Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fall of Beer, and College Football

The start of College Football season this week marks my favorite time of the year. The next few months will be filled with Saturdays doing nothing but watching football (and drinking good beer) and going to USC games (and drinking good beer). We've started taking our USC tailgating to whole new levels with the addition of good beer. The last couple years I've been making sure I have growlers of Ruination filled for the big games. This year I hope to supply growlers of Stone for each tailgate. So over the next few months you can see how we combine great beer with the great sport of college football.

Today our #3 USC Trojans play at Virginia. For away games (that we don't travel to) my sister and I call our friend and fellow USC alum who now resides in Maryland and goes by the name of Brian, aka The Baltimore Beer Guy, for a pregame toast. Last year before the first away game against Nebraska it was a Stone 11th Anniversary. Today we're staying along those same lines and having a nice Stone 08.08.08 to crack open.

This 2008's Vertical Epic beer is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale with a twist... a Stone twist. That of course means a hoppy BSPA. Well I must say they nailed this. It's sad that on Beer Advocate all of Stone's Vertical Epic series beers get ranked almost exactly at 4.0, which means it's a darn good beer, but nothing great. Well this beer has that exact score right now, but it is a GREAT beer. It has all the Belgian Strong Pale Ale aspects, light, fruity, earthy Belgian yeast character, but with a nice hoppiness to finish it off. And the hoppiness isn't abbrassive or very bitter, it just adds a really nice flavor to the finish. I liked it, my sister liked it, and my Mom and Dad liked it. I think Stone nailed this one, and I plan on picking up a few more bottles to enjoy soon. 4.7/5.

Just to note, our friend Brian decided to go with a local brewery for his pregame toast, Flying Dog Double Dog Pale Ale.

As kickoff approached my Uncle arrived with a cooler of a beer I hadn't heard of called Landshark Lager. It looks like Corona, I figured it tasted like Corona, and when he asked me if I wanted one I was more inclined to go open up the Live Oak Hefe growler I had in the fridge. But figuring that refusing a beer that someone has gone to the effort to bring and offer you I skipped the douchebaggery (tip of the hat to The Beer Retard) of declining and went ahead and grabbed a bottle. After cutting a fresh lime wedge, shoving it down the neck of the beer, and then doing the bottle invert thing with the thumb over the hole I was all ready to attack this Landshark. Well I'm really glad I did because it was tasty and refreshing. Sure I don't drink this type of beer all that often (maybe a couple times a year), but it sure hit the spot and I probably downed this bottle in less than 5 minutes. In comparing it to Corona it was light years ahead. It had a nice light, soft, sweet malt taste and no disgusting flavors like Corona. I would drink Landshark again. 3.9/5

As the first quarter unwound it was time to get to the growler of Live Oak Hefeweizen that arrived on my porch Friday night. This hefe is ranked as the #25 beer in the world on Beer Advocate, amongst all those Double IPA's, Imperial Stouts, and high alcohol Belgian dark ales. When you think about it that's pretty amazing, and thus the reason why I even went to the trouble of obtaining a hefeweizen growler from Texas. It was a solid beer that I thoroughly enjoyed but I don't really understand why it's ranked that high. I've actually had better hefe's, but like I said this was still good. If I lived in the Austin, TX area (God help me) I would seek this out all the time. But it's really only worth a one time acquisition (if that) when you live in CA. 4.1/5

The last beer of the game came while still in the first half. I went with a Kernville Sequoia Red that my friend Rene had brought back from his rafting trip there. It was an ok beer, I probably wouldn't buy it even if regularly available. It was pretty highly flavored of toasted malt and very nutty. Very nutty. Not my favorite flavor combination to be honest.

I had to sober up during the 2nd half so I could head down to Stone after the game for some growler fills. We arrived down to there around 6:30 and enjoyed a few beers. Three of us tried the Alesmith/Mikkeller/Stone Collaboration Tripel, which was not bad. It was kinda saison-like within the tripel style. Pretty earthy, sweaty (funky), that sort of thing. That was the only beer I had because it's not worth it to take chances on the road. When 8pm hit I went to the Stone Company Store to get a growler fill of the '05 Imperial Russian Stout which I have to send to the person in Texas who sent me the Live Oak Hefe. I also got a couple Ruination growlers for our USC/Ohio State tailgate in 2 weeks. Yes growlers last that long, easily. Just keep 'em cold, air tight, and they will be good as new.

And if you're asking yourself, "Does Stone really serve Tripels in a shaker-shaped glass?" Yes, they do. See, Stone divides their beers on the menu into two different categories- high and low alcohol. Lower alcohol beers get a nice chalice glass (see the shape of these Allagash glasses) that I think are good for most styles of beer. The higher alcohol beers get this tiny 8oz shaker glass. That means tripels, imperial stouts, double IPA's, barleywines, etc will all be served in this glass. I don't know about you but that doesn't seem proper to enjoy a nice serving of many of these beers. They use to serve these higher alcohol beers in a really nice 8oz snifter (see here), which suited those higher alcohol beers much more. I love pretty much everything Stone does, but for a place like the Stone World Bistro & Gardens to serve these type of beers in this type of glass seems really Bush-League. Maybe they are in the process of upgrading... I don't know. They have been using these glasses for at least 5 months that I know of, and probably longer. Please Stone, get better glassware!

1 comment:

Rational Realist said...

I agree in the 08.08.08. and can't understand why its ratings are so low. This beer is amazing and Stone did nail it this year. Mine are never going to last until 12.12.12. I need to get a case (or two).