By Derek Warren | For Weekender

Tap This: Stone Brewing Co. is still a bastard

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    When Stone Brewing Co. opened its doors in 1996 the craft beer market was vastly different than it is today. The brewery quickly established itself as not being afraid of bold flavors with their first release of Stone Pale Ale.

    In today’s market this beer seems tame as part of the current hop loving trend; however in 1996 this came across as aggressively bitter. The brewery quickly overcame the challenge of uninitiated palates and soon found a loyal following.

    Stone continued to brew inventive and flavorful beers with the introduction of their Smoked Porter, Stone IPA, and of course, Arrogant Bastard. These beers quickly defined the brewery as being aggressive and unrelenting, a tag which they still proudly hold today.

    While there are most certainly other craft breweries that can proclaim to have or surpass the lifespan of Stone Brewing Co., few can claim they are still pushing the boundary as much as Stone.

    The brewery expanded from its original California location since opening, and is opening up a brewery in Virginia and Berlin, Germany. These plans will bring more incredibly fresh beer to the world.

    Some breweries may rest on their laurels for past achievements, but Stone Brewing Co. is releasing a furry of incredible beers as of late. They have even reconfigured some of their classic beers and have released Stone Pale Ale 2.0 and Ruination 2.0 after ending the run of the original recipes.

    The craft beer market has become quite saturated so you may have missed some of their other releases, but here is a short list of incredible Stone beers you absolutely must try:

    Points Unknown IPA: This is actually a collaboration beer between Stone, Wicked Weed, and Ecliptic Brewing. The beer is a blend of a West Coast hop forward DIPA and a Belgian Tripel aged in oak barrels that originally housed red wine, then tequila. The results are a decadently fruity IPA with the perfect blend of Belgian notes of banana from the yeast with wonderful citrus and tropical fruit notes. One sip and this may become your new favorite beer!

    RuinTen Triple IPA: The brewery releases this hop bomb yearly since 2012 with astounding results. If you have had Ruination but said to yourself, that it is not hoppy enough, first of all congratulations, and second try this beer. The hops are front, center, behind, and all around you on full display in this aggressive DIPA. The 10.8 percent ABV should also give a bit of warning that this is a beer to be feared, respected, and enjoyed.

    Bourbon Barrel-Aged Arrogant Bastard: Arrogant Bastard is a longtime favorite for craft brew lovers and is one that acted for many as the gateway beer into the craft brew world. The brewery released a slew of varieties under the Bastard label such as Lukcy Bastard and Double Bastard, but this year they unveiled the new Bourbon Barrel-Aged Arrogant Bastard. The bourbon notes melt into the incredibly delicious malts while the hops are still on full display. This is a must try for all who love barrel aged beers and is the perfect excuse to go back and visit a classic beer!

    Stone Farking Wheaton W00tSTout (2015): Some simply call this w00tStout 3.0, but the 2015 variation on this world class imperial stout is easily one of the best ever brewed. W00tStout first came about in 2013 as a collaboration between Stone Brewing CEO Greg Koch, founder Drew Curtis, and renowned beer geek Wil Wheaton. The result was an incredibly complex stout with notes of chocolate, coffee, pecans, wheat and bourbon. The brewery followed up with 2014’s w00tStout 2.0, which had a much more limited release and different recipe. This year’s release features the original recipe blended with some w00tStout 2.0 aged in bourbon barrels for a year! It tastes even better than it sounds, if that’s possible!

    Whether Stone Brewing Co. was your gateway craft brewery or you are still making your way through the store shelves hunting the next big thing, they are a brewery that continually release world class beers. Do yourself a favor and try any one of the aforementioned beers and toast to Stone for continuing to brew such delicious beers and helping create the craft beer market we all enjoy.

    Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon every Sunday on 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.

    By Derek Warren | For Weekender

    Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon every Sunday on 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.