Stone Brewing has become a cornerstone of the craft beer industry (and a bit of a lightning rod within it). Over the past 25 years, the brewery has helped put San Diego on the map when it comes to quality and inventive craft brewing. Along the way, they’ve released hundreds of brews — from special one-off collabs to classic reinventions.
Across the decades, it’s the brewery’s pale ales and IPAs that make up the heart of their output. That’s how Stone made its name and they’ve been wise not to stray too far from that sweet spot.
For this week’s blind tasting, I’m going to be trying five beers from Stone — a lager, two IPAs, a Strong Ale, and an American Ale. Through a partnership with BrewDog Berlin, Stone is still brewing their beers in Germany for the European market. That means I can get these at my grocery store — a long-ass way from San Diego.
The point of the blind tasting is to get a feel for the beers in random order. Which ones offer the best flavor and feel right now (during the end of a pandemic, beginning of spring, the collapse of capitalism, etc.)? How do they stack up as representatives of their respective styles? Which ones do I want to finish right away?
All good questions. Let’s dig into the answers!
Part 1: The Blind Taste
Wow. The orange-lime vibe on this beer is really clear. The taste has a nice malty oatiness with a slight tropical fruit counterpoint. Nothing is over-done. The malts, citrus, and fruit are all really subtle.
This is nice but pretty light.
I can see this is a lager from that thin yellow color. The nose and taste is very light lime that builds towards a lime cordial in the bottom of a glass of seltzer water. There’s a touch of malt in the base but, in the end, this feels more like a lime hard seltzer than a lager.
If that’s the point, then they hit it out of the park.
Hello, caramel malts! This is interesting. There’s a bit of dry grapefruit pith next to a slight savory fruit note, similar to papaya, and a touch of pine. There’s plenty to enjoy here but it’s those rich caramel malts that steal the show.
This starts with a slightly lighter caramel malt that’s got this toffee and pine resin vibe underneath. The sip holds onto the dank and sweet caramel while adding in a touch of citrus brightness and maybe a hint of pineapple.
This is really well balanced and I kind of want the rest of the can immediately.
This dark beer is obviously Arrogant Bastard. I can tell from the look and the taste. The sip is full of well-roasted malts with a choco-coffee bitterness next to plenty of piney hop dank and a nice note of earthy … almost…