This past Sunday was a great opportunity for beer drinkers. For most of America, the day entailed drinking fizzy yellow beer and watching huge men crash into each other. Having little to no interest in football, I decided to make the trip from OC to San Marcos to visit Stone Brewery. Stone celebrated the occasion with a festival of their own: Stone Winter Storm. By bringing out some of the rarest beers in their collection, Stone rewarded their fans who love beer more than football.
One look at this list and I knew skipping nachos, crappy yellow beer, and a bunch of stupid commercials was a good idea.
I joined up with my group after being seated and was immediately greeted by friends with some great beers in hand. Stonewall Ale, a BBA 12th Anniversary, and Stone 13th (a personal favorite) were first up. After a warm welcome, I headed to the bar to get my own.
Stone is almost always crowded and today was no exception - Super Bowl or not. Today, however, the bar area was hiding some of the most sought after beer on the planet, so there were more people buzzing around than usual.
I immediately saw two beers that I had to have. After about 15 minutes in line, I had a 2002 Stone IRS and a BBA 2008 IRS in each hand.
I'm a fan of the Stone IRS series (and have an almost complete vertical built), but these two blew all the others away. The 2002 had so much more complexity and had an almost sour taste on the side, which was just awesome. The BBA 2008 IRS was right there with it. At this point, I thought that would be the best of the day.
I was wrong. The next round for our group included a 2006 Double Bastard aged in brandy barrels and a 2008 Old Guardian aged in red wine barrels. I'm not a fan of OG usually, but the red wine made it slightly sweeter and much more palatable (at least for me).
Around this time, lunch arrived; I went with the beer mac and cheese with sausage. It's an awesome dish on its own, but if you have another person with which to share, I highly suggest ordering the beer cheese soup and mixing the two. It's cheesy, meaty deliciousness. A friend ordered a sausage plate. I didn't sample, but mostly because the plate was clean within minutes. The cuisine at Stone Gardens is pretty awesome across the board and I don't think this meal was any different.
After lunch, we ordered one more round of drinks; 4 more ultra rare beers. One each of Stone Crime, Punishment, Hop Salute and Cherrogant Bastard. The Cherrogant was good, Hop Salute was really good, but Crime, Punishment, then a mixture of the two won the show for me.
Crime and Punishment are two of Stone's Bastard varieties that have peppers from Stone Gardens added. The peppers completely change the taste in a very good way. The spice was outstanding and made a couple of great beers even better.
After so many great beers, I leave you with a used lineup card and a Pugachev's Cobra to go. Until the next festival!
A final note - in addition to the beers above, I also got to sample some 2010 Old Guardian, 9/9/9 Vertical Epic, and Stone 14th. I was a little hard on Stone 14th when it came out because I was not impressed by it. I'm not sure if I got a bad bottle, or time had killed off some of the Belgian yeast flavor that I didn't like; either way, 14th tasted great and I would love to get more.