The words on the lower half of this limited-edition bottle from Stone Brewing Co. read "Ruining Palates for Ten Years." And this one is definitely a palate-wrecker.
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Celebrating beer writer Fred Eckhardt's birthday for the seventh year in a row while raising money for charity, the annual FredFest at Hair of the Dog Brewing showcased rare and one-off beers from 22 breweries for its 2012 extravaganza. Read on to discover our choices for the 8 most memorable sips from FredFest 2012.
Barleywines, even in a field of brews with ever-increasing ABVs, are among the biggest of the bunch. They're characterized by their strength, depth, and complexity. Barleywines fall into two categories: English and American. The original English interpretations place a greater emphasis on rich malt and can be darker and fruitier. American barleywines dial up the hop intensity but the best still maintain balance. The significant malt character in a proper American barleywine, often equal to or greater than the hop presence, is what distinguishes it from an imperial IPA.
We are way into this beer. Usually, when we crack a beer in the office, everyone raises one eyebrow and takes a sip or two, but often a half-full bottle languishes on the counter for awhile. This one was gone, and fast.
If you want to try Black Tuesday, Kate the Great, Sexual Chocolate, Dark Lord, Surly Darkness, or a number of other great "cult" imperial stouts, you should probably prepare yourself for the possibility of waiting in line on release day, trolling Internet forums looking for trades, buying lottery tickets in hopes of winning a chance to buy a bottle, or paying incredibly inflated prices on eBay. But rest assured, there are plenty of top-tier imperial stouts available that require a lot less hoop-jumping to snag a bottle.
Beer batter is great for encasing all sorts of fryables in a light, crispy coat that browns up beautifully, but the one thing that beer batter is usually lacking is any sort of beery flavor. This is most likely the case due to the fact that the majority of beer batter recipes don't specify anything more than ounces of beer, with no accounting for style or flavor profile. These Arrogant Bastard Onion Rings solve that problem by being quite specific about the beer involved: big, boozy Arrogant Bastard Ale.
While we're not quite sure who came up with the genius idea of pairing brussels sprouts with bacon, we'd like to thank them for not only creating a cool-weather side dish that is pretty much perfect, but also saving rescuing the sprouts from a life of stigma. Now that we've got the thank yous out of the way, let's talk about how to improve on this already awesome combo. If you ask the guys at Stone Brewing Co., their answer to improving pretty much anything is adding beer, and really, who are we to argue?
One might assume that a meager cup of Ruination would get lost in a sea of garlic and cheddar, but the IPA packs a wallop and cuts right through the rich soup, with bitterness and hops coming through in every spoonful. Just like extreme IPAs can be polarizing, this soup has the same love-it-or-hate-it hoppiness. Certainly not for the faint of palate, this this soup is best saved for diehard IPA lovers.
The San Diego stalwarts have always seemed to be more comfortable leaning on the big, bold, and sometimes brash side of the craft beer spectrum. Their latest creation, Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA, is no exception. If this isn't your last beer of the evening, it'll most certainly be the last one you taste.
The novelty of black IPAs to the beer scene is highlighted by a total lack of agreement about what to call them—you may see them described as Cascadian Dark Ales or American Black Ales, and the American Brewer's Association pithily calls them, American-Style India Black Ales. (ASIBAs? Yeah, that'll stick...) Personally, I hope that Black IPAs are here to stay. We tasted a dozen of them, all solid beers, and very diverse. We've divided them up into two categories—heavier and intense, or lighter and more quaffable.
Every spring Stone Brewing Co. makes a homebrewer's dream come true. The winner of their annual homebrew contest gets the chance to scale up their recipe for the brewery's 120-barrel system and see their beer put on shelves across the country. Jason Fields and Kevin Sheppard took the prize this year with their decadent cherry chocolate stout. To round out the collaborative trio, Stone invited Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's Tröegs Brewing Co. (whose Mad Elf packs in an obscene amount of cherry flavor every holiday season) to join in the brewing process.
The initial aromatic burst of ripe mango aside, this collaboration IPA isn't a typical citrus-and-resin West Coast hop bomb. Instead, there's a pungent layering of spicy and herbal hops. The slightly sweet, vegetal quality of the Sencha tea added during dry-hopping gives complexity and becomes more prominent as the beer warms a bit