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By Super User Mon 03 Mar 2014
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Stone Brewery City Tap Takeover: Part Two

Not only is the legendary American craft brewery Stone staging the huge City Tap Takeover (over 40 taps at Fork & Brewer an Malthouse) on 13 March 2014 but their dynamic co-founder and CEO Greg Koch will be visiting New Zealand. The City Tap Takeover (Twitter: #citytaptakeover) will be the key event on his tour here.

An article on the Beer Pulse website noted that “Stone is coming off of what is the most active 12-18 month stretch in its 17-year history. The company opened a new brewery and restaurant, a farm, an airport dining venue, and added a 120-barrel brewhouse and packaging hall. Not to mention, the company has hired 185 people year-to-date.” There is also a US$24 million (NZ$28.7 million) hotel and headquarters project though the date for that remains elusive.

Stone was founded in 1996 and the LA Times reported that “Stone has grown from 400 barrels that year to 177,200 barrels last year, developing a cult-like following among craft beer enthusiasts.”

One of their most famous beers is Stone Ruination IPA (8.2%). It apparently earned it’s moniker “because of its truly ruinous effect on your palate.” The brewers believe “this massive hop monster will change forever your preconceptions of what defines good beer.” Stone brilliantly described this “indelicate jewel” as “a liquid poem to the glory of the hop."

This orange amber beer with a bright white head throws a billowing nose of citrus, pine needles, flowers and lemon peel. The hefty body has notes of caramel and honey under lashings of tropical fruit and spicy hops. Ruination ends with an assertive bitter finish that just goes on and on.

Next up is Stone Russian Imperial Stout (10.5%) which weighs in at about 60 IBUs which is comparatively modest by Stone’s extremely high standards. First brewed in 2000, the City Tap Takeover will feature the 2010, 2011 and 2013 Espresso versions of this thick, rich, sinful and darkly delicious libation. Like many strong stouts, this Stone beer ages magnificently.

It is close to pitch black with a milk chocolate head. There are notes of dark chocolate, charred toast, rich coffee, star anise, cocoa powder, berries, molasses toffee and grapefruit ahead of a dry, balanced yet slightly astringent bitter finish. It is a silky soft beer and Greg Koch says "there’s no question that Stone Imperial Stout is revered among enthusiasts… I know, because I’m one of ’em and I can hardly wait for it to come out each year!" The Espresso stout uses coffee from their San Diego neighbours at Ryan Brothers Coffee. Despite its superficial drinkability, this is definitely a beer for sipping and savouring.

Basically, Stone had been making a Smoked Porter for close to ten years when one of their brewers had a “brilliant idea” – why not add whole Madagascar [7] vanilla beans to a small batch of the finished beer. Pouring ruby red with a tan head, the Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean (5.9%) is a mixture of sweet and spice. Originally a very limited edition, the Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean was only bottled for the first time in 2012. There are notes of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, milkshake, faint smoke and lots of bitter roast leading up to a dry finish.

Stone Cali-Belgique IPA aged in White Wine Barrels (8.8%) may need some explanation. This is the trademark Stone IPA brewed with an artisan Belgian yeast strain. It has been described by the brewers as “both completely new and different…Behind the fancy title is simply delicious Stone IPA dressed up in new Belgian duds.”

Weighing in at over 70 IBUs (International Bitterness Units), this beer has a heady aroma of white wine, grapes, orange and spice. In the glass there are notes of orange peel, wine, funky Belgian yeast, pine, perfume, oak, vanilla and caramel. This vinous brew finishes bitter then tart at the very end.

Remember, some of the rarer beers will only have one keg so it will pay to get in quickly. March 13 promises to be one for the ages.


Neil Miller
Beer Writer

This is an abridged version of Neil Miller’s blog which originally appeared on the Malthouse website (http://themalthouse.co.nz/blog). Neil is an owner and director of the Fork & Brewer.

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