Tag Archives: Stone

Why I’m Taking a Break from Stone…

I’ve made a decision that was probably a few years in the making. I’m gonna take a break from Stone beers for a while. This came to me after trying their 13th Anniversary ale. It was a boring beer. Did I enjoy it? Of course. I love hoppy beers. My problem is that it tasted just like every other hoppy beer that Stone makes. It was too similar to their IPA, Ruination, Arrogant Bastard, and one of my favorites, Double Bastard. The hop profile is almost exactly the same. Maybe I’m just tired of hoppy beers (not true), but besides from their collaborations and stouts, Stone has not made a beer worth buying, in my opinion.

I like most of the beers that Stone makes. They’re all great beers. Stone, however, has become such an overrated brewery that I don’t feel like supporting them until they can do something on their own that’s different. So I say to you, Greg Koch, cut the hops and branch out a bit. Stone 13th Anniversary is one of the most boring beers I have tried recently.

Now flame away…

Brief Thoughts on Some Beers

Alright, this is going to be quite the post.  I haven’t been writing about every beer I’ve been drinking lately.  In part, it’s because I was sick last week, preventing me from drinking some of the more “special” beers I have here.  It’s also been because I’ve been lazy.  Work has been busier than it had been because of the beginning of the semester and hiring new staff and all that goes along with Septembers for me.  So I’m going to write a few lines about most of the beers I’ve had recently.  This is in no particular order.  I’m just writing.

I’ll start off with tonight because it’s fresh in my mind.  I’m currently drinking an Anchor Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale.  This one was bottled in January.  That means it’s about 10 months old.  This is the reason I clicked the “cellaring” category.  I opened this one because I needed a nice little nightcap.  At 9.4%, it fits that bill just right.  The beer is sweet and malty.  It’s got a seriously strong fruitiness to it, which is really nice.  It’s not like drinking a fruity beer, it’s just a fruity maltiness.  It’s perfect.  It’s got just enough hops in it to give it some balance.  Unfortunately, I have never had this beer fresh.  For whatever reason, I can’t get it in RI.  I picked this up at Julio’s over the summer.  Get it if you see it.  It’s awesome.

I also had Stone Coast (RIP) Jamaica Style Stout tonight.  Susan and I tried to split it, but she wasn’t crazy about it.  I thought it was fantastic.  This one has probably also been aged, though in the store, not my cellar.  Stone Coast Brewing closed on August 1.  I bought this, along with some others, while I could still find it.  It has a very roasty flavor to it.  It’s got a nice medium-full body.  It’s a very drinkable stout.  If you can still find it, get some.  It’s good.

How about some Double IPA’s next?  I’ll continue with Stone Coast.  If you can find some 840 IIPA, get it while it lasts.  This is a great double IPA (their regular IPA is 420 IPA, also excellent).  It’s quite different for a double IPA in that it’s got a strong caramel malt presence.  This doesn’t ruin the beer, however.  It actually enhances it a bit.  It’s not overly hoppy like a west coast IPA, but it’s definitely got a good bit to it.  It is actually not a double of the 420, which tastes almost like a west coast IPA.  They also made a 1260, which I was lucky to be given a bottle.  I’m kind of saving that one.

Rogue Imperial IPA is also a good one if you can get past the cost of the ceramic bottle.  At $15 for the bottle, it’s a bit pricey, and honestly, not worth the price.  However, it’s a great double IPA.  The beer is nice and hoppy, but has a great malt backbone to it.  You might be best trying to find this on tap somewhere (Doherty’s East Ave in the Bucket had it on tap for a while).

The last, but certainly not least, of the recent double IPAs is Smuttynose Big A.  Holy crap!  This is probably the single best double IPA I have had.  I enjoyed this far better than Ruination, Hercules, and even YuleSmith (though I haven’t had the summer YuleSmith, meaning I haven’t had a fresh YuleSmith).  This one has all the hops the west coast DIPAs wish they had, and it came from 2 states north of here.  This one is a must have, though it sells out fast when they do release it.

Being October, I have had a bunch of Oktoberfests, Harvest Ales, and Pumpkin Ales lately.  I’ll mention some of those.  Nikki’s just did 3 weeks of Oktoberfests and Pumpkin Ales.  Here’s the best of those, some of which I bought.  I’ll start with Pumpkin Ales because I tend not to like them.  The only one at the Nikki’s tasting I really liked was Wolaver’s Will Stevens’ Pumpkin Ale, which seems to be sold out now.  It wasn’t overly spiced and had a nice hops flavor to it.  It was just right.  The best Pumpkin Ale I have ever had was Schlafly from St. Louis.  Susan was nice enough to bring back a bunch of beer for me from her trip out there.  Schlafly Pumpkin Ale is the single best Pumpkin Ale I have ever had.  It was all around perfect.

Now, the Oktoberfests… The best is still Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen.  This beer is a perfect German Oktoberfest.  Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr also have great Oktoberfests that are actually German.  I don’t even know how to describe the flavor.  It’s crisp, clean, and flavorful.  Of the Americans, the best I’ve had are Brooklyn Oktoberfest, Clipper City Marz-Hon, and Wachusett Octoberfest.  They’re all similar in style, though the order I listed is the order of my preference.

Of the autumn/harvest ales, my favorite is Gritty’s Halloween Ale.  It’s an ESB and absolutely fantastic (go figure, their Best Bitter is also awesome).  It’s got that perfect flavor for the fall weather.  It just goes with the fall foliage for some reason.  Long Trail Harvest Ale is another good one.  This is a nice brown ale.  It’s easy drinking and has a good flavor to it.  It’s supposedly made from all Vermont ingredients, though I don’t know if they actually got the hops from up there.  Finally, there’s the Woodstock Inn Autumn Brew.  This one is brewed with cinnamon and nutmeg.  I don’t normally like beers with a lot of cinnamon in them (like Harpoon’s Winter Warmer).  However, this one is actually quite tasty for a beer with those spices.  It’s also worth a try.

And now some one off’s.  Continuing with the Schlafly thing, Susan was nice enough to get me 2 bottles of their Dry Hopped American Pale Ale.  This one is fantastic.  The dry hopping gave it a nice floral aroma.  It has a nice floral hop flavor to it as well and then goes into the pine and grapefruit flavors as it warms up a bit.  It’s a fantastic APA.

I decided to open my bottle of Russian River Damnation while watching and helping some friends brew an ESB.  I’m not normally a big Belgian Golden Ale fan.  However, this beer is probably my favorite of the bunch.  It’s absolutely perfect in my opinion.  It has a good amount of carbonation, but not too much.  It has a nice malt flavor with just the right amount of hops.  It’s sweet, dry, and crisp all at once.  I wish I could get their beers on this side of the country.

And finally, last but not least, probably the single most talked about new pale/amber ale on the market.  I got to try the Budweiser American Ale, and I have to say that I’m very impressed.  It’s nothing special, but it’s solid.  It’s a good pale/amber ale.  It has a nice body, which isn’t thin.  It has a good flavor of hops and malt.  And the best part it, it’s very accessible by people new to craft beer, while having a brand that’s familiar to them.  I think this will be the next gateway beer for many people.  I can see myself buying it for friends and family who prefer lighter beers.  I see myself giving it to people new to the craft beer scene.  I see myself drinking it when I want something cheap or if it’s the only thing a bar has (I drink other stuff if they don’t have any craft beer).

Thus concludes my recent beer thoughts.  I’ll try to keep up from now on, though you never know what might happen.  I apologize for the long post, but this had to get written.  I have even more that I didn’t write about.  If I added those, it would be about 3 times as long.

Review: Cafe 412

Last night, after spending a couple hours at Nikki’s for the Thursday night beer tasting, I headed over to Cafe 412 at the suggestion of Mike (the beer guy and owner of Nikki’s).  I had known of the existence of this bar/restaurant, working for Providence College and all.  One of my former student employees, Jenny, had talked about this bar quite a bit as I believe she is friends with the owner.  So we headed over to this little bar on Douglas Ave and walked inside.  It was about 9:00 pm and the bar was completely empty.  It’s a small room with a U shaped bar and a couple of bar-height tables around the edge.  There’s a little nook with an ATM machine (that is “free”, in that they’ll take a dollar off your purchase for using it and paying the dollar fee) and a bathroom in the back corner.  In the middle of the bar are the taps and a row of bottles beneath displaying the beer.  There are 2 chalkboards hanging on the walls on either side of the bar displaying the beer list.  Behind the bar is a big reebar (sp?) rack to hold wine bottles with a neat arch made of tab handles for various beers.

The beer selection last night was pretty impressive, especially considering this is a college bar.  They had the following on draft:

  • Allagash White
  • Stone Ruination
  • St. Bernardus Abt 12
  • Victory Prima Pils
  • Ipswich Ale
  • Rogue Dead Guy Ale
  • Left Hand Milk Stout
  • Flying Dog In Heat Wheat
  • North Coast Red Seal Ale
  • Thirsty Dog Hoppus Maximus

In addition to that, they also had one tap that wasn’t being used.  Their bottle list was a little less impressive, though the standouts were Haverhill Leatherlips IPA and Whittier White, Long Trail Double Bag, Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, Thirsty Dog Siberian Night, and Left Hand Sawtooth Ale.  There were probably about 25-30 bottled beers in total.   The beer was served colder than what would be ideal, but with a little time, it warmed up.  The Abt 12 was served in a St. Bernardus chalice, which was a nice touch.

Our waitress, Audrey, was fantastic.  She didn’t know a whole lot about the beers, but she seemed very willing to learn, and had informed us she was planning a trip to Nikki’s to mix her own 6 pack this weekend.  We also ordered some food.  I had heard their pizzas are really good.  Those who told me weren’t lying.  It’s a grilled flatbread pizza.  I got a margarita (fresh tomato and basil) on their whole wheat crust.  It was awesome, rivaling Bob and Timmy’s (though this was a little different from Bob and Timmy’s grilled pizza).  Everyone else also seemed to enjoy their meals (I don’t remember what people got, other than Susan who got nachos that looked fantastic).  We left around 11:30 and there were still only a few other people in the place.  I’m going to assume that because they actually card, it’s not a big hot spot for the students.

If you’re looking for a great low key bar in Providence that serves great food, Cafe 412 is worth a visit.  The beer selection, while not over-the-top, is great, the food is awesome, and the service is fantastic.  Check it out, have a beer or two, and enjoy their awesome prices (my pint of Ruination was $4 and the Abt 12 was $5).  Chatting with the waitress, it sounded like the owner wasn’t too sure how much longer he’d be able to carry some of the beers because they’re not big sellers and because of their high price.  We actually suggested to her that the owner should raise his prices on some of these beers (Ruination usually goes for $5-6 for a 10-12 oz. pour and Abt 12 is usually around $7-8 for a smaller pour as they filled it above the fill line on the glass).  I’ll definitely be going back, especially if I end up moving back to the neighborhood.

A Bastard and a Stout (with a twist)

I’m writing about 2 beers in this one because I didn’t spend enough time thinking about either one when I drank them. So here goes nothing.

First up is Stone’s Oaked Arrogant Bastard. It’s a strong ale aged with oak chips to give it a nice oak flavor. Unfortunately, I only noticed the oak flavor when I first started. That flavor went away and it started to taste like the regular Bastard (though I wasn’t drinking them side by side, so I can’t be sure). It’s a dark reddish amber color with a nice head. The beer smells of caramel and roasted malts and piney hops. The flavors are very similar to the smell. It’s a powerful beer, but it’s a good one. This is definitely a sipping beer. As it warms, more of the caramel flavor comes out and the hops die down a bit, though they’re still very present. You can’t taste the alcohol, though it’s not terribly high at about 7.2% ABV. After the launch party, I still like the Double Bastard better (though it’s not available in RI yet). It had a better taste and was a bit smoother.

The second beer is Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. This beer is dark and leave a nice dark tan head. The smells are of (surprise surprise) chocolate, roasted malt, and coffee. The flavor is very similar. There are tastes of dark chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, and even some sweeter chocolate flavors. The beer is very smooth and very flavorful. There is very little carbonation, though that’s normal for a beer this thick and opaque. I don’t really have much else to say about this beer. It’s a very good stout. If you like chocolate and you like coffee (mocha perhaps?), you will definitely like this beer. This would also make a great dessert beer.

Stone Tasting at Nikki’s

Since I wrote my nice review of the kickoff “party” at Track 84, I will also give Nikki’s some free advertising. If you missed the even at Track 84, and really want to try Stone beer, I’d strongly recommend attending the tasting Friday night at Nikki’s Liquors in North Providence. He should have all the same beers that were available at Track 84, though his will be bottled beer, as opposed to draft. I’ll be there to taste some of the ones I missed last night and probably buy a few bottles.

The tasting is from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm. There will be special discounts on the featured beers.

Stone Brewing Co. Kickoff Tasting @ Nikki’s Liquors

Stone Kickoff… Great night!

So, as I posted earlier today, Stone kicked off their distribution in RI tonight at Track 84. I went. I drank… a lot. OK, so I only had 4 beers… but they were strong beers. I started with the IPA and moved on to the 11th Anniversary Ale. After that, I had the Double Bastard and then I finished the night off with the Ruination IPA. Now I’m sitting here drinking water… I’m really pretty damn drunk. Stone beer is strong. Anyways, the IPA is a nice easy-drinking IPA. It doesn’t have a strong aftertaste like most IPA’s. It poured crystal clear from the tap and had a nice citrusy hops taste to it, again with little aftertaste. It was excellent. The next beer I had was the 11th Anniversary Ale, which I tasted last Friday at Nikki’s. I should have tried this before the IPA because I think I killed my taste buds. I got all the hops flavor, but little of the roasted flavors that I got on Friday. Then I had the Double Bastard Ale, which was my favorite beer of the night. I don’t recall many of the flavors, but I do know it was really freaking good. Finally, the Ruination Double IPA, which was an excellent balanced Double IPA.

It was a really fun night. Met and hung out with some people I’ve seen and talked with at tastings at Nikki’s. I’m sure I’ll see them at Nikki’s on Friday at the Stone tasting. The only beer I didn’t get that I wanted was the Arrogant Bastard, but I’ll try that on Friday. Susan got the Smoke Porter which was a really good porter.

Well, since I’m pretty drunk and have very little feeling in my body, I’m gonna end this here. Have a good night and maybe I’ll see you at Nikki’s on Friday.

Stone in RI tonight!

Stone Brewing, previously unavailable in all of RI, is having a kickoff party for their new distribution in RI tonight at Track 84 in Warwick. The taps will be all Stone beers (a total of 8 I think). I’ll be there trying some beer from this celebrated brewery. If you recall, I did get to try some of their 11th Anniversary Ale (the dark IPA) on Friday at Nikki’s. This will be one of the beers they’ll have on tap. I’m excited and it should be a fun night. I’ll write more about it and the beers I tried later on tonight or tomorrow morning. If you can’t make it to this event tonight, Nikki’s will be holding their weekly tasting on Friday from 5:00-8:00. This week’s tasting will be Stone.
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Awesome Tasting Tonight!

So… I’m somewhat drunk… and all for “free” (I bought 2 bottles of beer). The Great Divide tasting at Nikki’s was excellent. My favorites… Titan IPA (of course, being my favorite IPA and all), Hercules Double IPA, Fresh Hop Pale Ale, Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, Old Ruffian Barleywine.

In addition to the Great Divide beers, I was sort of initiated into the group of regulars… Stone 11th Anniversary Ale, Stone 10th Anniversary Ale, Wild Dog Oak Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter, and a couple others that I don’t recall (mainly because by the time I had them, my taste buds were shot). The Stone 11th Anniversary Ale was absolutely the best IPA I have ever had. It’s a “dark IPA”, so it was quite different, but it was extremely delicious. And the Oak Aged Gonzo was probably the best Imperial Stout I have ever had (yes, they call it porter, but it’s really a stout). I think I jumped into a new class of beers tonight. I need to start drinking more beer… I need more money though.

If you have any interest in beer and live anywhere near Providence, you need to go to Nikki’s.