Brews News: Stone Brewing event, beer do-gooders and local medal winner

Stone CEO to visit Beer City

Stone Brewing Co. has one of those remarkable business success stories. Started by two guys in 1996 just north of San Diego, in its first year of brewing, the craft brewery produced about 2,000 barrels of beer. Compare that with 2010, when Stone brewed 115,000 barrels and was the 14th largest brewery in America. Its memorably named beers (Arrogant Bastard Ale and Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, among others) are now distributed in 36 states and Washington, D.C. The company also plans to build a European brew-house in either Berlin or Bruges.

There’s more, including significant expansion plans (there’s even a Stone hotel in the works), but you get the picture. That’s some significant growth in 15 years. I want to know how Stone did it. Don’t you?

Well, now we can read all about Stone’s meteoric rise in the new book, The Craft of Stone Brewing: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance. Greg Koch, Stone CEO and co-author, will be in Asheville on Friday, Oct. 28 promoting the book and telling stories. And, of course, drinking and sharing Stone Brewing beers.

The night will start at 4 p.m. with a book signing at Bruisin’ Ales beer shop (66 Broadway St. in downtown Asheville). Then Koch will give a talk in the backroom at the Lexington Avenue Brewery. After that, he’ll head over to the downtown locale of The Thirsty Monk to throw down. Because space is limited at Bruisin’ Ales, reservations are suggested. Call 252-8999 to make yours.

I chatted with Koch as he and two of Stone’s brewers drove from the brewery’s headquarters in Escondido, Calif., to an event in Los Angeles.

“I’ve never been to Asheville, though some folks have been clamoring to get me there for a while,” Koch says. “I’m looking forward to enjoying some of your local beers.”

Koch will bring some special Stone brews with him as well, and they’ll be available at Bruisin’ Ales and The Thirsty Monk. The Monk lineup of kegs will include Stone Pale Ale, Stone IPA, Stone Smoked Porter, Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers, Arrogant Bastard Ale, Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale, Levitation Ale, Sublimely Self Righteous Ale, Ruination IPA, Cali Belgique IPA and Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA. Expect bottles of various difficult-to-find Stone brews for sale at both Bruisin’ and the Monk.

“I don’t travel without beer,” Koch says. Lucky for us.

He notes that he particularly likes the telling-stories part of his work. I’ve heard Koch speak, and he’s definitely engaging.

“I hope folks will come out and allow me to share some stories, and I hope that it will spark some inspiration and rejuvenate them, whatever their goals may be,” he says. “I always enjoy talking to people about our mutual passion of craft beer, but I hope to provide some perspectives for any entrepreneur. I like to tell entrepreneurs: Really, do it the way you think you should do it, not the way other people or the public think. Stick to your guns. Stick to your own personality.”

The book also includes home-brew recipes for Stone beers, plus pairing and cellaring guides and the stories behind every beer Stone has created. Also, as the subtitle notes, it’s infused with lots of unabashed arrogance.

Koch says his favorite recipe in the book is the Ruination IPA garlic-and-cheddar soup. After all, what’s not to like about combining great beer with garlic and cheese?

Asked what the spark was for writing the tome, he says, “It was our 15th anniversary, and it seemed like a significant milestone. It felt like it was time to be reflective and put pen to paper. It took a lot of work and energy, but now I’m stoked these stories are out there.” 

Koch wrote the book with Stone co-founder Steve Wagner and Randy Clemens, Stone’s public-relations coordinator.

Local beer do-gooders

You know you want to order Areola Ale, just to say you did (it’s kind of like Arrogant Bastard that way). Plus, if you do so, 50 cents will go to Beauty Through Cancer, a breast cancer awareness program. Created and brewed by Erica Nelson of Highland Brewing, the Areola Ale is a pink wheat beer infused with beet juice and hibiscus for flavor and color. It’s 7 percent alcohol-by-volume and sold by the half-pint. The ale was brewed on Highland’s small pilot system, so it’s only available while it lasts at Highland’s Taproom.

Pisgah Brewing has just released its LEAF Amber Ale (10 percent of the proceeds from sales of the beer go to Lake Eden Arts Festival’s Schools and Streets program). The beer is released to coincide with LEAF, that celebration of music, art and culture held at Lake Eden in Black Mountain twice a year. The next fest takes place this weekend, Oct. 20 through 23. For more information, visit http://www.theLEAF.org. 

LAB wins at GABF

One Asheville brewery returned home from the recent Great American Beer Festival in Denver with a medal. Congrats to master brewer Ben Pierson and Lexington Avenue Brewery for garnering a bronze for brown porter. The porter is currently on tap at the gastropub. Two other North Carolina breweries won medals: Lone Rider Brewing of Raleigh came back with a silver for Dead Eye Jack Porter, and Foothills Brewing of Winston-Salem got silver for Bourbon barrel-aged Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout. Congrats to all!

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