Tonight, Stone Brewing Company is being unveiled in South Carolina at Barley’s Tap Room in Greenville. Sadly, I won’t be able to go (I miss out on so many good beer events!). I had heard of the legend of this brewery from Escondido, California, which is in between Los Angeles and San Diego. On a recent trip to Virginia to run in the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, I took advantage of my visit and hit Total Wine on my way back home. I was able to snag several beers that I had never been able to try before in South Carolina, including three selections from Stone. Let me say, the legend is justified. This is some good stuff! Here are my brief impressions of the three beers I was able to try.
Stone India Pale Ale
I thought I would start “small,” so the first Stone ale I tried was their regular IPA. This beer is picturesque, golden yellow color with an excellent frothy head. It has a citrus hop aroma that immediately lets you know of good things to come. Upon your first sip, you get an assertive hop flavor that finishes bitter. It has a slight malt twist, but the hops definitely dominates. It’s a full-bodied, creamy ale that leaves very little to be desired for the hop-heads out there. Very solid beer.
Stone Ruination India Pale Ale
The Ruination IPA was thus named because of the “‘ruinous’ effect on your palate.” I love how they describe it as a “liquid poem to the glory of the hop.” They weren’t kidding. It is totally a jacked-up hoppy version of their regular IPA. This beer is not for the faint of heart.
When I poured the beer, I had the glass on the table, a good three feet from my nose, but I immediately caught the hop aroma. It may have the best hop aroma I’ve ever experienced in a beer. Ralph Lauren seriously needs to make a perfume that clones this scent. Have you seen that commercial where the “homely” woman rubs bacon on herself and guys come flocking? Well, this is just like bacon, except it’s hops.
Once I picked myself up off the floor, I was able to see a nice golden straw color with a tint of amber. The flavor was obviously hoppy throughout with a very bitter finish. I even had a little puckered mouth going for a little while after taking each sip. Even with the wonderfully dominant hop flavor, you could still detect a subtle sweetness to balance it out. This is just a beautiful beer for hop lovers.
Stone Arrogant Bastard
I felt Arrogant Bastard was a good fit for me, since that’s what Big Gnome calls me most of the time. But I digress… Like the Ruination IPA, this another big beer from Stone with a lot of hops and a lot of flavor. The difference with the Arrogant Bastard is that it has a very malty character that was absent from their IPAs. It is still very bitter, but its sweetness takes a little of the edge off. It has a beautiful deep red color and an aroma that hints of its complex character. Personally, I prefer the Ruination since I’m not a huge fan of sweeter beers, but I think this beer definitely brings the thunder.
After having my first three Stone beers, I have to say I’m very excited about their arrival here in South Carolina. The Ruination was my favorite of the ones I tried, but they were all well done. I’m looking forward to trying more from their arsenal. Stone has definitely lived up to the hype.
I’m jealous! I want Stone to come to Minnesota. I have some everytime in Arizona, and love Arrogant Bastard. I also love their Smoked Porter and Levitation Red Ale. They make complex, tasty beer full of hops, but not overloaded with them. Enjoy!
My favorite so far has been the Ruination. I saw their Pale Ale in the store this weekend but didn’t get any. Those are the only four I’ve seen here so far. I hope a few more make their way into the stores and bars. I agree, good stuff.