Stone for Stone Beer Challenge

By now many of you may have heard the latest news to hit the Craft Beer Scene. Yesterday, Greg Koch, co-founder of Stone Brewing out of Escondido, California announced that they are suing MillerCoors over the use of STONE in their re-branding/marketing of their water-beer Keystone Light. Feel free to check out Stone Brewing on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook for all the details.

I personally love this because I feel it is a perfect illustration of the Craft Beer Culture—The defying of odds, standing up against big corporations all for the sake of hard work and the dream. Koch and the folks at Stone have worked incredibly hard to build their brand to where it is today, and they have every right to go after Big Beer on this blatant misrepresentation.

In order to show my support for Stone Brewing, I am announcing the #StoneForStone Beer Challenge. This is a chance for the Craft Beer Community to band together and show their support for one of our beloved and more established Craft Breweries.

To participate in the challenge, simply post a video of you chugging, or simply drinking, a Stone Brewing beer on any social media platform. Use the hashtag #StoneForStone, tag Stone Brewing and at least three friends. Feel free to get creative, and let’s have some fun. Let’s start a movement and show our support for Craft! Cheers!

Stone Brewing Sues Miller Coors

As of late, Miller Coors has changed the branding of their infamous Keystone Light brand of beer. Now this beer is good for little more than watering your yard; however, they have thrown a ton of money and effort in this new ‘STONE’ type of branding. This has caused a bit of an issue.

The problem is that when one hears ‘STONE’ in the brewing world, ONE brewery and one brewery alone comes to mind–Stone Brewing  out of Escondido, California. Rather than take Big Beer’s re-marketing strategy lying down, Stone Brewing and their co-founder Greg Koch  are firing back in a lawsuit against Miller Coors in which they claim that Millers Coors is capitalizing on the name and brand recognition of Stone Brewing to further advance their keySTONE light brand. Their request is simple, “Put the ‘Key’ back in Keystone”.

According to Stone Brewing’s Twitter Account, “Our co-founders Greg & Steve opened Stone Brewing in 1996, determined to make amazing beer and never compromise their integrity. We will not have that legacy taken from us by anyone. That’s why we’re suing one of the biggest beer companies in the world.”

I think they have a case. Check out the story from Greg below.

I absolutely love the Craft Beer Community, and I appreciate how hard the brewers and founders work to achieve and maintain their dreams. In a sense, that is what this is about–standing up to money and big corporations in the name of hard work and the dream. I will drink to that every day. Cheers!

Brewery Visit: Charlotte – Saturday, February 10th

This past Saturday, the family and I hit a couple of our favorite breweries in the Charlotte area. It was a great weekend for craft beer in the area with mobile taprooms, can releases, and many special release brews on tap. Plus, it’s a double win when I can spend time with my family and enjoy a couple of brews along the way! It really doesn’t get much better than that!

We started off at Salud Cerveceria. Salud is a unique brewery in that downstairs is a bottle shop and upstairs is a taproom. I had heard through the Craft Beer Community that Burial Beer Company, out of Asheville, NC, was going to be at Salud with their mobile taproom, doing a special can release of beers that are normally found only in their Asheville taproom. Burial was releasing The Savages of Ruminating Minds IPA; Pinnacle of Dreams Rye Lager, a collaboration with Fonta Flora Brewing; The Persistence of Memories Double IPA; and One for You, a lager brewed with coconut and pineapple in collaboration with Other Half Brewing in New York. My plan was to quickly hop in for a few packs; however, I soon realized that I may have missed out when I saw people walking away from the brewery with stacks of four-pack cans. After asking around a bit, I learned my suspicions were true. Unfortunately, I had arrived too late and missed out on the special release beers, but I did get to check out Salud, and I will definitely return soon for a few of their own beers.

 

Next we hit NoDa Brewing Company in the North Davidson area of Charlotte. NoDa has always been one of my favorite breweries in the Charlotte area as it was one of the places that I really fell in love with Craft Beer. The brewery had their much anticipated can release of Hop Cakes, and Imperial IPA brewed with Vermont Maple Sugar, the day before, so I wanted to stop in for the cans and a couple other brews. My kids love NoDa as well because they offer complimentary juice boxes and also have a Frisbee golf turf area adjacent to the patio. Family friendly FTW!

I’m usually a Flight Guy when I visit breweries; however, today was a pint day. My wife had been wanting to try Captain Peanut Butter’s Chocolate Revenge, a chocolate-peanut butter stout, and I opted for the Trois Pale Ale. Both beers were excellent; however the stout was just INCREDIBLE. We shared the pint and honestly couple have enjoyed a couple of more, even at the ~9% ABV. Captain Peanut Butter’s Chocolate Revenge showcased flavors of chocolate and peanut butter which was somewhat reminiscent of Reese Cups. The chocolate notes were more aligned with dark chocolate, and that paired perfectly with the peanut butter. Black as night with a tan head and not overly sweet, this brew was surprisingly easy drinking. At 9%, one would think this stout would be heavy, but it was actually more on the lighter side I thought. This was one of those brews that you just had to keep taking a drink from. It was so smooth, and each sip really beckoned you to take another.

I had no complaints on the Trois Pale Ale either as it was light and easy-drinking, and it showcased a variety of hop flavors. Captain Peanut Butter’s Chocolate Revenge really stole the show though. After closing out our tab at the brewery with a four pack can of Hop Cakes to go, the kiddos took advantage of a break in the rain and enjoyed some time outside in the Frisbee Golf Area.

 

Our next stop was Sycamore Brewing Company in the South End area of Charlotte. Sycamore is another favorite Charlotte brewery of mine which has been cranking out some incredible brews as of late. Saturday was the first ever, canned release of Juice Willis, a Juicy IPA which showcases Galaxy and Nelson hops. I had this brew a while back at their three year anniversary, and it was excellent. The cans were a given, so the wife and I opted to share a flight as well.

Our flight, from right to left, featured the Tangerine Kolsch, the Rhubarb Gose, Juice Willis IPA, and a Hot Chocolate Crème Stout.  The Kolsch was incredible, and I immediately reached out to the brewer with the feedback as both Mel and I loved it! This brew was everything you could want in a Koslch—light, crisp, and refreshing—with just a subtle hint of tangerine. This was very, very well done. Adding fruit to a beer, in my brewing and tasting experiences, is a double-edged sword—either the flavor greatly compliments the beer or it completely washes it out. This was the former—that tangerine kiss was just enough to add a unique complimenting element to the Kolsch. I really hope that Sycamore keeps this one in production—and even cans it—as I thought it would be a perfect Spring and Summer Beer. I could definitely see myself crushing a few of those on the beach.

The Rhubarb Gose was pretty solid as well. I feel the earthy flavor of the rhubarb complimented the sour notes of the beer. It was incredibly unique, and I am definitely coming to appreciate the sour and gose styles more and more.  I will hold my thoughts on Juice Willis for now as I plan to do a more in depth review later on, but in the meantime I’ll just say that it was excellent. I had no complaints on the hot chocolate crème stout either. Mel thought the flavor was more along the lines of coffee than hot chocolate. I felt the chocolate notes were there; however, they were muted. All in all, great beers and a pack of Juice Willis cans to go closed out our day.

Find Your Craft: Episode 0, NoDa Brewing Company’s Sticky When Wet IPA

So I’ve been doing beer review videos for a year now; however, each of them has been related to a series–31 Days of Pumpkin, Beer Camp, the Guinness Project, the 12 Days of CRAFTmas, etc. I felt it was time to begin to compile, categorize, organize, etc. with a regular video show.

The Find Your Craft show will showcase all future beer reviews. I may do a special series here and there; however, each video will have a Find Your Craft episode number.

In honor of the new show, I decided to kick things off with NoDa Brewing Company’s Sticky When Wet, Wet-Hopped IPA. Now this is a very special IPA as the ‘wet’ hops are added to the brew within a day of hop harvest. As a result, the fresh and intricate flavors from the hops in this brew are phenomenal.

This beer was bursting with peach and grapefruit notes, courtesy of those hops, with a muted malt backbone and a very welcome bitterness. Cheers!

12 Days of CRAFTmas: Day 12, St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

The #12DaysOfCRAFTmas closes with St. Bernardus’ Christmas Ale. This Abbey Ale is a Dark Belgian style beer with notes of caramel, yeast, and dark fruit on the nose. Naturally carbonated, this beer showcased flavors of malty sweetness in the form of raisin bread, caramel, and toffee. The beer also boasted flavors of Belgian Yeast, dark fruit, and possibly candied sugar. This Abbey Ale was smooth and complex, showcasing a variety of aromas and flavors perfect to enjoy with friends during the holidays. Cheers!

12 Days of CRAFTmas: Day 11, Columbus Brewing Citra Noel and Rogue Ales Santa’s Private Reserve

Day 11 of the #12DaysOfCRAFTmas was incredible! First off, I had my lovely wife Mel joining me for the two tastings. Second, these two brews were incredible!

Citra Noel was a surprisingly dark beer (well, darker than we were expecting–it was actually an amber color). It had a nice malt base but also featured a flavorful dose of citra hops. The hoppy bitterness really balanced out the malty sweetness, making this an incredibly balanced beer. Add to that the fact that it smelled and tasted incredibly fresh–just wow!

Santa’s Private Reserve from Rogue Ales was in a league all to its own. This Belgian Dark Ale boasted notes of malty sweetness, Belgian candied sugar, raspberries, and cherries. In addition, the yeast used in this brew added some interesting flavors as well. On the palette, the beer alternated between sour and sweet with no one flavor overpowering another–again an incredibly balanced beer. Cheers to Day 11 and two amazing brews!

12 Days of CRAFTmas: Day 10, NoDa Brewing Hoppy Holidays and Highland Brewing Cold Mountain

Wow! Day 10 of the #12DaysOfCRAFTmas did not disappoint as we had two incredible winter brews!

Hoppy Holidays from NoDa Brewing Company in Charlotte, NC, offers an amazing, hoppy and fresh experience. The beer boasts a subtle white-bread malt tone with an incredible dose of hops which come through in notes of fresh pine needles. The beer is very reminiscent of a Christmas tree.

Highland Brewing Company’s Cold Mountain was another amazing beer, boasting an incredibly balanced profile. Malty notes of toasted bread, caramel, toffee, and dark fruit combine with a notable hoppiness to form an amazing winter ale experience. This beer boasted a variety of balanced flavors which is a true treat for the holidays.

12 Days of CRAFTmas: Day 9, Deschutes Jubelale and Fat Head’s Holly Jolly

The #12DaysOfCRAFTmas continues with Day 9, featuring Jubelale from Deschutes Brewery and Fat Head’s Holly Jolly.

Jubelale was quite a surprise, boasting a dark copper color, a toasted bread and caramel maltiness, and a fresh hoppiness. I was definitely not expecting the pronounced hoppiness; however, I feel it offered a welcome freshness to the beer. Cheers to Deschutes for shattering expectations on this winter ale.

Fat Head’s Holly Jolly was a solid beer as well, boasting caramel malt notes and a heavy dose of spice. If you like spiced brews, this one is for you. Fat Head’s executes the beer well by not overpowering the beer with spice, though keeping it at the focal point of the beer. Cheers!

12 Days of CRAFTmas: Day 8, Bell’s Winter White and Triple C White Blaze

Day 8 of the #12DaysOfCRAFTmas continues with two great, yet very different winter brews!

Bell’s Winter White Ale takes the route of the traditional Belgian Wit. Light, hazy, and refreshing with notes of banana, clove, and a slight citrus freshness, this beer a great option for colder winter days.

Triple C Brewing Company’s White Blaze Winter Ale goes the route of the traditional winter warmer. Dark copper in color, this beer was reminiscent of a snickerdoodle cookie. The beer was not overly sweet though, having pleasant notes of toasted bread/cookie, vanilla, cinnamon, and spice. Cheers!

12 Days of CRAFTmas: Day 7, Flying Dog K-9 and Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas

The #12DaysOfCRAFTmas continues with Day 7, featuring two dog-themed brews from Flying Dog Brewery and Thirsty Dog Brewing Company. K-9 and the 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale both provide unique takes on the Winter Warmer Style.

Dark in color and heavy on the malt, K-9 is hearty and flavorful–a perfect brew after a winter’s day work! The 12 Dogs of Christmas is malty as well, though lighter, with notes of toasted bread and caramel with a notable amount of spices. The 12 Dogs was a spiced ale through and through, but I feel it was fitting for the season. All in all, both of these brews were great, and I greatly appreciate the vision for each. Cheers!