Stone Collaboration Beers…Nirvana? I’m Thinking Yes!

by David Daugherty on October 25, 2012

I stumbled across my first collaboration beer during Cleveland Beer Week a couple years ago. It’s called Saison Du Buff and still my all time favorite collaboration.  Already a fan of many of their beers, I was impressed to hear that Stone (Escondido, CA) was getting together with breweries all over the country to collaborate on brewing a special beer, in this case, Victory (Downington, PA) and Dogfish Head (Milton, DE) – impressed because I couldn’t imagine any of the Big 3 brewers (Budweiser, Miller and Coors) getting together to do something like this. Such an effort shows the togetherness and respect that exists in the craft beer industry, a willingness to work together without thinking one is better than the other.

You’ve heard the expression, “Too many cooks spoil the broth?”  Not in this case.  Every one of the collaboration beers I’ve tried, so far, has been exceptional. The care they take in brewing these special beers is awesome. The beers I review in this section are limited and, for the most part, brewed only once. Saison du Buff was such a popular brew that it was brewed and re-distributed again this year and it was every bit as good as it was a couple years ago. Recently I had a mini session of these collaboration beers.  I’d been looking forward to this and below are what I enjoyed and what I thought about them.  Oh and a message to Stone:  Continue with the collaborations, please! It’s like Christmas every time I see one on the shelf!

I started off with TBA or Texas Brown Ale.  A collaboration with Stone and Fat Heads Brewery & Saloon in Cleveland, OH, and Bear Republic Brewing Co, Healdsburg, CA.  I poured it into a pint glass and the deep brown color developed a nice creamy white head which stay almost throughout.  The aroma was woody and citrusy, with a sweetness like brown sugar. It tasted much like it smelled, but with more of a bready, malty taste upfront finishing with the balanced hop character of a citrus/fruit flavor that stuck around for a while. Though a healthy 7.1 ABV, I found the alcohol very much a non factor in the mouth.

Next, I opened More Brown Than Black IPA.  A collaboration from The Alchemist, Waterbury, VT/Ninkasi Brewing Co, Eugene, and our friends at Stone Brewing. Brown in color, it was a little hazy with some sediment. No problem there, as I’ve always poured the sediment, yeast, or whatever (the brewers like to call them drinkable vitamins) into the glass. The aroma I got was citrusy and piney and man was it strong. A creamy colored head dissipated quickly, but that aroma stayed throughout. Very hoppy with a citrus flavor like orange upfront, but not sweet.  It had a bitter finish with coffee and chocolate tones.  I love the Citra hops used in the mix here and I think it helped round out all the other ingredients.  With an ABV of 7.4%, I enjoyed this one immensely and could have had a couple more!

Last but not least, I opened La Citrueille Celeste De Citracado, a pumpkin ale.  This was an amazing effort from The Bruery, Orange County, CA/Elysian Brewing Co, Seattle WA, and our incredibly well socialized Stone.  The ingredients used were an extraordinary combination; Brown, Rye, and Honey malts, toasted fenugreek, pumpkin, yams, birch bark, and lemon verbena, w. Warrior and New Zealand Motueka hops.  Poured a cloudy amber color with a lemony aroma, the taste wasn’t as spicy as I expected. Maybe the birch was overpowering the other ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, the spices were present, but I would say well balanced, nothing jumping out for the sake of description. I got a dry, bitter finish, which didn’t hurt this style as I continued to drink it. I let it warm up a bit and swirled it around in the glass and more of the lemon and other flavors, as we would expect, became more intense, but it stayed nicely balanced.  A very good pumpkin style beer and at 5% ABV, this is not a bad one to enjoy a session with in front of the fireplace in the fall.

All in all, this mini session of collaboration beers was great.  I am still looking for the Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout released earlier this month and if I can get my hands on it, I will report back on it. In the meantime, click on the above link and read what our friends at Brewbound had to say about it. Cheers!

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