Stone: Pale Ale 2.0

From The Brewery: Stone Pale Ale 2.0

“This decidedly American West Coast pale ale represents the next chapter in our brewing story. Showcasing the full essence of vivid Mandarina Bavaria hops plucked from the storied fields of Germany, it presents bright flavors of peach and orange against a crisp, spicy, biscuity backdrop. We’re glad you’re with us on this journey!” 6.0% ABV American Pale Ale

The Pour: 

Pouring from a 12 oz bottle into my Tioga-Sequoia tulip pint glass. The body is slightly hazy, and copper-ish orange in color. A foamy off-white head is poured, which has very good retention and leaves plenty of lacing on the glass throughout. There isn’t much in the way of any visible carbonation.

The Nose:

Moderate Mandarina Bavaria aromas of orange zest and spicy/floral hop character blend with malt aromas of toasted grain and a hint of caramel/honey sweetness. The hop and malt aromas are properly balanced per the style.

The Mouth:

There is more substance to the body/mouthfeel than I expected – I expected it to be thin, and is just north of medium bodied. It finishes with a decent amount of carbonation and bitterness. The flavors follow the aromas: orange and earthy/floral hops, slightly sweet toasted grain maltiness. The hop flavors linger on the palate after finishing.

Final Thoughts:

I never got around to reviewing the original Stone Pale Ale before it was discontinued, so I don’t have that to compare it to. However, it’s simple to deduce that this went through a bit more of a revamp that Ruination 2.0, as the Mandarina Barvaria hops used in Pale Ale 2.0 are relatively new, being introduced in 2012.  Pale Ale 2.0 is a decent offering, a little more hop forward than the gold standard Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but does retain its overall balance. It isn’t an exciting beer by any means, but a perfectly good mixed 12-pack filler. 7/10

Stone Brewing Co. – Escondido, California




Posted in Beer Reviews, Light/Pale Ales | 1 Comment

Homebrewing: ESB (Extra Special Bitter)

I’ve been growing a quiet little fascination with traditional English beers as of late, and have tried making a handful of different English styles (Southern English Brown, Sweet Stout, Oatmeal Stout). I’ve never made an ESB before, and the homebrew club I’m in has a Special Bitter 11C competition coming up next year (as part of a 4-part cumulative quarterly competition featuring a different style each comp). That all adds up to designing a recipe and giving it a go!

The Recipe: 5.33 gallons into fermenter, 75 minute boil

  • 11 lbs Maris Otter (English Base Malt)
  • 1 lb Crystal 60L
  • .25 lb Special B (I know, not English, but think it will work well for the style)
  • .75 oz Nugget (15.8%) first wort hop
  • 1 Whirlfloc tab – boil 15 min
  • .5 teaspoon White Labs Yeast Nutrient – boil 15 min
  • 1 oz East Kent Golding – boil 5 min
  • 1 oz East Kent Golding – flameout
  • White Labs WLP002 English Ale Yeast – 1 liter starter from new PurePitch package
  • Original Gravity: 1.061
  • Estimated IBUs: 45.3
  • Color: 12.9 SRM
  • Estimated ABV: 5.4% (assuming a Final Gravity of 1.020 – I think I’ll get a little more out of my starter of WLP002 – updates to follow)
  • Efficiency: 71% – usually assume 65%, but got a little better than normal this batch

The Process:

I went to my local homebrew supply store a few days before brew day, wanting to make a yeast starter with WLP002. I made a 1 liter starter with 4 ounces of dry malt extract, boiled for 10 minutes on my gas range right in the Erlenmeyer flask, and chilled in an ice bath in the sink. When it reach about 72°, I pitched the pack of yeast and set it up on my Stir Starter stir plate.

I began my brew day like usual, collecting 10 gallons of reverse osmosis filled water from a local refill station. As I heat my strike water, I mill my grain and measure out my water treatments.

I mash in, aiming for 154°, but let my strike water get a touch too hot, and settle for 156° after about 10 minutes of whipping the crap out of the mash with my maple mash paddle. I use my BrewBag mash tun filter as I always do.

After a 60 minute mash, I add the .75 oz Nugget hops to the kettle and collect the first runnings. I then add my sparge water, doing a single batch sparge. I then drain until I reach my approximate pre-boil volume. I really need to get a kettle with some etched volume markings to make my brew days more consistent and accurate. I was originally aiming for about 7.5 gallons pre-boil, but got closer to 8 gallons, and adjusted my boil time from 60 minutes to 75 minutes to accommodate that.

After the boil and coinciding boil additions, I chill my wort using my Hydra wort chiller, transfer to my fermenter, add 60 seconds of pure oxygen, and pitch my entire 1 liter starter. I then set up my BrewJacket Immersion temperature control system and start to clean.

For whatever reason, after mashing in I completely forgot to keep taking pictures of my process, and my fermenter is currently wrapped up in its BrewJacket insulation, so I’ll add some more photos when I keg or when it’s on tap in my kegerator. Updates to follow!

Posted in Homebrewing | Leave a comment

Brown Ale Pulled Pork Quick Chili

With the weather finally turning cold here in California, an easy and hearty chili recipe using leftovers and homebrew! This is a cheater recipe that uses almost pre-made or canned ingredients, but it comes out quite good.


  • ~1 lb leftover pulled pork from a previous smoker session
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • ~1 clove of jarred minced garlic
  • 2 cans pinto beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Homebrewed Southern English Brown Ale
  • Butter/Olive oil


  • Dice whole large yellow onion, and saute on low heat with butter/olive oil, a pinch of salt, and minced garlic
  • After the onions are soft, add ~ 1 lb of leftover frozen (and defrosted) smoked pulled pork
  • Begin to add seasonings. As you can see from the pics, there is no exact amount. We just eyeballed the measurements, so start off a little light and add a little extra of whatever you think makes it taste good
  • After the seasonings are mixed in well, add ~20 oz for brown ale (we’ve used homebrew stouts and porters with great success as well), and ~20 oz of water
  • Add the canned beans and let it come to a simmer and let it ride as long as you can stand – for us it was about an hour
  • Garnish with whatever you please – we used cheese and sour cream, and would have used some green onion or chives if we had them on hand

Final Thoughts: IMG_4355

While this recipe is a tad better is done in a more traditional all-day crock pot manner, the quick version also comes out pretty damn good. We usually just use ground beef, but had some leftover pulled pork taking up some space in the freezer and put it to use. The sweet, bready maltiness from the brown ale mixes nicely with the heat notes from the chili powder and red pepper. Beer chili is definitely the way to go!


Posted in cooking, Entrées | Leave a comment

Stone: Coffee Milk Stout

From the Brewery:IMAG0619

“From imperial stouts to IPAs, we’ve discovered the tantalizingly roasty lift that comes from adding coffee beans to just about any kind of beer. This English-style milk stout, originally a limited-edition offering at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, proved the perfect foil for beans from San Diego-based Ryan Bros Coffee. The bitterness of the coffee is balanced out brilliantly by the milk sugar we used to add a touch of sweetness and creaminess to the stout’s smooth, easy-drinking texture. Cheers to the coalescence of two highly artisanal (and delectable) mediums.”

5.0% ABV Milk Stout

The Pour:

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my Libbey Stout glass. The body is solid black. A foamy, dark-brown head thins quickly to a light covering that leaves minimal lacing. Normally on smaller-ish stouts, some ruby-red highlights can be seen around the edges, but not so in this one.

The Nose:

At the forefront of the aroma is coffee, as expected. The coffee has two facets – both cold pressed aromatic smoothness, and a bit of a more harsh ashy, smokey, spent coffee ground nature. There are undertones of milk chocolate and toasted grain.

The Mouth:

Medium-thin bodied, goes down with a fair amount of roasted coffee bitterness. The flavors of coffee, milk chocolate and toasted grain are accompanied by a creamy sweetness the lactose adds to the mouthfeel. The finish is artfully balanced between the roasty coffee and creamy sweetness. It is a very drinkable stout.

Final Thoughts:

I first had Stone’s Coffee Milk Stout during last year’s initial bottle release, during what you could call my beer reviewing sabbatical. I liked it plenty when it came out, but this year’s version I’m pretty close to loving. Bumping up the ABV from 4.2% to 5% has given it some more body and balance, while retaining its sessionable mouthfeel and great combination of flavors. I love coffee, and I love cream stouts, so this beer is a no-brainer win for me. I only wish this were a year-round offering. Well done again, Stone Brewing! 9/10

Stone Brewing Co. – Escondido, California

Posted in Beer Reviews, Stouts/Porters | 1 Comment

Stone: Ruination 2.0

From the Brewery: aviary_1448197465183

“Stone Ruination IPA was the first full-time brewed and bottled West Coast double IPA on the planet. As craft beer has evolved over the years, so too have techniques for maximizing hop flavors and aromas. For the second incarnation of our groundbreaking India pale ale, we employed dry hopping and hop bursting to squeeze every last drop of piney, citrusy, tropical essence from the hops that give this beer its incredible character. We’ve also updated the name to Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0 to reflect the imperial-level intensity that’s evident in every sip. Join us in cheering this, the second stanza in our ‘Liquid Poem to the Glory of the Hop.'”

8.5% ABV Double IPA

The Pour:

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a can glass. The body is hazy-orange with moderate visible carbonation. The off-white, frothy head has good retention and leaves a fair amount of lacing on the glass.

The Nose:

A melange of hop aromas emanate from the glass: lemon, pine/dankness, tropical fruit, floral earthiness. The malts present themselves in a bit of a candy caramel scent. While hop-forward, the malt base balances things out well.

The Mouth:

Medium-bodied mouthfeel, finishing dry with a lingering hop bite. It seems smoother than I remember the original being. The flavors match the nose pretty spot on: lemon citrus, pine, floral notes, with a touch of apricot sneaking in as well. The sweet, caramel malt character goes quite well with the complex hop profile.

Final Thoughts:

Ruination 2.0 is a smoother, more complex and refined version of the original. Looking back at that review from over two years ago, a lot of the remarks I notated are similar to what I jotted down while drinking this one. That was a bit of a surprise, because my perception was that they were pretty different. I would say the main difference would be the smoothness of 2.0, while the original’s notes were more staccato and harsh. Others I’ve talked to about this beer are ~ 50/50 on Original vs 2.0, but I think I like 2.0 just a touch better. I gave the original an 8.5/10, and I don’t think this is quite a 9, so I’ll give it an 8.75/10.

Stone Brewing Co. – Escondido, California




Posted in Beer Reviews, IPA | 1 Comment

Homebrewing: Southern English Brown Ale

I guess you could call this my house brown ale, since I’ve brewed it a few times and it’s one of my wife’s favorites. I set out to find a nice, malty, sessionable ale with a quick fermentation turnaround when I needed a keg of something to take up a tap on my kegerator. I perused some online homebrew forums and the BeerSmith archives, and threw together a simple recipe for a Southern English Brown Ale.

The Recipe: 5.5 gallons into the fermenter, 75 minute boil (Normally 60 minutes, but I over-sparged a bit and extended the boil, was aiming for about 5.25-5.33 gallons). I got 72% efficiency on this batch with a simple single batch sparge.

  • 6 lbs Maris Otter
  • 1.5 lbs Crystal 60
  • 8 oz Aromatic Malt (20 SRM)
  • 8 oz Special B
  • 4 oz Chocolate (350 SRM)
  • 1 oz East Kent Goldings (5.5%)
  • Fermetis S-04 or WLP002

60 minute mash at 154°

Fermented at 62° (S-04) or 68° (WLP002)

OG: 1.042

FG: 1.013

ABV: 3.8%

IBUs: 19.5

This current batch is made with the S-04, and I don’t like it nearly as much as I did with the WLP002, so if you decide to make it definitely go with that. In fact, I’ve made 3 beers with S-04 out of convenience, and I’m pretty much at the point where I’ll never make anything out of it again.


Review: IMAG0614

Nice ruby-red/brown body that is crystal clear after about a month in the keg. Off-white creamy head with great retention and lacing. Aromas of bready grains, tobacco, dark fruit, and chocolate. Flavors follow suit, but in the S-04 version much more fruity yeast characteristics show up and don’t mix particularly well with the base flavors. The WLP002 showed more malt characteristics, with the touch of dark fruit/pipe tobacco/chocolate making one of the better flavor profiles I’ve brewed to date.

This is an incredibly easy, cheap beer to make. With the right yeast, it is delicious. I will make it again, and use WLP002 from here on out.

S-04 version: 6/10

WLP002 version: 9/10

Posted in Beer Reviews, Dark/Brown Ales, Homebrewing, Recipes | 1 Comment

Evil Twin: I Love You With My Stout

From the Brewery: IMG_4315IMG_4316

“When I copied the famous Even More Jesus, I had to ask myself as an artist, why am I doing this? I didn’t honestly know. It was just an instinct about beer as pure form… in a sense this stout is like a metaphor for freedom – the sum of all the beauty that surrounds me and my perfect contemporary existence.”
– Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, Brewer and founder of Evil Twin Brewing

12% ABV Imperial Stout

The Pour:

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. It has the prototypical Imperial Stout look: opaque jet black body, thin brown head with minimal retention, and little visible carbonation. Little lacing is left on the glass, and the alcohol legs are obvious when swirling it in the snifter.

The Nose:

Aromas of black licorice, bitter dark chocolate, caramel, dark fruit, toasted coconut, and a kick of alcohol are present. The aromas are bold and meld nicely.

The Mouth:

I Love You With My Stout has a thick, syrupy body that finishes incredibly sweet with loads of residual sugars. It seems the very high gravity finish helps conceal the 12% ABV, as it’s not nearly as present in the mouthfeel as it is in the aromas. Flavors of  slightly scorched/cooked sugars, caramel, black licorice, bitter chocolate, and roasted malts.

Final Thoughts:

The biggest impression this beer leaves is how immensely sweet it it. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out if it finished with a final gravity north of 1.040. It is almost too sugary for my taste, but I find it quite enjoyable regardless. It is quite well put together. Overall, a quite enjoyable Imperial Stout that is definitely a sipper. I even would have preferred to split this 12 oz bottle with another due to its sweet, syrupy nature. 8.25/10

Eval Twin Brewing – Brooklyn, New York 

Contract brewed by Two Roads Brewing Co. – Stratford, Connecticut


Posted in Beer Reviews, Stouts/Porters | 1 Comment