This year marks Stone Brewing’s 20th year of brewing bold, flavorful and memorable craft beers, and with this monumental occasion comes a tribute to fans for their two decades of steadfast support.
The Stone 20th Anniversary Encore Series will reintroduce previously brewed fan-favorite beers, each for a limited time, throughout the anniversary year. The first in the celebratory series for 2016 is Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (9.2 percent ABV), making its comeback in 22-ounce bottles and on draft.
Originally released in 2008, this was my first Stone Anniversary Ale, and one of my favorites. This brewery is well known and loved for their highly hopped ales. But in 2008 they, along with all other breweries, were faced with a hop shortage. Only once before had they strayed from big hopped anniversary beers — the Stone Eighth Anniversary Ale — and that time it was by choice.
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The brewing team embraced the worldwide hop shortage and brewed something rich and malty. They traded in the bitterness of hops for the bitterness of unsweetened chocolate provided by their favorite local artisanal chocolate guys at Chuao Chocolatier. At the time, it was a rare venture into a realm explored less often by Stone, and the outcome was highly acclaimed by fans (myself included). Eight years later, Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout has been rebrewed to the exact specifications of the original recipe and features artwork evocative of the first time it hit store shelves.
“Tasting Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout fresh again after eight years is a real treat,” said Stone CEO and co-founder Greg Koch. “This beer became an instant classic that shares space on the top shelf of our liquid trophy case and we owe it to the fans who clamored for more to bring it back alongside a handful of other favorites this year.”
I originally was able to purchase a couple of these bottles locally. Then, a few years later, I was very happy to find that a friend of mine had purchased quite a few bottles and was willing to share a couple. I finished my last bottle a couple of years ago, and here are some thoughts from my tasting notes:
- Pours pitch black and leaves a creamy tan head.
- Lots of chocolate with slight notes of coffee and vanilla on the nose.
- “Ohhh myyyy”, (yes that is a direct quote from my tasting notes after the first sip).
- Plenty of bitter chocolate and milk chocolate in the flavor again with some espresso and dark fruit notes.
- Full bodied with a creaminess added from the flaked oats, with a beautiful smooth finish.
The Stone 20th Anniversary Encore Series lineup can be found here. In addition to rereleasing eight fan-favorite beers this year, Stone Brewing will salute its 20 years with commemorative bottle caps and online stories designed to inspire the public to reminisce about their own Stone moments at Stone20th.com. The historical timeline will develop throughout the year, chronicling the company’s two decades, and fans can share their personal Stone memories throughout the year using #Stone20.
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For those of you who missed out the first time, and for those of us who are anxious for another taste of this luscious Stone Anniversary Stout, I know that we are all looking forward to sharing this memory again. This beer, along with three others, will be released in Indiana next week:
Stone Americano Stout
The coffee notes in Stone Americano Stout are bold, rich and full of American swagger. For each 120-barrel batch, we incorporated over 250 pounds of artisanal espresso-roast beans into the mash and added in Columbus, Chinook, Amarillo and Cascade hops to invigorate the coffee taste with a slight citrus and resin hop presence. When it came time to selecting our coffee, we chose the same local roasters who contributed to our sought-after 2013 Stone ESPRESSO Imperial Russian Stout. Their fantastic beans helped us achieve this dark, hoppy and wonderfully aromatic espresso stout. 8.7 percent ABV 65 IBUs.
Stone Old Guardian V2016
From time to time, we like to tweak the recipes of some of our most long-standing beers—like Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine—to create unique variations. This year we’re taking it to the next level by dry-hopping it with Pekko hops — a new varietal from Washington’s Yakima Valley — which in turn add notes of stone fruit, orange, lemon and mint to this bready, toffee-like beast of a beer. 11 percent ABV.
Stone Pataskala Red
Pat-ASK-ala? Pata-SKALA? Pa-TASK-a-la? While those in the know favor the third pronunciation, no matter how you say it, this is a unique red IPA. The beer was first brewed in September 2015 to support music and arts education programs in Pataskala, Ohio, where Stone co-founder Greg Koch grew up. People there loved it, so we added the beer to our seasonal lineup. The deep crimson hue is courtesy of a fairly new special German malt variety by BESTMALZ called Red X. Dry-hopped with Mosaic, Cascade and Amarillo hops, this beer is incredibly citrus-forward, rounded out with biscuit and toffee notes. We think you’ll find this red IPA to be quite deliciously satisfying, no matter how you choose to pronounce it. 7.3 percent ABV 75 IBUs.