A Tribute to Stone Brewing

This is a love story about a boy who met a brewery who introduced him to a whole new world. This is a tribute to the Stone Brewery in San Diego, California. Stone embodies the vision of what I see craft beer culture to be. Before Stone, I was wasting money on what Stone’s founder, Greg Koch, likes to call “fizzy yellow beer.” To me, there are two rock stars in craft beer. You have Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, who is your nice guy leader from the East Coast. Then you have Greg Koch of Stone Brewing, who is your arrogant warrior from the West Coast. I grew up learning the way of the warrior.

It all happened a little less than 10 years ago. I was called unworthy because I couldn’t appreciate the flavors of an Arrogant Bastard. To avoid being shamed again, I picked up a six-pack of Stone Pale Ale. Unbelievable! I couldn’t believe beer could taste so good. It only got better as I continued up the ladder with Stone’s Levitation, India Pale Ale, Smoked Porter, Ruination IPA and Arrogant Bastard [again]. This time, I thoroughly enjoyed the Bastard. I read the backs of all the labels to gain a better understanding of the brewery. I’ll never forget the back of the Arrogant Bastard bottle telling me, “This is an aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it.” I thought, “Wow, such honesty, such…arrogance.” These beers were so exceptional that I stopped buying other beers. I visited the brewery for a tour to learn more about the beer and the process. While on the tour, Ken Wright [Stone tour guide & beer aficionado] taught me so much. I learned about the quality ingredients, their commitment to remaining environmentally-conscious, and the multiple charities they supported nationally and within the local San Diego community. I was impressed and most definitely on board to be a Stone follower.

A year after learning about Stone, I attended their 8th Anniversary festival, which hosted other craft breweries that shared their same philosophy. I got to try so many different craft beers and really enjoy the craft beer culture. When Stone decided to expand and build a Bistro & Garden, I jumped on the chance to be involved. I donated money to one of their charities and a submitted a rock from my backyard to be incorporated into their stone walls. That money went to a good cause and my stone now sits right above your head as you go up the steps to the second floor of the bistro. In exchange, I was given a few awesome gifts along with a personalized bottle of Stonewall Ale, which was made only for the donators [I put my name in as Miguel “Arrogance” Torres]. Freaking sweet! Since that day, I have been to a few of the anniversaries, special events, and the bistro a couple of times and even toured the new place with Ken Wright.  Now that I live on the East Coast I miss being able to just get in my car and drive over to the Bistro for a pint and a laugh.

I love that Stone shares the same philosophy as other brewers do when it comes to quality, community, and the environment. But I also love their arrogance. I love that they had an event where you can give them your old fizzy yellow beer-esque shirts in exchange for a Stone shirt that says: “Fizzy Yellow Beer is for Wussies!” I love that they don’t care about the calories in their beer. I love that when I last saw Greg Koch at Churchkey in Washington, DC for the Stone Tap Takeover, he reiterated the passion he has for craft beer and how Stone will never use cheap adjuncts to make flavorless beer like the big guys do. I love that Stone was a big part of the documentary Beer Wars. I love that every time I see a Stone Beer, I will be reminded of where it all began for me, and where the craft beer revolution really gained steam. I’m reminded that being arrogant about craft beer in the face of macro-breweries is not only okay, it is encouraged. I love the fact that the Stone Brewing Company is where I learned to start “Living the Craft Beer Lifestyle.”

miguel

Miguel Torres: I'm a craft beer fanatic, a homebrewer and President of California Castaway. I love the relaxed, fun-loving craft beer lifestyle and will rave about it to anyone who's willing to listen.

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