Stone Winter Storm a Huge Hit
As the resident Stone Brewing fan boy (Don from MD coming in at a close second), it seemed like I have been missing out in the last few years of Winter Storm at Stone Brewing Co. This year, I wanted to stop in, even if it was for a short trip. Am I ever glad I did.
When I first entered Stone World Bistro and Gardens, I was blown away with how many people showed up within the first hour of the place being opened. Jonny Fullpint and I found some standing room at the indoor bar. Before we noticed there were different sample sizes, Jon and I went for some vintage Old Guardian and brandy barrel aged Double Bastard in 8 oz servings. I can’t speak for Jon, but 16 oz of strong ale went right to my head.
Once I found the 4 oz tasters, I was back on track. This cool ass OG named Ernie was at the bar, and heard that we brought a special bottle of Dogfish to share. He said he had a special table to share in return. Jon and I wound up at a sweetly located table with the nicest people you would ever want to drink with, including OG Ernie. He left shortly after, and we stayed and had a tasting session with these nice folks for hours.
After about 6 or 7 samplers, everything was a bit cloudy. I know I enjoyed vintage Stone Imperial Stout dating back to 2004, both in bottle and on tap, Stone Wall, which was a special in house creation made in honor of the creation of their new facility. The one beer that blew me away was the Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean on cask. While I love Stone Smoked Porter, it is a beer I pass up in favor of their other beers. The nice folks at our table passed a wine glass full of this stuff, and I nearly levitated (something I wouldn’t do for Levitation Ale). It was a magical whiff of malty smokey goodness with a huge presence of freshly cracked vanilla.
Something I need to work on, is going to events that serve strong ale, and staying chipper and sharp. I am not sure if it is possible, but I would have loved to remembered everyone’s name that I met, and been able to take tasting notes on the dozen or so ales that I tried. It might be unrealistic, or I might need to crank up my second liver. Stone put the icing on the cake by offering a killer lineup for growler fill. I came away with a growler of 2007 vintage Old Guardian Barlywine and Jon came away with a growler of 2008 vintage Imperial Russian Stout. Folks were clamoring because the 10th Anniversary IPA had ran out at the growler station, but with all the other great choices, it is something to quickly forgive.
What most stood out about the day was the great vibes and love in the room. Stone’s Anniversary Celebrations seem best suited for someone who has recently been introduced to great craft brew, Stone Winter Storm is more suited for the advanced beer lover and Stone Brewing Co. advocate. As packed at the ‘Bistro’ was, everyone was sweet as pie, and never hesitated to say hello, and offer a sip of their beer or recommendation of the next sample. If I was Stone Brewing, or Greg Koch, I think I would be overwhelmed with how much love and loyalty their brand and beer receives. Simply amazing.