It has been far too long since weve visited with our friends at Stone Brewing. In fact, since our last conversations with Greg Koch and crew, Stone has opened a new brewery, hired a new Lead Brewer and opened a burgeoning restaurant dubbed the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens. Clearly another conversation was in order as theres much to discuss.
I was fortunate to catch up to Greg recently and carve out a small chunk of his chaotic schedule for TheManRoom. Obviously the Bistro is first and foremost on Gregs mind, and he told me opening it was a journey and a challenge. Right now, Stone is taking a step back to admire what theyve created. This is a time to tweak and perfect before undertaking the next leg of their journey. The Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens applies the standards that Greg Koch & Steve Wagner, co-founders of Stone Brewing, used in creating their world class beers and employs them to Stones food operations. Only the freshest ingredients are used in each and every single plate offered. Organically grown produce is preferred when available, and 100% naturally raised meats. But dont confuse Stones commitment to quality as a commitment to health foods.Lets take a look at the Spud Buds for example. Stone IPA organic garlicky mashapotatoes (Stones spelling, not mine), balled up and deep fried in Arrogant Bastard Ale batter. It is served with Stone Smoked Porter BBQ sauce for dipping. Spud Buds sound like a golden brown heaven. There are some vegetarian dishes and vegan offerings for the health minded. Still, the meats and sausages are a beer drinking carnivores dream.One byproduct of Stones Spud Buds and Arrogant Bastard Onion rings is waste vegetable oil. I dont thing we can call it waste any longer. Stone has converted one of its delivery trucks to run on bio-diesel. That same vegetable oil that cooks your spuds and rings now powers the truck bringing your delicious Stone beers to market.Stones beer portfolio has to be the most hardcore lineup of big beers in todays market, ranging from my favorite Stones Old Guardian Barleywine to their infamous Stone Imperial Russian Stout – which ironically is being aged by the case in my basement. Stones list of offerings also contains a trio of the best Pale Ales in the market: Stone Pale Ale, Stone India Pale Ale and Stone Ruination IPA. Suspiciously missing is an Imperial India Pale Ale, but with all that Stone gives us, we cant expect it all.This year alone they have given us two new limited run beers aiding in Stones continual honing of the brewing process. The latest offering in their Vertical Epic series, 07.07.07, is a funky Saison as only Stone could produce. Its a perfect summer/fall beer for grilling, tailgating, and surprisingly, cooking. I marinated a Turkey breast in 07.07.07 for 3 days and then smoked it over some oak for a few hours. The result was tender, moist and full of tastiness as a direct result of all the Stone goodness infused within.Stones other 2007 new offering is their 11th Anniversary Black IPA, which from all reports I hear is fantastic. Unfortunately, I have yet to spot a bottle in the wild. Do not fret; I havent and will never stop searching.One Stone selection I have been able to find is Ruination. Stop scratching your head; I know Ruination isnt a new Stone beer, but it is in a spiffy new package: 12 oz bottles. These little guys are great when you dont have time to sit down with a bomber but feel the need to assault your palette with hops. This new size should also entice bars and restaurants to carry the smaller and more affordable bottle. I asked Greg if Stones packaging would ever include cans, which he replied would be highly unlikely. Dont plan on seeing a Double Bastard Ale on a plane anytime soon.Ruination has a cohort that is looking very similar in its 12 oz packaging. Oaked Bastard is not only being released now in a 12 oz bottle, but will see distribution year-round. Hopefully the Double Bastard will be going into 12 oz bottles as well because to put it simply “ that beer kicks my ass every time. The seasonal release of Double Bastard is closer than you think. Before you know it, a snifter of Double Bastard will be your best friend in front of a warm fireplace.Keep your eyes open for the next two huge seasonal offerings from Stone Brewing Company “ Double Bastard Ale, and on the other side of Christmas, Old Guardian Barleywine.