For well over a decade now, you've been able to set your calendar by Stone & Wood's Stone Beer, both the brew day on which the fire-heated volcanic rocks are lowered into the beer as part of the brewing process and the festival that heralds its arrival a few weeks later. It's also a beer that comes in two parts these days: the widespread release of each year's Stone Beer and a far more limited release of the portion of previous year's beer that's spent an age in oak before being packaged into vessels with a medieval feel that you have to believe would prove handy companions on the battlefield if you dropped your flail.
Stone Beer 2023 follows a similar path to those trodden in recent years: things are kept simple on the hopping front (earthy English Fuggles) while the fun happens with the malt bill (and the hot rocks, obviously). Creating the colour and much of the character is a blend of pale, chocolate, Voodoo, SM40, amber, CaraRed, regenerative-grown pale malt and macadamia smoked malt. The last of these has quite the impact too as the experience isn't far off campfire-in-a-glass. Smooth of texture, there's dry Americano-meets-Islay peat smoke vibes, a hint of seaweed and some figgy fruitiness heralding an earthy bitter finish.
As for Barrel-Aged Stone Beer, the whisky barrels might have been second use but they've clearly not given up on life just yet. There's not just the impact of oak and oxidation at play here after the 12 months of incarceration. You'll find sweet, spicy, spirituous shenanigans too in a beer that gloops from the neck of its stone container. There's a fortified / heavy sherry nature to proceedings, while any smoke from first time around is subsumed somewhat by the time in oak, which has intensified the dark chocolate fudginess and added a layer of marzipan along the way.
If that's not enough Stone Beer for you, there's actually a third part this year. They've released the first Über Stone Beer too – a 17.3 percent ABV double-aged imperial porter you can read about here.
Published June 29, 2023 2023-06-29 00:00:00