the top on one whenever you feel like. For those of you who are like me, asking one to wait to try something so awesome is just an exercise in futility. Luckily the final beer in the series was recently released and I don’t have to wait to try one!

The 12.12.12 Vertical Epic is a wonderfully big and complex beer of the strong Belgian-style. It possesses a deep, dark brown color with a nice frothy head that mellows to a smooth swirl. The aromas are amazing — you get an initial heavy burst of cinnamon and other spices, and hints of banana as well. As it warmed a bit in my glass, the spices, roasted malts, and caramel hints became more pronounced. I found myself constantly taking in a whiff of the aromas after each sip. The taste is heavy on the spices, but they all play well with the chocolate and roasted malts that coat the palate with a smooth mouthfeel. There is a subtle but noticeable hint of citrus that hits in the middle and helps cut through the bitterness, mingling beautifully with the spices. It finishes dry but smooth with slight coffee hints and subtle alcohol warming, but not much bite. There is just enough spice and citrus there to cut through the bitterness, making this a very drinkable brew. After sipping on it for a bit, the natural warming in my glass brought out more hints of clove in the aromatics, a welcome addition to the party. For a large-bodied beer, this would still go well with a meal, or even by itself.

Too bad technology hasn't progressed to scratch & sniff images: the aromas here are amazing!

Too bad technology hasn’t progressed to scratch & sniff images: the aromas here are amazing!

Overall, the 12.12.12 Vertical Epic is an excellent finish to this series of beers, with a complex but enjoyable blend of spices and malts that is perfect for these cold winter days, or just an evening next to a fireplace with friends. This series of beers is EXTREMELY limited; they often sell out quickly due to the demand and limited supply, so make sure to get your hands on one while they last. If you happen to be one of the lucky few who has some of the older brews in the Vertical Epic series, we here at the NMDSBC would love to hear about the tastes found in some of the older brews, so send some comments our way here or on our Facebook page as well. Also, if anyone wants to give me a Christmas gift of a bottle of 02.02.02 that you have stored away … no? Well, it was worth a shot! Until next time …

Prost!

— Brandon Daniel (Cryptogrind)

Greetings hop heads and malt maniacs!  We’re back with another installment of the Saturday Night Sixer, brought to you on a Sunday this week (thanks, technical difficulties); this week we’ve got a few heavyweights to pop the tops on.  Not sure which six pack will please the palates of your friends?  Tired of the same stagnant beers from the corporate guys?  Want to put some new flavor in that glass?  Well, look no further than this week’s offerings, which you can find at fine package liquor stores in your area.  Can’t find what we’re writing about or have a new suggestion?  Feel free to e-mail us or leave us a comment; we’re always looking for new beers to try.  Onward to the beers…

First up this week we have the Ken Schmidt/Iron Fist/Stone Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout.  Now, I’m sure we don’t have to introduce Stone Brewing; however, if you are wondering who Ken Schmidt is, he is a homebrewer based out of San Diego.  Ken was given a golden ticket, so to speak, the opportunity to collaborate with Stone and Iron Fist Brewing Company on a beer after winning the 2012 March Madness Homebrew Competition.  That win gave birth to what I, and many others, have been eagerly waiting for; mint and chocolate go together like peanut butter & jelly.  Therefore, an innovative recipe combined with the experience of the folks at Stone and Iron Fist has given birth to this dark devil in a bottle.

Mint? Chocolate? Imperial stout? Yes please.

With a jet black hue you would expect from this style, this brew has a strong, thick head that sticks around for a bit, but swirls well.  The roasted malt and mint aromas hit you with your first whiff and continue with each drink.  The roasted malts and cocoa are all over your palate with this one, with the mint finishing on the back of the palate, and giving you what one would expect with a beer with these ingredients.  The mint actually blends well with the hops here, giving the beer an extra punch.  Still, though, the chocolate and malts are the stars here.  The mint actually comes through a bit more when this brew is a bit warmer, so you might try drinking this one longer after it’s been out of the refrigerator than normal, around 50 degrees or so.  This is a velvety, smooth, dark mistress, very thick but it goes down smooth with just enough mint on the back of the palate to balance the rich chocolate and roasted flavors.  Overall this is a very enjoyable beer, especially for this time of year or as an after-dinner beer.  This is an extremely limited offering that will not last long, so head out soon and pick this up. This will be a perfect gift for the holiday season for any beer aficionado!

Now, for those with adventurous taste buds, you need look no further than Kickin’ Chicken Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine from Santa Fe Brewing Company.  If you are familiar with Santa Fe Brewing’s Chicken Killer Barley Wine, then you are in for a treat, as well as a kick in the face, with this limited-release beast.  They have taken the Chicken Killer and brewed it with twice the ingredients of any of their other beers, but only get about half the yield, therefore producing a concentrated brew.  After brewing, they took the batch and aged it for nine months in Wild Turkey 101 (cripes!) bourbon barrels, giving way to a mingling of extra flavors to enhance the experience.  The result is this batch of liquid gold that is equal flavors barley wine and bourbon!

Claims to kick you in the face like a chicken would. I can vouch for that.

As intimidating as Kickin’ Chicken may sound, it is remarkably welcoming.  With a hazy, dark amber/caramel-color and strong toffee and sugary, vanilla aromas, you would almost not expect the bourbon flavor.  With the first sip, however, you get the full flavor; the toffee and caramel malts are there, along with slight citrus hints from the hops.  But the aging in the bourbon barrels really shows through, as there is an even whiskey taste throughout.  The notes of vanilla and oak actually blend well and produce a slightly smokey flavor on the back of the palate.  This definitely has a kick (the name may have given you this impression already, but it is definitely not overwhelming, and is surprisingly pleasant and smooth).  Don’t let the smooth nature of Kickin’ Chicken deceive you, though, as it still clocks in at 12-percent ABV, so make sure you’re someplace comfy for the night before unleashing one of these bad boys.  Kickin’ Chicken is in pretty limited release and probably won’t last long, so grab a few of these and maybe store one away to age for a special occasion, as I have!

Both of these beers can be found at Jubilation Wine & Spirits and most Whole Foods Markets in and around Albuquerque, but any of your fine neighborhood packaged liquor stores should be able to point you in the direction of either of these fine brews.  So, happy drinking and until next time …

Prost!

— Brandon (Cryptogrind)