LA Beer Week officially kicked off today (October 10, 2011) with Stone Brewing Company night at Naja’s Place at Redondo Beach. There are not many breweries in the country that can present such an extraordinary line-up of interesting beers; aged Russian Imperial Stout from seven years back starting at 2003, seven years of anniversary beers, six years of Double Bastard Ale with the oldest one from 2006 and 2 cask ales and many other treats. My plan was to sample some of the aged beer and the two cask ales. I started with the 50/50 blend between Stone IPA and Ruination IPA. This beer have a British real ale light and fruity body with a hoppy finish. The other cask ale was the Stone Smoked Porter with chipotle. Right in the very beginning of the body I could taste the smoked porter but after that it was only chipotle. If you like chipotle this is your beer. What ever you do save it for your last one. I had it as number 2 and it took my taste buds a while to recover.
Many of Stone Brewery beers are great for aging and the beers presented at the event verified that. I compared two Double Arrogant Bastard, the 2010 and 2006. As expected with aged beers the 2006 had a rounder and complex body and no real edges. The sweetness had blended with the other flavors and had become less distinct. The Russian Imperial Stout 2009 compared with the 2003 have developed the same way. The coffee in the 2003 is cleaner without taking over. The 2003 still have that complexity and roundness that you can expect from an aged beer. Both the beers will most likely improve with another few years in the deep dungeons at Stone.
The biggest surprise for the afternoon was the Siasion du BUFF. This is a collaboration beer between Stone, Dogfish Head and Victory. I have never sampled the beer before and I was quite surprised by the change in flavor compared with the other beers I had. The Siasion du BUFF is a complex beer with a spicy aroma, fresh and piney body with some grass and a long and bitter finish.
The authors of The Craft of Stone Brewing Company Greg Koch (@stonegreg), Steve Wagner and Randy Clemens was at Naja’s for a book signing. During the Q&A after the book signing Greg Koch told the audience that they are in the process of opening a location in the LA area. When and where is still to be determined. I asked Greg about the availability of Stone beers in Europe and he told me that UK is their biggest export country and he sees Scandinavia and Sweden as a developing market. He also told me that they as the first craft brewery in US are looking at starting production in Europe. This will hopefully happen already during 2012.