June 2, 2009

Stone Brewing Company

At a recent Stone Brewing Company tasting in New York City, we decided to try as many of the hard to find or retired brews on tap as we could. Stone Brewing is from the San Diego area and their IPA is one of our favourite and readily available microbrews.

The first flight (please disregard the Rogue labels, it's only the glass provided) included the following: Ruination IPA from cask (Imperial IPA, 7.7% ABV, dry, mellow profile, vibrant hops, faint citrus, orange peel, resiny, slight bitterness on the finish); Oaked Arrogant Bastard from cask (7.2% ABV, rich, toasted malt, generous oakiness); 2006 Double Bastard Brandy Barrel Aged (American Strong Ale, 10.5% ABV, sweet and strong nose, big and long alcoholic finish); and the 10th Anniversay IPA (American Imperial IPA, 10% ABV, sweet almost port-like nose, smooth).

Next up was the Old Guardian 2008 barleywine (11.2% ABV, light carbonation, very strong alcohol, slight bitterness, in a word 'big') and the Sublimely Self Righteous (Strong Ale, 8.7% ABV, not as sweet as some of the other beers tasted, very drinkable for the amount of alcohol).
Although Stone's 2009 Imperial Russian Stout is available now, the 2007 and 2008 were available on tap, the 2008 on nitro. Both are about 10.8% ABV... the '07 had an apparent cocoa aroma, sweet maltiness and a lingering bittersweet finish while the '08 was a little more sweet than chocolate, more dark fruit and alcohol apparent and more creaminess due to the nitro tap with a light finish. The 2008 tasted younger and fresher, so we'll definitely have to try this year's batch (that's currently available for sale). We also look forward to trying the 12th Anniversary Bitter Oatmeal Chocolate Stout as well for comparison.

The final tastes included the Arrogant Bastard Bourbon Barrel Aged (far left, an American Strong Ale, 10% ABV, some fig and dark fruit, sweet vanilla that lingers for hours, strong, like real Bourbon, not for a beginner); Ruination IPA from cask (2nd from right, why not have another final taste of the Ruination IPA from the cask to compare against the traditional tap pour); and the Ruination IPA on draft instead of cask (far right, 7.7% ABV, has more apparent alchohol, citrus and fruitness than the cask and is more fresh, tastes better as it sits in the glass, not as mellow as the cask but still great in its own way).
All in all a great selection of beers, that's why we like the Stone Beers in general. There is something for everyone, the novice and the connoisseur.
Stone Brewing Company is located in Escondido, CA

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