Friday, February 5, 2010

Free-For-All Friday - 2010 Stone Winter Storm

It's no secret that we here at Expect Odd Things are more than just casual fans of Stone Brewing Company from Escondido, California. This North San Diego County brewery is renowned for their strong ales, and various other unique creations. Next week, February 7th-13th, they will offer "The Largest Collection of Stone Beers on Tap in One Place at One Time, EVER!" during their Stone Winter Storm they will have over 36 different Stone beers on tap at one time.

Today we'll take a closer look at the different series of beers offered at Stone during their Winter Storm, as well as highlight their specialty beers and beers you've probably never even heard of before. You like Belgians? Stone actually has a couple beers to offer you. How about single beers brewed by three world renowned breweries? Stone's gotcha covered there too. I wish to no end that I was able to attend this amazing offering of what I believe to be a beer demigod. However, I'll be huddled at home crying tears of Ruination, as not attending the Winter Storm will clearly ruin my week. So, here is our wrap-up of the 36-plus Stone Brewing Company beers offered up during their 2010 Stone Winter Storm.

First off, Stone will offer (as they almost always do) their year-round offerings available on draft in the Stone World Bistro & Gardens. Stone Pale Ale, Stone Smoked Porter, Stone IPA, Arrogant Bastard Ale, Ruination IPA, Levitation Ale, OAKED Arrogant Bastard, and Sublimely Self-Righteous are available, per the usual.

The first collection, or series of beers produced by Stone is appropriately their Anniversary Ales. During the 2010 Stone Winter Storm you'll be able to sample seven of the last eight Stone Anniversary Ales. Their 7th Anniversary Pale Ale, 8th Anniversary Brown Ale, 9th Anniversary Wheat Ale, 11th Anniversary in the now year-round Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, the 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, and their most recent the 13th Anniversary Imperial Red Ale.

The next series available is their annual versions of their Old Guardian Barley Wine. The 2004, 2009, and 2010 Barley Wines will be available in addition to the 2008 Old Guardian Aged in Red Wine Barrels. Each of the these beers age and have aged differently and tasting them back to back will allow you to taste the slight differences that bottle-conditioning, recipe variation, and barrel-aging produce.

One of Stone's better regarded series' is their Stone Imperial Russian Stout. It is regularly voted among the top beers in its style. Stone IRS, as they call, will have their 2006, 2007 and 2008 brews available on tap at the Stone World Bistro and Gardens during the 2010 Stone Winter Storm.

My personal favorite in the group of annual series' is the Stone Double Bastard Ale. Released each year in early November, this extra hoppy, extra heavy, extra strong beer carries a whallop. They will even have a special Double Dry-Hopped version of this past year's 2009 Double Bastard Ale at the Winter Storm. That will be an added bonus to the 2005 and 2006 offerings of Stone DB. (Side note: I'll likely be purchasing a 3 Liter Bottle of their 2009 Double Bastard Ale for my 1st Anniversary. I can think of nothing better to celebrate a first year of marriage. I may even pick up a second and age for our 5th or 10th anniversary. Check out the size of these monsters on the right.)

Next up is likely the most sought after of all of the Stone beers. Their Vertical Epic series has quickly become a fan favorite, stores shelves being cleared quickly of each years offering. Each beer is meant to be cellared  and then sampled along side the last of the series which will be released on December 12, 2012. Each is released one year, one month and one day after the previous years release. The first of the series was 02.02.02. At the 2010 Stone Winter Storm, 06.06.06 VE, 07.07.07 VE, 08.08.08 VE, and the most recent 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale will be on tap.

The most recent and last of the series from Stone is their all-new Collaboration series. In what seems to be an odd take on collaborations, Stone choose not to just pair up with some well-known brewery to create an unparalleled beer. No, no. This is Stone we're talking about and they must do everything, bigger and louder. When Stone collaborates, they do it with two others to make a three-headed monster. Each brewery brings what they can. Their special malts, yeasts, unique brewing styles and unique knowledge of the industry and their local distribution markets.

Stone's first go 'round they invited Danish brewers Mikkeller and fellow San Diegan AleSmith Brewing to create a Belgian Style Triple Ale. Second they joined Norwegian brewers of Nøgne Ø to join them with Jolly Pumpkin brewers from Michigan to create a Special Holiday Ale, however this is the only collaboration NOT available on tap during the Winter Storm. (Part 1 and 2 are available in 22 ounce bomber bottles though!) Next they teamed with BrewDog of Scotland and Cambridge Brewing Co. of Massachusetts to create their first ever lager beer at Stone. Think they made it yellow and fizzy? I don't think so, its a Juxtaposition Black Pilsner. The most recently released collaboration is with Maui Brewing of Hawaii and a homebrewer named Ken Schmidt that had won their homebrewing competition to help create the Kona Coffe, Macadamia, Coconut Porter. Stone also teamed up with BrewDog, and just BrewDog to help them create bashah, a Double Black Beglian IPA. More recently Stone paired with Firestone Walker and 21st Amendment breweries to create a yet-to-be-announced beer. Keep a look out on our Facebook feed for more info, as it becomes available.

In addition, there are Stone's truly Special Releases. By-and-by Stone loves to call anything other than their year-round releases as special, however as highlighted here, most fit into a larger sub-category of their beers. That said, they do produce truly special and unique beers. Some may be altered takes on Stone favorites or simply one of a kind offerings. Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers, and Double Dry-Hopped Stone IPA are some of those.They will also be serving their Cali-Belgique, which is their Stone-spin on a Belgian IPA.

Lastly, everything that Stone does or produce is not crass or loud. In fact, Stone has a very charitable side of their business. Unfortunately, they entered the world of brewing beer for charity in unfortunate circumstances. The son, Sawyer Sherwood, of one of the brewery's employees was diagnosed with ALD (Adrenoleukodystrophy) in the Spring of 2003. The beer they choose to brew in his name was a rare one for Stone at the time, and still, a Belgian Triple Ale. Named for the stricken son, Sawyer's Triple commemmorates his fight and all of those with ALD. "Absolutely 100% of the proceeds will go to charity; specifically, to Fight ALD!, the research and education foundation started by Janis Sherwood." This beer is only sold on site, so all you East Coasters will have to make a trip out to their brewery in Northern San Diego if you want a sample.

Their final beer available on draft during the Winter Storm also donates 100% of proceeds to charity. This is without a doubt, the RAREST and hardest to find Stone beer ever produced. Back in 2005, while constructing their Stone World Bistro and Gardens, they set up a "Stone Wall" where one could purchase a rock with all monies going to charity. Stone needed several volunteers to assist in the labor intensive task of creating this pillar of their new restaurant and bar. They had a party to celebrate its completion, topped off by their very own beer StoneWall Ale. This is also the highest alcohol content beer ever produced by Stone Brewing Company. It comes in at a 12.8%, this American Barley Wine is nothing to play around with. To this date, very few beyond the attendees of this party have sampled or even been witness to an empty bottle of the stuff. Stone is really providing you a treat with this beer if you do attend the 2010 Stone Winter Storm.

One important thing to remember about this event is that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE BEERS MENTIONED ARE ON TAP AT THE SAME TIME! That feat in itself in absolutely incredible. But, if you think these 36 different beers are too much, then you'd be overwhelmed to find out that they have a bevy of more Stone beers ready and available in 22 ounce bombers, and more kegs ready for those freshly tapped ones as the week wears on. Finally there will be casks available as well, each different. For more information about these 'ready in waiting' beers, click here.

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