I just got back from Stone U – History of Stone that was put on | created| hosted by non other than Stone Brewing Company out of Escondido, CA. This class session was on the history of Stone Brewing, presented by Greg Kock [pronounced Cook]. It was an excellent look back at what made Stone what it is today. Basically it was a photo slide show that reached back to the pre-ground breaking of Stone. Greg did a great job of recalling memories and events of what was happening in each of the images.
Of course image manipulation and presenting was made by non-other than Mike of Mike’s Beer Cheese. He also runs the website for Stone, if you didn’t make that connection. He also kicked in some info on the images that were on the projector.
During all of this, we had to drink beer, of course! Stone did a great job of bringing some historic brews through for tasting. They were in the standard 4oz. glasses that you have at the end of the brewery tour. To start out we had Stone Pale Ale, Sawyer’s Triple, Stone 8th Anniversary, Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale, Stone 07.07.07 Vertical Epic Ale, Jolly Pumpkin/Nogne Ø/Stone Holiday Ale [collaborative between Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, Nogne Ø and Stone Brewery], Stone Imperial Russian Stout  and last but not least Stone Old Guardian .
Some of my notes on the tasting:
Stone 8th Anniversary Ale:
The aroma was pure alcohol. I was thinking that I would not like this one because all I smelled was the ABV! The appearance was a clear amber, little off white head with some lacing. The taste was super roasty, maltiness goodness. The mouth feel was heavenly. It coated your mouth with the flavor of the grains they used. You could almost chew this one, yet it retained a nice dry finish. In the end I liked this one a lot!
Stone 07.07.07 Vertical Epic Ale:
The aromas started you out with a nice citrus blast that hits your nostril. It is a Belgian style with a nice mellow amber/orange appearance. It had a nice white head atop it that dissipated to a thin layer of soft foam. The taste was like a traditional Belgian but with a blast of coriander and citrus peel. Very pleasing on the palate.
Jolly Pumpkin/Nogne Ø/ Stone Holiday Ale
Aroma lets you know it’s a holiday ale by starting off with a spicy, berry flavor. The taste of berries, pines and roasty malts filled your mouth with every swirl. You could really pick out the malts in this one as they stood out from the pine and berry flavors.
Stone Imperial Russian Stout 
Appearance was a super dark, pitch black, nice, thick, brown head on this tiny tasting glass. You could smell the ABV on this with every sip as well as the roastiness of the stout. The roasting really pronounces itself in the taste and is joined by caramel, smokiness and coffee. This one is a real sipper to enjoy. The finish is a combination between roastiness and coffee.
Old Guardian 
We were supposed to have the Stone 12th Anniversary, but they seemed to be out. So in keeping with Stone fashion, they came through with a worthy substitute: 2004 Old Guardian! This was a true treat and a wonderful way to end the evening. It was poured with a nice thick, white head. It was amber with a slight bit of cloudiness. The aromas reminded me of fruits and citrus. The taste was pure bliss with the sweetness of the malts, carbonation was superb, got some hops, some pine, some citrus and some of the alcohol taste. Tasting that will make anyone worth their salt, love barley wines. I’m glad I was fortunate enough to taste such a beautifully aged ale.
Some other notes I had:
-Stone 11th Anniversary is being produced as the new Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale
-The tickets for the Stone U – Belgian Beers is almost sold out with only “a few seats available”. [I already have my ticket!]
-Stone Wall was a heavy 12% that you could only get by donating money and purchasing a stone that went into the stone wall at the Brewery and World Bistro. There are a few stones left if you want to get in on the action. Stone Wall is ONLY being released in this manner with the exception of “maybe” one other occasion.
-Anniversaries 1-5 were all IPAs. Anyone have any of them? They sound pretty bad ass with each year getting more and more hoppier with more and more ABV in the 4th and 5th.
-May 3rd: Another installment of their Beer and Chocolate pairing.
-June [sometime]: Beer and Cheese makes a comeback.
–Heat Seeking Wheat was a gimmicky attempt that didn’t really take off well.
-Distribution was a huge problem in their early days that almost caused them to stop opperation because it was costing so much to distribute their own beer since no one wanted to distribute them!
-Stone was one of the first to use concentrated promotions in select major citues across the US.
Overall I had a great time, enjoyed hearing and seeing the history of Stone Brewing Company and actually shaking the hands one of the founders. How often does that happen?
As always, comment away and let us know if you were there or if you have anything to add to the history of Stone Brewing Company.