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SAVOR 2014 Brewery Profile: Stone Brewing Company (@stonebrewingco)

By DCBeer contributor Sean Dalton

Name: Stone Brewing Co.

Location: Escondido, CA

Website: http://www.stonebrew.com/

Type: Production brewery

Available in DC Market: Yes (DC, MD, and VA)

What You Need to Know: Founded in 1996, Stone has become the craft beer industry’s banner carrier for unapologetically hopped-up West Coast beers. The marketing of such understatedly named beers as Arrogant Bastard and Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale seem to be a direct reflection of the credo of the company’s ubiquitous CEO, Greg Koch: “Fizzy Yellow Beer is for wussies.” You may have seen even more of the Stone Gargoyle mascot leering at you from bottle shop shelves over the past year, however, as its wildly popular Enjoy By series of hoppy ales exhorted craft beer drinkers to consume their contents by dates certain. . . or be damned. Indeed, is it any coincidence that when one of the characters in 2002’s horror film “Cabin Fever” abandons his friends to their grisly fate, he flees with a couple of sixers of Arrogant Bastard? We think not.

Beer #1: 10 Barrel/Bluejacket /Stone Suede (Imperial Porter / 9.6%)

In Their Own Words: “When [former Bluejacket brewmaster Megan] 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.”

Food Pairing: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Our Thoughts: This one’s a bit of a head-scratcher. Sure, the beer was brewed with honey, jasmine and calendula flowers, but did anyone really pick out those notes above the roasted, chocolatey malts when it hit local markets last fall? We’ll keep an open mind, though, especially if it’s allowed to warm before serving.

Beer #2: Kyle Hollingsworth/Keri Kelli/Stone Collective Distortion IPA (Double IPA / 9.25%)

In Their Own Words: "In bringing together artisans from disparate aural planes, one might expect an offbeat, feedback-warped cacophony, shrill to the point of unlistenable. Yet, by inviting Kyle Hollingsworth, keyboardist for eclectic, jam-prone sextet, The String Cheese Incident, and Keri Kelli, wailing rock guitarist of Alice Cooper fame, we were able to make truly beautiful music. Turns out, these musicians have a great deal in common, both with each other and with Stone. We all enjoy turning things up to 11, and that is represented in this collaborative offering, an imperial India pale ale ably backed by Nugget, Comet and Calypso hops, and amplified care of a healthy dry-hopping with Vic's Secret, a new Australian hop, adding citrus and tropical fruit oomph. To give this modern masterpiece some soulful, classic character, we traced the roots of brewing to the days when Old World herbs were used to spice beers, adding in coriander and, a first for us, elderberries. To stand up to that sumptuous spice and blaring bitterness, we added golden naked oats, which are lightly roasted and add body and enhanced mouthfeel to the brew like a steady, unbreakable backbeat to an incendiary jam solo. Sit back, crank the volume and get lost in this operatic incarnation of genres combined in the name of invention."

Food Pairing: Thin slices of smoked mackerel served on hearts of palm with lemon, dill and caviar crème fraiche.

Our Thoughts: It will be interesting to see how the hop acids from this typically hop-forward Stone offering will play with the salty fattiness of the caviar crème fraiche, and the smokiness of the fish. But will the malts from a DIPA grain bill crank up the distortion pedal a bit too much on the lemon and dill? We’ll see.

This profile is a part of the DCBeer.com SAVOR Brewery Profile series. For more information, follow the link to see profiles of all 2014 SAVOR participants.

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