Stone

STONE BREWING COMPANY

In 1996, Greg Koch and Steve Wagner founded Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, CA. This brewery is known for their powerful and strong IPA’s and robust porters. Their logo is a gargoyle and they are very passionate about the brews they create. With names like Sublimely Self-Righteous, Arrogant Bastard Ale, and Ruination IPA, these guys are not modest and want you to know that their beer is the best and greatest. Well, I would like to argue that statement but damn do their beers live up to the hype.

www.stonebrew.com

Below is the list of reviewed beers in order:

Bastard Releases:

Year-Round/Seasonals:

Specialty/Limited Release:

ARROGANT BASTARD ALE: 100 Points

This arrogance I do enjoy

This American Strong Ale has a classified hop variety and is available year-round in 22 oz. bottles, 3-liter bottles, and on draft.

Brewer’s Description: “This is an aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth.”

My Description: This beer is remarkable. Every facet of this beer is damn-near perfect and made with the highest of quality. The head is beige in color; it is bountiful and fluffy with great retention, the head lasts the whole way. It also produces amazing laces that glue on thick to the glass. The aroma is so satisfying and it just invites you to take a sip; it has a big citrus hop aroma with hints of woodsy hops as well as some malt presence. The hops smell fresh and clean. Overall the beer is full bodied with a good carbonation level for this style. When you first start drinking, the front of your mouth will taste a malt presence that is accompanied by the flavors of citrus hops. It leads into an aftertaste that is moderately high in bitterness that lingers forever. The flavors are smooth and transition nicely. There is little to no alcohol notes and the beer overall tastes delicious from start to finish. This is a high quality beer and I can’t really think of anything they could have done more. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with buffalo wings, burgers, or BBQ.

ABV: 7.2%  Color: Hazy Brown/Amber  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 7.5/10

ARROGANT BASTARD ALE (OAKED): 98 Points

Ahhh, the mighty oak

This American Strong Ale has a classified hop variety and is available in 12 oz. bottles and on draft. Enjoy.

Brewer’s Description: “We bring you the “OAKED Arrogant Bastard Ale.” Another reward for those seeking new sources of passion, and another point of dissension for those who are not.”

My Description: The flavors and overall experience of this beer is more than just Arrogant Bastard aged in oak; the flavors are more complex, the texture is different, and the hops taste like they are more on the woodsy/pine side. However, it is just as enjoyable as its brother. It has a decent tan colored head with a good retention and good lacing. The aroma  is vibrant and complex with notes of caramel malt, woodsy hops, molasses, and a hint of raisins. It is medium/full bodied, slightly lower in carbonation, and ridiculously smooth. I mean it, this beer will go down like water. This beer has a great balance between the malty sweetness and hop bitterness. Flavors include caramel malt, pine hops, some vanilla, and a touch of oak. The finish is dry and lip smacking. Overall this beer robust and best served around 50°F, pairing nicely with steak, lamb chops, or buffalo wings.

ABV: 7.2%  Color: Mahogany  Sweetness: 4/10  Bitterness: 5/10

 BOURBON BARREL-AGED ARROGANT BASTARD: 95 Points

Let it age

Let it age

This barrel aged American Strong Ale is a limited release in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: N/A

My Description: You have to pour this in a glass and let it breath for at least 10 minutes before you will begin to appreciate this offering from Stone. It pours a decent sized, beige colored head that fades to a thin film leaving behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma is the best part of the beer, it smells amazing with complex notes. One can detect notes of bourbon, caramel malt, citrus hops, cherries, wood, with a slight hint of sweetness. This bourbon barreled beer is full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. Initially the beer tasted off and unbalanced but that went away as this beer warmed up and breathed, then it became really enjoyable. The caramel malt notes started to blend cleanly with hints of dark fruit and citrus hops. This transitioned nicely into the aftertaste that is moderately bitter. Overall, the flavor profile has a woodsy presence with a noticeable sweetness that is nicely combated by the finish. Plus the alcohol is nicely hidden. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with grilled steak, soft cheeses, or a mild cigar.

ABV: 7.9%  Color: Reddish/Brown  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 5.5/10

DOUBLE BASTARD ALE: 99 Points

Perfectly Strong

Perfectly Strong

This Double American Strong Ale is released in occasionally in limited quantities in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Double Bastard Ale calls out the garrulous caitiffs who perpetrate the aforementioned atrocities and demands retribution for their outrageously conniving, intentionally misleading, blatantly masturbatory and fallacious ad campaigns. We demand the unmitigated, transparent truth.”

My Description: It is difficult to develop a beer with this high of alcohol content and still deliver and smooth, satisfying and delicious experience. It has a beautiful and dense beige colored head that lasts the whole way and leaves behind a good amount of lacing. The aroma is dominated by grapefruit hops accompanied by notes of pine hops and a caramel malt. It is full bodied with a lower carbonation level and a dry finish. This beer feels strong, it tastes strong, and it delivers strong flavors. Upfront there is a sweet caramel malt note that is quickly taken over by pungent grapefruit hops. There is also this hint of dark fruit throughout that adds some complexity. The aftertaste is moderately bitter with notes of pine hops that linger. The alcohol taste is apparent but acts as a compliment to the overall flavor profile. This beer is very smooth and delicious. It is worth the time to sit and sip, it is made with the highest craftsmanship. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with burgers, beef brisket, or your favorite cigar.

ABV: 11.2%  Color: Amber/Bronze  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 6/10

LUKCY BASARTD ALE: 98 Points

We are Lucky

This American Strong Ale has a classified hop variety and is released in limited quantities in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “The mree fcat taht yuo’re hdoinlg tihs bttloe in yuor hnad ianidctes taht yuo’re pyiang antteiton, wihch ideitammley stes you arpat form the msseas. It aslo mkaes you one Lukcy Basartd. Hewover, lcuk faovrs the blod… and the arorgnat. The trmiraivute of Arorgnat Basartd Ale, OEKAD Arorgnat Basartd Ale and Dbolue Basartd Ale are all in paly in this cvueé de Basartd you now hlod, and wihle it is idneed a Lukcy Basartd, lcuk had ntohing to do wtih it.”

My Description: Once you get passed the mumbo jumbo description and finally take a sip you’ll realize that this beer is of the highest quality and ridiculously delicious, assuming you enjoy this style of beer. It has a big and dense, light beige colored head with a good retention level and the lacing just glues on. The aroma was love at first smell with notes of caramel malt, piney hops, and grapefruit hops. It smells fresh and inviting. It is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavors are beautifully balanced with caramel malt upfront with a strong presence of grapefruit hops and a hint of oakiness. This transitions cleanly into an aftertaste that is moderately high in bitterness with notes of pine and earthy hops. The alcohol is completely hidden and this beer is super smooth. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with buffalo wings, cheeseburgers, or a maduro cigar.

ABV: 8.5%  Color: Deep Amber  Sweetness: 3.5/10  Bitterness: 7/10

STONE AMERICANO STOUT: 97 Points

Exquisite

Exquisite

This Imperial Stout is released seasonally in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “The coffee notes in Stone Americano Stout are bold, rich and full of American swagger. For each 120-barrel batch, we incorporated over 250 lbs. of artisanal espresso-roast beans into the mash and added in Columbus, Chinook, Amarillo and Cascade hops to invigorate the coffee taste with a slight citrus and resin hop presence. When it came time to selecting our coffee, we chose the same local roasters who contributed to our sought-after 2013 Stone ESPRESSO Imperial Russian Stout. Their fantastic beans helped us achieve this dark, hoppy and wonderfully aromatic espresso stout.”

My Description: This Imperial Stout is absolutely delicious. It begins with a large, dark beige colored head with a great retention level leaving behind some spotty lacing. The aroma is inviting and rich with bold roasted coffee notes along with some pine hops and a touch of dark malt. Americano Stout is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is complex with a great depth. Deep espresso notes can be detected immediately along with notes of toffee, dark chocolate, citrus hops, and a touch of sweetness. Hints of smoke creep in from time to time adding character. The alcohol is beautifully hidden making this beer extremely smooth and highly drinkable. The aftertaste is moderately bitter with lingering coffee notes. Overall, this is beauty of a beer that is flawlessly executed and needs to be sought out. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with Thai curry noodles, smoked cheddar, or grilled venison.

ABV: 8.7%  Color: Black  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 4.5/10

STONE CALI-BELGIË (BELGIQUE): 95 Points

Hops + Yeast + Stone = Heaven

This Belgian Style IPA has 77 IBU’s and is available year-round in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “We carefully selected a Belgian yeast strain that illuminates a fascinating new aspect of the beer that is otherwise quite simply Stone IPA.”

My Description: Cali-België is not a beer to drink if you are in the mood for a traditional IPA or a Belgian Ale, but if you’re feeling like you need something new, this will definitely suffice. It has a nicely sized, off-white head with a good retention level and it leaves some good lacing. The aroma is bright and pleasant with fragrant notes of citrus hops, bubblegum, cloves, Belgian yeast, and a touch of green apple. It is roughly medium bodied with an average carbonation level and a slightly dry finish. The beer tastes fresh with flavor notes of Belgian yeast, citrus hops, malt, and light fruit. The aftertaste is moderately bitter and smooth. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled shrimp, duck l’orange, or crab wontons.

ABV: 6.9% Color: Clear Orange Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 6/10

STONE DELICIOUS IPA: 93 Points

Tasty but not delicious

Tasty but not delicious

This IPA has an IBU of 80 and is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Great beer is for everyone and anyone with the good taste to recognize it, not just a niche group like us über beer geeks. So, when we developed this pleasantly bitter, deliciously citrusy, hop-driven IPA, we took it as an opportunity to go a step further and do something we’d spent over a year researching and perfecting: creating a beer that makes it possible for nearly everyone to experience our aggressive, no-holds-barred approach to craft brewing. It’s a flavorful, cutting-edge, modern-day IPA for everyone. Lemondrop and El Dorado hops provide plenty of fruity citrus character and a burst of hop zing that sings on the palate. We’re proud to present it to those who already know us for our IPA prowess and to those who, so far, have only heard the legends.”

My Description: The label says it is crafted to reduce gluten and I’m not a gluten expert so I reviewed this beer compared to Stone’s other IPA’s and IPA’s in general. It begins with a good sized, white colored head with an awesome retention level that holds the whole way leaving behind a good amount of lacing. The aroma is bright and inviting with notes of citrus hops, pale malts, lemon candy, and hint of spice. Delicious IPA is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is unique in that these citrus hops provide a more lemon flavor than the usual grapefruit or tangerine flavor, which is fun change and great for Summer. Some herbal notes can also be detected along with hop spice undertones and some malt sweetness. The alcohol is beautifully hidden behind the 80 IBU’s. The aftertaste has a moderate to high bitterness with a lingering lemon note that lasts a long time. Overall, this beer is refreshing and tasty but doesn’t quite hit that level of greatness that their other IPA’s do. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with hummus, spicy chicken wings, or veggie jambalaya.

ABV: 7.7% Color: Light Gold/Orange Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 5.5/10

STONE GO TO IPA: 94 Points

Easy Go To Choice

Easy Go To Choice

This Session IPA has an IBU of 65 and is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “This beer employed the “hop bursting” technique, which in essence is a hopping method where all or most of the bitterness in the beer comes from late hop additions in the brewhouse, like at the end of boil and in the whirlpool, instead of the more traditional approach where most of the hop bitterness comes from earlier additions at the start of the kettle boil. The result is a beautifully aromatic beer with substantial, but somewhat mellow, bitterness. The hop bursting also enhances the flavor retention of the hops, and combined with the dry hop, creates a very intense and complex hop flavor.”

My Description: This is a very clear beer, it almost looks like a Pilsner when poured. It has a good sized, white colored head with a sub-par retention and it leaves behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma is amazingly aromatic. It smells so fresh and juicy that it’s almost unrivaled. Big grapefruit and stone fruit hop notes and a touch of malt immediately invite you to drink. Go To is lighter bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. This ale has everything you want in a session beer; it is crisp, easy drinking, refreshing, and tasty. Strong grapefruit notes dominate with pine hops and light fruit note additions. A touch of malt adds some body but otherwise this beer is all hops. The aftertaste is moderately bitter and will linger. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with fried chicken salads, Thai noodles, or Cajun shrimp.

ABV: 4.5%  Color: Light Gold/Orange  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 5/10

STONE IPA: 98 Points

Delicious IPA

This is their flagship ale that was released in 1997 and is available year-round. This IPA uses Columbus, Chinook & Centennial hops to create a beer with 77 IBU’s. This beer is available in 12 oz. six packs, 22 oz. bottles, and on draft.

Brewer’s Description: “An “India Pale Ale” by definition is highly hopped and high in alcohol – you’ll find our Stone India Pale Ale to be true to style with a huge hop aroma, flavor and bitterness throughout. If you’re a hop-head like us, then you’ll love our Stone India Pale Ale! Medium malt character with a heavy dose of over the top hops! Generous “dry hopping” gives this beer its abundant hop aroma and crisp hop flavor.”

My Description: Yet, another Stone ale with a great rating. I don’t like to throw out high ratings left and right but I have to be true to myself; this is another damn good beer of immense quality. As soon as I took my first sip a smile went across my face, this beer leaves you wanting more. It has a thick foamy head with great retentive qualities and the lacing is right where you hoped it would be. Stone says this has a huge hop aroma and I can’t argue with that. The hops overwhelm your senses but at the same time the aroma is pleasant and satisfying. As soon as this hits your lips you immediately taste the hops and it is delicious. The beer was created with such quality that the bitterness is accompanied by a smooth and enjoyable body that makes you crave more. The aftertaste is bitter and delightful. If you like medium to heavy bodied beer with a lot of hops you will love this beer. But even if you don’t, you still might enjoy this ale because it is created with such quality and passion. You can pick this up in Maryland for around $7-$9.

ABV: 6.9% Color: Light Copper Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 8/10

STONE LEVITATION ALE: 91 Points

Lighter ABV

This Amber Ale has an IBU of 45 and was first released in 2002. It is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “This deep amber ale has rich malt flavors, a big hoppy character, citrus overtones (courtesy of the hops and our special brewers yeast) and modest alcohol.”

My Description: This beer produces a big flavor while still keeping the alcohol content low. That is the concept of this beer. But since the ABV is low, the body of this beer feels more thin and airy which is not a negative, it is just a characteristic which you should be aware of. It has a decent head that does not retain very well and produces very minimal lacing. The aroma is fresh with a big citrus hop presence that smells earthy and grassy. There is also a fragrant note of caramel malt as well to add more enjoyment to the aroma. Once you put the beer in your mouth you will taste an explosion of grapefruit hops that are delicious and are accompanied by a slight taste of sweet malt. The aftertaste is moderately bitter and slightly dry. Overall the beer is great if you are in the mood for a lighter beer with strong flavors. It is best served around 42°F and pairs nicely with buffalo wings, pizza, or fried chicken.

ABV: 4.4% Color: Amber Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 5.5/10

STONE PALE ALE: 90 Points

Great Balance

Great Balance

This American Pale Ale has an IBU of 41 and is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Stone Pale Ale is our Southern California take on the classic British ale. Deep amber in color, this beer is a robust and full-flavored interpretation of the traditional style. Its bold malt character is perfectly complemented by a judicious amount of hops, lending it a subtly enticing aroma. This is an ale for those who have learned to appreciate distinctive flavors and have a thirst for something out of the ordinary.”

My Description: Definitely more malt forward than one would expect from Stone, so initially this came as a surprise but none-the-less it is still a great choice for a pale ale. It begins with a good sized, off-white colored head that dissipates slowly and leaves behind a good amount of lacing. The aroma is bready and slightly sweet with caramel malt scents coming through. Slight hints of woodsy hops are also present making the aroma enjoyable and inviting. Stone Pale Ale is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. A more balanced pale ale, upfront malty notes dominate which transition smoothly into an aftertaste that is slightly bitter. Caramel malts and bread notes add to the flavor profile along with notes of woodsy/herbal hops. A touch of grapefruit notes can also be detected. A clean beer, this is easy go to pale ale. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with just about everything.

ABV: 5.4%  Color: Copper/Amber  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 3.5/10

STONE PATASKALA RED X IPA: 99 Points

Highly Addicting

Highly Addicting

This Red IPA is released seasonally in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Pat-ASK-ala? Pata-SKALA? Pa-TASK-a-la? While those in the know favor the third pronunciation, no matter how you say it, this is a unique red IPA. The beer was first brewed in September 2015 to support music and arts education programs in Pataskala, Ohio, where Stone co-founder Greg Koch grew up. People there loved it, so we added the beer to our seasonal lineup. The deep crimson hue is courtesy of a fairly new special German malt variety by BESTMALZ called Red X. Dry-hopped with Mosaic, Cascade and Amarillo hops, this beer is incredibly citrus-forward, rounded out with biscuit and toffee notes. We think you’ll find this red IPA to be quite deliciously satisfying, no matter how you choose to pronounce it.”

My Description: Stone has created a wonderfully blended Red IPA with the perfect body and just the right amount of bitterness. It begins with a good sized, beige colored head with an excellent retention level that leaves behind some spotty lacing. The aroma is inviting with amazing citrus hop notes that just smell fresher and deeper than other beers. There are also notes of tropical hops like pineapples, the aroma is definitely hop forward. Pataskala is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is extremely clean allowing each individual hop to shine through presenting notes of woodsy hops, tropical hops, and citrus hops that taste bold and juicy. Biscuit malt and a touch of sweetness give this beer depth and the alcohol is completely hidden. The aftertaste is moderately bitter and lingers for a bit. This is one of the best Red IPA’s on the market. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with BBQ ribs, soft cheeses, or a margherita pizza.

ABV: 7.3%  Color: Deep Amber  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 5.5/10

STONE RUINATION IPA: 91 Points

Extra Bitter

This IPA uses Centennial and Columbus hops to produce an IBU of 100+. It is available year-round in 12 oz. six packs and 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “So called because of the “ruinous” effect on your palate! This massive hop monster has a wonderfully delicious and intensely bitter flavor on a refreshing malt base.”

My Description: If you are not a bitter beer fan then you need to avoid this beer. However, if you can appreciate an overly bitter beer that is smooth, delicious, and well made then I suggest you give this IPA a try. It has a thick and foamy off-white head that produces really nice lacing and the head holds on the whole way through. The aroma is what I expected, a powerful hop scent with minor notes of citrus. It smells really good and welcoming. This beer has a strong hop taste that is smooth and refreshing. You can pick up on some citrus flavor as well but it is all hops. The aftertaste leaves a lingering hop presence on your tongue for a few seconds. I could barely pick up on any alcohol notes. This beer is best enjoyed around 40° – 45°F. I loved it.

ABV: 7.7% Color: Cloudy Gold Sweetness: 1.5/10 Bitterness: 9/10

STONE RUINATION 2.0: 99 Points

An excellent sequel

An excellent sequel

This Imperial IPA is available year-round in 12 oz. and 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Stone Ruination IPA was the first full-time brewed and bottled West Coast double IPA on the planet. As craft beer has evolved over the years, so too have techniques for maximizing hop flavors and aromas. For the second incarnation of our groundbreaking India pale ale, we employed dry hopping and hop bursting to squeeze every last drop of piney, citrusy, tropical essence from the hops that give this beer its incredible character. We’ve also updated the name to reflect the imperial-level intensity that’s evident in every sip. Join us in cheering this, the second stanza in our “Liquid Poem to the Glory of the Hop.”

My Description: My initial reaction after taking my first sip was “wow.” This beer is excellently crafted from the mouthfeel, to the flavor profile, and the amazing aftertaste. It pours a large, off-white colored head that is dense and lasts forever leaving behind a wall of lacing. The aroma is a complex hop bomb with Citra hops standing out delivering notes of tropical fruits like mangoes and pineapple along with traditional Ruination notes of pine hops and citrus hops. The beer smells delightful. Ruination 2.0 is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile sends this beer back to top of the Double IPA podium. A clean malt backbone holds up notes of pine hops, grapefruit hops, with hints of tropical hops. This beer is bright, robust, and yet very smooth with hardly any alcohol notes. The aftertaste is highly bitter with lingering Citra hop notes. The bitterness is clean and lasts forever after you finish the beer. This beauty is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with fish tacos, coconut shrimp, or spicy Thai noodles.

ABV: 8.5%  Color: Golden/Orange  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 7.5/10

STONE SAISON: 92 Points

Definitely Stone

Definitely Stone

This Farmhouse Ale is available seasonally in the Spring months in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “In spring 2011, Stone bought the farm, literally, taking over 19 acres of fertile Southern California soil where we now grow pristine fruits, vegetables, herbs and more for our Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens restaurants. A taste of our homespun farm-to-tableism is provided in this farmhouse ale stoked with lemon zest, plus lemon thyme and lavender straight from Stone Farms. This spring-to-summer saison is citric and herbal on the palate with a dry, peppery finish. Thanks to the infusion of fresh West Coast ingredients, this isn’t your everyday saison. It’s our saison—100% Stone. Celebrate the sunny season with an authentic taste of our farm and, with it, our commitment to quality.”

My Description: This Farmhouse Ale has Stone written all over it with their signature hops and bitterness taking center stage, in a good way of course. It pours a good sized, white colored head with a good retention level and it leaves behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma is welcoming with notes of pale malts, lemon zest, some earthiness, and hints of floral and funk. In fact, the funkiness that is normally associated with a Farmhouse Ale is kept at a minimal in Stone’s version. Stone Saison is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. Smooth, tasty, and not overly complex, the flavor profile gives this beer a sessionable characteristic. Upfront, there are notes of pale malts and lemon along with floral and citrus hop notes. There is also another floral flavor that is most likely the lavender that this beer is brewed with, a very nice touch. The beer finishes moderately bitter with a pepper spice flavor that linger slightly. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with a Caesar salad, deviled eggs, or roasted chicken.

ABV: 6%  Color:  Gold/Straw  Sweetness: 1.5/10  Bitterness: 4/10

STONE SMOKED PORTER: 96 Points

Subtle Smoke

This Porter uses Columbus and Mt. Hood hops to create a beer with 53 IBU’s. It is available year-round in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “This is no ordinary porter. And if you are already among the enlightened who appreciate a fine ebony-hued ale, we think you will find Stone Smoked Porter to be a poignant addition to your repertoire. This beer pours a gorgeous deep mahogany crowned by a creamy head. Dark, smooth and complex, with rich chocolate and coffee flavors balanced by a subtle smokiness, this brew is equally delicious with meats or fine chocolates.”

My Description: This is a delicious porter with just the right amount of smokiness to add character without being the center of attention. The head has a nice beige color and it is big and fluffy with good retention and good lacing. The aroma is very pleasing with notes of roasted malt, chocolate, and some minor coffee and vanilla. If you smell closely you will also pick up on the smoked malt fragrance as well. This beer is medium/full bodied with just the right amount of carbonation. Once you start drinking it you will taste the roasted malt and chocolate notes in the beginning followed by some coffee notes in the middle with just a hint of licorice. The aftertaste is moderately bitter and smooth with a smokiness flavor that is really good. You have to pick this up if you are a porter fan and a smoked meats fan for sure. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with BBQ chicken, dark chocolate, or ribs.

ABV: 5.9% Color: Dark Brown/Black Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 5.5/10

STONE SMOKED PORTER W/VANILLA BEAN: 94 Points

Actual Vanilla Beans

Actual Vanilla Beans

This Porter is released seasonally in the Winter months in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “In 2006, almost exactly 10 years after we first released Stone Smoked Porter, Stone Small Batch Brewer Laura Ulrich had a brilliant idea: What if she added whole Madagascar vanilla beans to a small batch of the finished beer? And voilá, Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean was born! It was an instant hit, as the resulting flavor combinations – rich vanilla melding with the malty, chocolatey, coffee-like characteristics of the beer-were practically made for each other.”

My Description: This beer is great on its own. The addition of vanilla just adds that little something when looking for a change. It begins with a large and dense, beige colored head with a nice retention level and it leaves behind a great amount of lacing. The aroma is welcoming with a lightly roasted coffee note accompanied by smoked malt, vanilla, and a touch of nuttiness. Smoked Porter is medium bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a dry finish. This beer tastes similar to the original with just an added vanilla note and the sweetness is slightly higher. A subdued but apparent smoky flavor lingers throughout along with notes of coffee and chocolate. An earthy presence rounds out the flavor profile and the slightly bitter finish makes this an easy drinking ale. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with beef jerky, smoked ribs, or coffee based desserts.

ABV: 5.9%  Color: Dark Brown  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 3.5/10

STONE SUBLIMELY SELF-RIGHTEOUS ALE:  97 Points

Black IPA

This beer was created for their 11th anniversary but was so in demand they decided to make it a year-round production. This is a Black IPA.  They use Chinook, Simcoe, and Amarillo hops which make up the 90 IBU’s. This beer is available on draft and in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Its bitterness hits our sweet spot. Its blackness lightens our hearts. Its liquid dichotomy pulls it all together in this sublimely sacrosanct ale. Yes, we damn well know our stuff here at Stone, and it would be irresponsible of us not to acknowledge how remarkable this heavenly creation of ours is. Thus the name we are compelled to give it — Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale — serves as a reminder of just how good we are, in both liquid and verbal form.”

My Description: You have to understand why I gave this beer 97 points, which is damn near perfect. I grade beer according to the style, genre, and overall quality. This beer is of the highest quality and you can tell the brewer was passionate about his job by giving the world a near-perfect black IPA.  There is a really nice foamy and dense head that lingers with a beautiful beige color. The lacing on this beer looks like it was glued onto the glass, really nice stuff. Once you bring the glass to your nose you will instantly be aware of the strong hop aroma that is accompanied by mild roasted notes.  The alcohol content is high in this beer but you would not know it because the hops completely crush any sign of alcohol in this beer which adds to the high quality of this brew.  If held in your mouth for a few seconds you will pick up on some roasted notes but once you swallow it is pure bitterness that lingers.  I cannot explain in words how strong the hop aftertaste is, you just have to open a bottle yourself to understand. It is medium bodied and very smooth. Best enjoyed around 40°-45°F.  The more this beer warms up the more you will pick up on roasted coffee notes.  This is a damn good Black IPA, but you must understand and enjoy IPA’s first.

ABV: 8.7%  Color: Black  Sweetness:  2/10  Bitterness:  8.5/10

16TH ANNIVERSARY IPA: 91 Points

Very Strong, Very Bitter

This Imperial IPA has an IBU of 85 and is released in limited quantities in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “The amount of rye malt we used isn’t quite enough to warrant the appellation “Rye IPA,” but it still adds hints of spiciness that contrast deliciously with the tropical fruit flavors and aromas of the Amarillo and Calypso hops. Add a few European specialty malts, some lemon verbena, and three more hop varieties to the mix, and you have a highly complex brew melding both bitter and fruity hop notes with rich toasted malt character punctuated by nuances of spicy rye and subtle lemon.”

My Description: If you don’t know Stone and if you don’t like Imperial IPA’s then you need to put this back on the shelf because it is very high in bitterness and an extremely strong beer. I know Stone, I like Imperial IPA’s, and I loved this. For being a 10% beer, it has a great, tan colored head that retains decently and produces some good lacing. The aroma smells amazing with huge notes of citrus and grapefruit hops accompanied by a pleasant addition of lemon and a touch of alcohol. It is full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is dominated by citrus and grapefruit hops that are accompanied by a touch of rye spice and an earthiness that is welcomed. There is also a lemon flavor note that goes in and out, which is a nice addition to help change things up. The aftertaste is highly bitter and lingers forever. As the beer warms up it gets more bitter and the alcohol becomes more noticeable. It is best served around 45°-50°F and pairs nicely with blue cheese burgers, BBQ chicken sandwiches, or a deep-dish pizza.

ABV: 10% Color: Orange/Brown Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 9/10

17TH ANN. GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG IPA: 98 Points

End of Times IPA

End of Preconceived IPA’s

This Imperial IPA has an IBU of 102 and is released as a one-time anniversary ale in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Inspired by new experimental German hops, our brewing team is celebrating our 17th Jahrestag by taking palates on an unconventional tour of Deutschland by way of Southern California. In doing so, we used a grain bill comprised exclusively of pilsner malts and German hops with crazy awesome names: Herkules, Hersbrucker, Magnum, Merkur, Opal, Smaragd & Strisselspalt. Dry-hopping with Sterling, a U.S. hop with Saaz parentage, lends a bit of familiarity, but be forewarned, this is a unique beer that takes the IPA–a style we’ve already pushed far beyond it’s previous limits over the years–to interesting new territory.”

My Description: This German inspired Imperial IPA is smooth, bold, and adventurous. The addition of so many different hop varieties and all of them from Germany would suggest a similar flavor profile, but almost all of the flavors from the hop spectrum shine through. It begins with a large, off-white colored head that lasts for a long time and leaves behind a great amount of lacing that glues on to the glass. The aroma is nothing short of a hop bomb; there are notes of pine hops, herbal hops, floral hops, and a touch of citrus hops. The aroma is very impressive and a great indicator to the multiple hop flavors in this brew. This beer is full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. 17th. Ann. is very strong and while the alcohol flavor is nicely hidden it is definitely felt. There are a complex array of hop flavors including pine/spicy hops, herbal hops, floral hops, and citrus hops. I also picked up on tropical notes and honey in this beer. The aftertaste is very bitter and will linger nicely for some time. This beer is magnificent because you can pick up on so many different hop flavors in each sip and they taste great. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with Thai noodles, smoked beef stew, or rotisserie chicken.

ABV: 9.5%  Color: Golden/Orange  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 7.5/10

18th ANNIVERARY IPA: 88 Points

Nice looking Bottle

Nice looking Bottle

This American Strong ale is released only once as an anniversary ale in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “The hoppiest golden-brown IPA on earth. As we compose the text for this celebratory beer—a golden-brown India pale ale dry-hopped exclusively and abundantly with El Dorado hops—we stand ready to leap from the precipice of all we know into a new era for our company, our beers and, most importantly, our fans. It’s one that will see us exploring new territory, both geographically and creatively, as we evolve from pacesetters for the American craft brewing movement to cross-planetary champions of the worldwide cause of craft, hoisting our banner to proclaim artisanal beers’ vast superiority over stripped-down, business-driven, industrialized, fizzy, yellow mediocrity. We thank you for shadowing us for the first 18 years of our journey, and welcome you to join us for next leg and all that follows.”

My Description: This is a great beer but it is somewhat of a disappointment and you can tell that this is all marketing. “The hoppiest golden-brown IPA on earth,” what is that? First off, Stone has a reputation for strong and bitter beers, they don’t need cheesy slogans to advertise their product, especially their anniversary ales that are normally sold to Stone fans who already know what Stone is. Second, this beer isn’t even that bitter. I know they said “hoppiest” and not “most bitter” but I just don’t understand what they were trying to do here. On to the review, it begins with a very large and fluffy, off-white colored head with excellent retention level that holds the whole way leaving behind a great amount of lacing. The aroma does smell hoppy with notes of woodsy and tropical hops along with some stone fruit notes and lemon. The aroma smells great and really showcases the El Dorado hop, it’s the best part of the beer. 18th Anniversary IPA is medium bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. I’ll give this beer credit for being extremely smooth and flavorful. Upfront, there are sweet malt notes that are deep along with notes of caramel and hints of tropical fruit. A woodsy presence is detected throughout and the aftertaste is moderately bitter but nothing extreme. The alcohol is nicely hidden but can be tasted as the beer warms. I guess I was just expecting a little more here from Stone. I think I was hoping for a hop bomb with some Brown Ale notes. Oh well, it is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with grilled steaks, baked ham, or roasted potatoes.

ABV: 8.5%  Color: Chestnut/Amber  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 4.5/10

19TH ANNIVERSARY THUNDERSTRUCK IPA: 96 Points

Down Under Anniversary

Down Under Anniversary

This Imperial IPA is released as an anniversary beer in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Our 19th anniversary beer brings the boom, delivering it to the palate in a voluminous, hop-driven thunderclap backed by the power of our brewing passion and intensity. This double IPA owes its considerable oomph to a quartet of Australian hops—Topaz and Galaxy, plus newcomers Ella and Vic Secret. We also had Fairview malt shipped in from Australia just for this brew. The beer’s striking tropical fruit, citrus and peach hop flavors and slightly resinous and aromatically dank earthiness are sure to electrify your senses.”

My Description: This is a well executed Imperial IPA because it highlights the Australian hops wonderfully while still being big, bold, and Stone. It begins with a good sized, white colored head with an excellent retention level that leaves behind some spotty lacing. The aroma is delicate yet dank; this beer smells great. Notes of tropical hops and stone fruits like peaches with just a hint of earthiness. Thunderstruck is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. This beer is very smooth and the alcohol is beautifully hidden. The flavor profile boasts a clean hop bill that sits atop a modest malt backbone. There are notes of earthy hops and tropical hops along with peaches and a hint of apricots. Some hop spice notes can be detected along with raw grains, which fits beautifully in the whole scheme. The aftertaste has a moderately high bitterness that lingers forever. This is a great beer which showcases the exotic hops beautifully. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with fish tacos, pad Thai noodles, or a spicy chili.

ABV: 8.7%  Color: Dark Gold  Sweetness: 1.5/10  Bitterness: 7/10

CRIME: 68 Points

This beer is a crime

This beer is a crime

This American Strong Ale is a limited release in 500 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: Q: “What do you call it when Greg takes his entire harvest bounty of chili pepper varieties from his own personal garden, take half of them and add to…and thus ruin…an otherwise beautiful oak barrel of Double Dry Hopped Lukcy Basartd Ale?” A: “A Crime!”

My Description: It is hard to find Lukcy Basartd in this beer because of the ridiculous amount of spicy pepper flavor present. It’s almost like drinking a smoky pureed pepper with hints of beer. It pours a decent, light beige colored head that fades to a film and holds for a while leaving behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is a blast of hot peppers that smells like a bowl full of buffalo sauce, it is hard to hold the glass to your nose for very long. Crime is medium/full bodied with a lower carbonation level and a dry finish. There are notes of caramel malt and hops in this beer but it is hard to taste them behind the tremendous power of the peppers that takes over your taste buds. The spiciness leaves your lips tingling and your throat on fire. This beer is no joke. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with ribs, chicken wings, or Tums.

ABV: 9.6%  Color: Murky Brown  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 3/10

ENJOY BY: 100 Points

Like a handful of fresh hops!

Smells like a handful of fresh hops!

This Imperial IPA is released sporadically in different parts of the country at different times in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “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 bottle, to be overlooked by all but the most attentive of retailers and beer fans. 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.”

My Description: There is no arguing that if you want to drink this beer you better do before the date printed on the label or else what is the point. Stone wants you to experience this beer at its freshest. In fact, this particular version that I drank was bottled on Sept. 20, 2013 and it’s best enjoyed Oct. 25, 2013. That is a short window and I managed to drink it on Oct. 6, 2013 and I immediately fell in love and gained even more respect for Stone for doing their best for hop fans. This beer smells amazing and really fresh. There is a welcoming array of hops aromas such as floral hops, pine hops, and a touch of citrus hops. Enjoy by is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavors in this ale are nothing short of delicious. There is a tiny note of malt but it is mainly dominated by hops. The hop flavors are slightly complex but at the same time subtle with notes of pine hops, floral hops, and citrus hops. The alcohol is beautifully hidden behind the enjoyable flavors and the aftertaste is highly bitter. Don’t hesitate to buy this. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with Thai noodles, grilled sausage, or roasted duck.

ABV: 9.4%  Color: Orange/Copper  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 8.5/10

FARKING WHEATON W00TSTOUT: 97 Points

Perfectly constructed

Perfectly constructed

This Imperial Stout has an IBU of 65 and is available for a limited time in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “From the most unlikely yet intensely imaginative trio that is actor and uber-geek champion Wil Wheaton, alternative news website Fark.com creator Drew Curtis and Stone CEO/Co-founder Greg Koch, comes an imperial stout unlike any ever made. Brewed with rye, wheat malt and pecans and partially aged in Bourbon whiskey barrels, this viscous yet silken brew erupts with an oaky, nutty bouquet and rich flavors of vanilla, toast and bitter chocolate. Enjoy now or cellar this celebration of nth degree passion and geekery applied most gracefully to the craft of brewing and collaboration-Drew Curtis/Wil Wheaton/Greg Koch Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout!”

My Description: I woke up the next morning after drinking this beer and I was still thinking about how great this beer is. It has a large and dense, dark beige colored head that last forever and leaves behind an abundant amount of lacing. The aroma is inviting and delightful with notes of roasted malt, caramel, chocolate, some nuttiness, and a touch of alcohol. This ale is definitely full bodied and thick with a lower carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is complex with lots of depth. There are flavors of sweet malt, roasted notes, vanilla, oak, and tasty bourbon undertones. There is also a welcoming nutty flavor that I fell in love with. These flavors are balanced beautifully by a moderately low bitter finish that is smooth and creamy. The alcohol is only slightly apparent, considering how high the ABV is, and blends wonderfully with the rest of the flavors. This beauty is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with steaks or chocolate desserts.

ABV: 13%  Color: Black  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 4/10

LA CITRUEILLE CELESTE DE CITRACADO: 90 Points

Complex and Enjoyable

This Autumn Style Ale is a collaboration between Stone, Elysian, and The Bruery. Originally released in Autumn 2011, it is available in limited supply in certain states in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Ale brewed with pumpkin, yams, toasted fenugreek, lemon verbena, and birch bark.”

My Description: This beer a lot going on and the flavors really start to develop as the beer warms up in your hand. My suggestion is to sip and enjoy. It has a decent sized, tan color head that fades rather quickly leaving minimal lacing. The aroma is somewhat of a scavenger hunt of fragrances; if you look hard enough you will pick up on notes of roasted malt, lemon, yams, and a touch of spice. It is medium/full bodied with a lower carbonation level and a smooth, semi-dry finish. The flavors in this beer are wonderful and it starts with chocolate and lemon notes mixed with roasted malt which transitions into a slightly bitter aftertaste with notes of yams and spices. Unfortunately, I just had a hard time locating the pumpkin in this beer but that did not deter from the overall satisfaction of the brew. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with pumpkin pie, butternut squash, or roasted ham.

ABV: 5% Color: Dark Brown Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 2.5/10

MATT’S BURNING ROSIDS: 96 Points

R.I.P.

R.I.P.

This Specialty Ale is available for a limited time in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Life is extraordinarily precious, joyous…and fragile. At Stone, we recently were reminded of this when we lost our dear friend and coworker, Matt Courtright. We felt that there was no better way to share with the world what an extraordinary person he was than by brewing this beer he created. Rather than a somber momento, please think of this as a celebration of Matt. We do. We can’t contemplate it any other way. Matt was by no means a shrinking violet. Quite the contrary. He was exuberant, courageous, outwardly positive, and the type of stalwart friend everybody who knew him was happy to have in their corner. Matt’s smile and voluminous laugh were infectious mainstays around the brewery. He was larger than life in every way…and he was without a doubt an incredible brewer.”

My Description: I love every aspect of this ale and Stone did a great job brewing a commemorative beer. It pours a good sized, white colored head that fades to a film and leaves behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma has farmhouse written all over it with barnyard notes along with lemons, black pepper, yeast esters, and a hint of funk. The aroma is welcoming and pleasant. Matt’s is medium/full bodied with a moderately low carbonation level and a dry finish. This beer tastes great; all the flavors work harmoniously together and one note does not overpower another. Immediately the cherry wood is noticed and it gives the beer an almost sweet-like addition. The wood this beer is aged on does not give off that smoky/oaky type flavor but rather a woodsy sweetness, which works great in this beer. Wheat malt, Light pepper notes, lemongrass, bubblegum, and stone fruits add to the flavor profile. The aftertaste is slightly bitter bringing great balance and high drinkability. The alcohol is beautifully hidden and overall this beer is very clean and smooth. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with roasted duck with raspberry sauce, Arctic Char, or grilled asparagus.

ABV: 10.5%  Color: Golden/Orange  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 2.5/10

NXS IPA: 97 Points

Expertly Crafted

Expertly Crafted

This Imperial IPA is a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and Stone. It is available in limited quantities in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “For many, California is considered an epicenter for brewing innovation, particularly where hoppy IPAs are concerned. We teamed up with longtime craft compatriots and mutual hop admirers Sierra Nevada to create a truly one-of-a-kind IPA. This special-edition beer conveys the true character of collaboration with touches of inventiveness and creativity. Two batches of an IPA were brewed and expertly blended to craft this multilayered beer. The first batch was split down the middle, with 50% being aged in gin-infused bourbon barrels and the remaining half aged in rye whiskey barrels. These beers were blended with the fresh second batch of IPA, which was generously dry-hopped to impart rich aromas to accompany the citrusy, piney, woody, herbaceous flavors achieved from this truly one-of-a-kind collaboration.”

My Description: This is unique Imperial IPA is very smooth, clean, and keeps your interest. It begins with a good sized, off-white colored head with a good retention level that leaves behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma is welcoming and complex with notes of pine hops, exotic fruits, citrus hops, faint gin notes, and a touch of sweetness. NxS IPA is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is delicious with a great depth. There are notes of pine hops, herbal hops, faint alcohol notes, and some malt notes as well. The aftertaste is moderately bitter but nothing extreme, this beer is balanced beautifully. There is also a lingering gin note that delights, the finish is the best part of the beer. This is exactly what I expected from two amazing breweries. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with mint desserts or a mild cigar.

ABV: 8.2%  Color: Caramel  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 5/10

PUNISHMENT: 71 Points

Enough Punishment!

Enough Punishment!

This American Strong Ale is a limited release in 500 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: Q: “What do you call it when you take a sip of oak barrel aged Double Bastard Ale that’s had the other half of the bounty of chili peppers from Greg’s home garden ceremoniously added in, resulting in a punishingly intense level of hot pepper heat to an already overly intense beer whose elevated alcohol level caused a significant transference of pain-inducing capsicum?” A: “Punishment.” Punishment is 2013 Double Bastard Ale brewed with freshly harvested peppers and aged in bourbon barrels. Brutally hot and unyielding in its imposition, this intensely hellish spawn of Caribbean red hots, fatalis and Moruga scorpion peppers is a just dessert for any spice-taunting masochist who dares to engage it.”

My Description: This is slightly more tolerable than ‘Crime;’ it is still ridiculously spicy but at least it drinks more like a beer than pureed pepper juice. It begins with a decent sized, beige colored head that fades to a film but holds leaving behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is somewhat pleasant with notes of oak, caramel malt, and of course fiery habanero peppers. Punishment is full bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a dry finish. There are oak notes and bourbon undertones as well as caramel malt and hops but spicy pepper notes completely dominate the flavor profile. Even the alcohol is hidden behind the spice. This beer quickly becomes intolerable as the heat burns your throat and tingles your lips. The aftertaste is moderately bitter but the only lingering flavor is the heat. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with ribs, chicken wings, or grilled pork tenderloin.

ABV: 12%  Color: Reddish/Brown  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 4/10

R&R COCONUT IPA: 89 Points

Where's the Coconut?!

Where’s the Coconut?!

This Fruit IPA is a collaboration with a couple homebrewers. It is a one-time release and available in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Originally dreamt up by homebrewers Robert Masterson and Ryan Reschan, who earned themselves the top prize in our 2013 American Homebrewers Association homebrewing contest, this innovative beer marks a refreshing sea change for IPA lovers everywhere. It was brewed with 280 pounds of coconut and an unusual blend of hop varieties, including a few from faraway lands or just brand spankin’ new, and is guaranteed to taste like no IPA that’s gone before.”

My Description: When I first heard of this beer I just had to have it. After searching a few beer stores I finally found it and all my time and effort was a disappointment. This beer has little if any coconut character. From the hype, I was expecting the coconut to play a center role in this ale but it isn’t so. Never-the-less, this is still a great IPA with delicious hop flavors and a smooth body, which is why I gave it a 89 score. It could have been higher if the damn coconut was there! It has a large, off-white colored head with a great retention level and a lacing that just glues on. The aroma is pure Stone with notes of citrus hops, tropical hops, peaches, caramel malt, and a minuscule amount of coconut. This ale is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The alcohol is completely hidden adding to the smoothness and drinkability of this IPA. Upfront, delicious flavors of tropical and citrus hops dominate while pine hops come though in the finish. The aftertaste is moderately bitter with a very weak, if any, coconut flavor. This is a great IPA but I just wouldn’t buy it again because it was misleading. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with burgers and grilled shrimp.

ABV: 7.7%  Color: Copper/Orange  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 5.5/10

SORRY NOT SO SORRY IPA: 94 Points

Big flavors

Big flavors

This Imperial IPA is a collaboration between Stone, Bale Breaker, and 4 Hands and is available in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “We make no apologies for the fact that we love brewing bold, flavorful, hop-centric beers. Naturally, we welcomed the opportunity to work with two amazing craft breweries that share our lupulin-fueled dedication: St. Louis-based 4 Hands Brewing Co., known for its innovative IPAs; and Bale Breaker Brewing Co., whose owners’ family has farmed hops in Washington’s Yakima Valley for generations. Since theirs was the first hop farm to commercially grow the beloved Simcoe variety, using that piney, stone fruit-like hop was a must. Puréed peaches upped the fruit factor, while experimental hops HBC 342 and HBC 344 introduced notes of stone fruit, tropical fruit, berries and citrus to this IPA. Yes, we made another IPA. We concede it’s not surprising, but we are who we are: an unapologetic band of hopheads psyched to explore the ever-expanding IPA universe.”

My Description: This is a nicely executed IIPA in which the peach notes are detectable and work in harmony with the rest of the beer. It begins with a large, off-white colored head that fades to a ring that holds the whole way leaving behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is inviting with big hop notes such as tropical hops and citrus hops. There are also notes of stone fruits, bready malt, and of course peaches. Sorry Not So Sorry is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is balanced beautifully with all the flavor notes blending cleanly. There are notes of peaches, pine hops, tropical hops, peaches and other stone fruits, caramel malt, and resiny hops. The aftertaste is moderately bitter with lingering pine hop notes. This beauty is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with Thai noodles, spicy chicken, or baked cheesecake.

ABV: 9.3%  Color: Golden/Orange  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 5.5/10

SUEDE: 90 Points

Creative and Tasty

Creative and Tasty

This Imperial Porter is a collaboration with 10 Barrel and Blue Jacket. It is a one-time release and is available in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “When Parisi and Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele decided to collaborate, it was essential that they tap a special individual to complete their triad of fermentation domination, and they found just that in Tonya Cornett, the brewmaster at Bend, Oregon’s 10 Barrel Brewing Company. Together, they decided on a sturdy yet velvety base of imperial porter and developed a plan to celebrate the bounty of the environs in which it was produced by harvesting avocado honey, jasmine and calendula flowers (some from our very own Stone Farms) and infusing them into the beer to create something complex and uniquely Southern Californian. Consider it craft cross-pollination at its finest.”

My Description: This is an interest selection of ingredients to put in a Porter, it’s hard to imagine delicate floral notes in a robust and roasty beer. However, this is Stone and somehow the flavor profile flows cleanly and delivers a beer that is worth nodding your head to. It begins with a very large, beige colored head that lasts for a long time and leaves behind a beautiful amount of lacing. The aroma is pleasant with notes of roasted malts, honey, tobacco, and some floralness. Suede is medium/full bodied with a lower carbonation level and a dry finish. This beer is smooth and the alcohol is nicely hidden but will be slightly felt. Upfront, there are notes of roasted malt and some chocolate accompanied by some floral notes that I can only imagine to be Calendula flower since I’ve never eaten that flower before. Honey notes come through cleanly as well and add a sweet element to this slightly bitter brew. As the beer warms up, Jasmine notes begin to come through giving this beer an interesting complexity. This Porter is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with grilled ribs, beef stew, or Farmstead Gouda.

ABV: 9.6%  Color: Very Dark Brown  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 3/10

Stone Chai-Spiced Imperial Russian Stout (2015): 95 Points

Big spice notes

Big spice notes

This Imperial Russian Stout is a limited release in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “(A) fascinating addition to our “Odd Beers for Odd Years” series, incorporates cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger, a dash of black pepper and a dose of black tea to emulate the aroma and taste of authentic chai tea. Combine these strikingly piquant ingredients with the classic version of Stone Imperial Russian Stout―with its incumbent flavors of chocolate, black currants, coffee and roastiness―and an already profoundly rewarding beer ascends to new, flavorful dimensions.”

My Description: The addition of all spices to the amazing Stone Imperial Russian Stout works well if you’re looking for something a little different from time to time. It begins with a decent sized, dark beige colored head with an excellent retention level that leaves behind a great amount of lacing. The aroma is spice forward with notes of cardamon, ginger, and an overall Chai presence with a hint of alcohol. Chai-Spiced IRS is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is expected with Chai notes dominating. Ginger, cardamon, and clove are easily detected along with faint notes of caramel malt, chocolate, and molasses. There is a slight alcohol warmth and the aftertaste has a noticeable bitterness but it is subdued. This is a great holiday beer because it is big, warming, and the spice notes fit the mood. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with curry dishes, teriyaki chicken, or tiramisu.

ABV: 10.6%  Color: Black  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 3/10

STONE COFFEE MILK STOUT: 88 Points

Bittersweet

Bittersweet

This Milk Stout is released randomly in limited quantities in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “There’s no shortage of talented people at Stone, and each makes their presence known in their own unique way. Brian Gallagher, a brewer who learned the art of fermentation in the UK, used the beer you now hold, a take on a traditional English milk stout, as his vehicle for personal expression. Originally brewed as a limited edition offering at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, this coffee-laced milk stout quickly became a favorite among Gallagher’s peers. Made bittersweet and creamy while remaining smooth and easy-drinking thanks to the addition of milk sugar, it’s clear in one sip why this is a brew we needed to share with fans everywhere.”

My Description: This is definitely a different beer from Stone because the alcohol is low and the hop content is low. Still, it’s a really good beer. It begins with a good sized, beige colored head with a nice retention level that holds for a while leaving behind a good amount of lacing. The aroma is inviting with notes of roasted malts, roasted coffee, and dark chocolate. Coffee Milk Stout is light/medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. This beer showcases a great balance between bitter and sweet and the low alcohol content makes this a good session beer for those who are craving a stout to drink a few bottles of. Roasted malts set the backbone for this beer holding up notes of roasted coffee, some sugary sweetness, and a hint of chocolate. The aftertaste is slightly bitter combating the sweetness nicely. This makes for an easy drinking beer for any occasion. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with smoked sausage, chocolate desserts, or a cigar.

ABV: 4.2%  Color: Black  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 2.5/10

STONE IMPERIAL RUSSIAN STOUT (2013): 100 Points

Drink like a Czar

Drink like a Czar

This Imperial Russian Stout is released on special occasions in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Stone Imperial Russian Stout is so thick, rich and well, sinful, you might worry that you’ll be doomed to the fiery pits just for thinking about a sip. Rest assured, however, that even though this seemingly pernicious brew is indeed as black as sin, we guarantee that no actual sin was committed in making it… you’ll have to add that on your own. This massive and intensely aromatic beer abounds with notes of anise, black currants, coffee, and roastiness, and its heavy palate is nothing to be trifled with!”

My Description: What a damn good brew that only gets better as it warms in your hands. This beer is strong, flavorful, and delicious. It begins with a big and dense, dark beige colored head with a great retention level and a beautiful amount of lacing. The aroma is warming and welcoming with notes of coffee, roasted malts, alcohol, and hints of dark fruit. It is full bodied with a lower carbonation level and a dry finish. The texture is thick and semi-creamy with only minor hints of alcohol. Upfront, there are tasty notes of roasted malt, coffee, anise, and caramel. Dark fruits make an appearance from time to time but only minimally. The aftertaste is slightly bitter bringing perfect balance to this stout. This beer is very smooth and worthy of sipping. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with dark chocolate, grilled lamb chops, or your favorite Maduro cigar.

ABV: 10.6%  Color: Black  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 3/10

STONE OLD GUARDIAN: 91 Points

Barleywine

This Barleywine is a special release that is available for a limited time throughout the year. This is the 2011 release. It is available on draft and in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: The aroma is bready with yeast esters and toffee and caramel. The flavor is malty and yeasty, fruity, some lingering bitterness. Full body upfront, finishes dry, with a touch of alcohol.

My Description: Barleywine is a beer that is strong, flavorful, and designed to be sipped and enjoyed. This is definitely one that I can enjoy. The head is nice but it disappears rather quickly leaving some bubbles and little lacing, which is normal for a 12% beer. The aroma has an apparent hop fragrance that is nicely accompanied by a sweet candy like scent. You will also smell some dark fruits, raisins, molasses, honey, and caramel. The aroma is complex and enjoyable. The beer is definitely strong and fuller bodied with a good carbonation level for a barleywine. You will taste some sweetness up front with notes of malt, figs, dark fruits, and alcohol. The aftertaste is a 180 because it is bitter with a hop taste that is really nice. This beer is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with gourmet cheeses, steaks, or lamb chops.

ABV: 12% Color: Hazy Amber Sweetness: 4/10 Bitterness: 7/10

STONE RUINTEN IPA: 97 Points

A bitter older brother

A bitter older brother

This Imperial IPA has an IBU of 110 and is released for a limited time in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “We first released this decidedly indelicate beer in 2012, as Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our belovedly bitter Stone Ruination IPA. Stone RuinTen IPA uses the same recklessly hoppy recipe as the 2012 release; only the name has changed, as we plan to unleash this belligerently delicious hop monster upon the public annually from now on. We packed a whopping five pounds of hops into each barrel, and cranked up the ABV to stand up to the hop onslaught. The results are glorious, and we know you’ll rejoice in tasting this audacious gem of hoppy splendor once again. You’re welcome.”

My Description: You need to really love hops for this one because it is on a whole other level compared to other IIPA’s; this beer is super bitter to the core. The head is average in size with a light beige color. It has a good retention level and a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is pleasant with notes of citrus and woodsy hops with a light sweet malt presence. It is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. There is a tasty malt backbone to this beer to help subdue the overpowering bitter aftertaste, which is clean and delicious. There are also flavor notes of citrus hops, pine hops, some tropical fruit presence, and hints of alcohol. This beer is definitely for hop heads and putting a bottle down will get you buzzed nicely. This ale is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with Thai dishes, charred steaks, or jambalaya.

ABV: 10.8%  Color: Autumn Orange  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 8/10

STONE VERTICAL EPIC (11,11,11): 96 Points

Deliciously Epic

This Beer is different every year that it is released. This beer is the 11/11/2011 release. It is available on draft and in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description:  This brew has Anaheim chilies, whole cinnamon sticks, brewed with Belgian Flanders Golden Ale Yeast, banana and clove overtones. Rich flavor and some heat.

My Description: I love a beer that knows how to use chilies; it’s not just about the spice, it is also about the flavor of the chilies as well and this beer delivers on both ends.  First, the head is nice and fluffy with a beige color and pretty good retention. The lacing is good and overall the head is above average for this level ABV. The aroma is enticing and satisfying. You will get notes of the yeast esters, banana and clove, chilies, cinnamon, and some malt. The beer is fuller in body and strong. The flavors work together in harmony to not overpower you but to give you many tastes that are enjoyable and addicting. First off the chilies are delicious; they add the right amount of spice to the beer while giving a great, fresh from the farm, taste that brings a smile to your face. In addition to the chilies, you will also get some banana notes, cloves and spices, minor alcohol, and cinnamon makes its appearance from time to time. The aftertaste is moderately bitter with an amazing hop taste. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with flat iron steaks, chicken wings, or BBQ. Enjoy!!!

ABV: 9.4%  Color: Dark Amber  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 5.5/10

VERTICAL EPIC (12,12,12): 97 Points

The end of a journey

The end of a journey

This Belgian Style Strong Dark is the last chapter in the Vertical Epic Series. It is available in 22 oz. bottles. until the supply runs out. Then it will be all gone.

Brewer’s Description: ” In this, the final edition, you can expect a perfectly balance *womp* of spices: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, sweet orange peel, clove (only a little!) and rosehips, all in the context of a dark Belgian style abbey-ish beer…but not as sweet. Dry even. Stone style.”

My Description: This is a great way to end the series by brewing a beer that is complex, flavorful, and made with the highest quality.  It has an amazing, dark beige colored head that lasts for some time and produces an intense amount of lacing. The aroma is warming and slightly complex with notes of Autumn spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. This is accompanied by notes of licorice and a hint of oak and roasted malts. It is full bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a very dry finish. The texture is extremely smooth and creamy with an alcohol flavor that is slightly noticed but definitely felt. The flavor profile is complex and new flavors develop as the beer warms. Upfront, there are dark fruit notes like raisins accompanied by chocolate, roasted malts, and a hint of orange. There are spice notes throughout that accompany the flavors beautifully. The aftertaste is moderately bitter and brings a nice overall balance to the ale. Enjoy it while it lasts. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with a butternut squash stew, chocolate desserts, or a roasted goose.

ABV: 9%  Color: Black  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 3.5/10

WINTER HARVEST (2014): 92 Points

Complex wine notes

Complex wine notes

This Specialty Belgian Strong is released in limited quantities in 500 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Stone Brewer Matt Courtright came up with the recipe for this Belgian-style ale, designing it specifically to be aged in wine barrels. We did just that for over two years, during which native wild yeasts continued fermenting the beer. The result is an off-dry ale with pleasing levels of malt and tart fruit, especially tropical fruit flavors: guava from the Merlot grapes and pineapple from the Sauvignon Blanc barrels. Oak tannins contribute mellow non-hop bitterness while the Belgian yeast lends muted notes of clove and banana. Cellared properly, the dryness and complexity will increase over time.”

My Description: Stone has created a pleasant beer that is different than their usual offerings. It begins with a good sized, off-white colored head with an excellent retention level that leaves behind some lacing. The aroma is complex and intriguing with strong yeast notes that deliver scents of unrip bananas and a hint of funk. There are also aroma notes of white wine, french oak, floralness, and a hint of sweetness. Winter Harvest is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The flavor profile is as complex as the aroma with an overall white wine presence and notes of pears, bananas, tropical fruit, pineapples, floral hops, with a hint of tart. The alcohol comes through slightly but never becomes intrusive. The aftertaste is delicious with a hint of bitterness with lingering oak notes. Overall, this is a nicely balanced beer that makes for a great sipper for any occasion. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled asparagus, soft cheeses, or chocolate truffles.

ABV: 11.3%  Color: Murky Brown/Orange  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 2/10