A leviathan of the craft beer world, Stone Brewing Co. has become known far and wide for its brash attitude, uncompromising quality, and willingness to throw an abundance of hops at damn near anything. With the articulate and audacious Greg Koch at the helm, Stone has grown to include not just a massive production facility that could easily be considered its own village but also a handful of dedicated retail outlets, two farm-to-table brewpubs with their own gardens, a restaurant in the San Diego Airport, a 19-acre organic farm, and they even went so far as to start their own distribution company. Don’t think for a second that the growth stops there. In progress are two new facilities; both are planned to include a production brewhouse conjoined to the obligatory restaurant and garden with one set to be located in Richmond, Va. and the other in Berlin, Germany.
Today’s beer is Stone’s Imperial Mutt Brown Ale. It is part of the Spotlight Series which pits two-person teams from Stone’s brew crew against each other in order to come up with great beer recipes. The winners are given the privilege of having their recipe brewed in the big house and distributed all across California. The creators for this beer are Drew Neldon and Steve Via who stated the grain bill consisted of Vienna, Victory, Chocolate Wheat, and Honey malts with turbinado sugar in conjunction with East Kent goldings and magnum for the hop additions.
Nestled in a snifter, Imperial Mutt Brown Ale exhibits a beige two and a half finger head that sits above a murky dark brown almost black body fit to house the likes of Swamp Thing. The aroma is comprised of caramel, alcohol heat, roasted malts, light roast coffee, and a tiny smidge of vanilla. As the beer warms up some of the English hop character shows up as a spicy and earthy note.
Tasting brings the coffee to the front along with a slight marshmallow like sweetness and a good alcohol hit. On the back end there is a burnt toast astringency that couples with the spicy hop bitterness. In true Stone fashion they did not hold back on the hops, but the astringency really lingers and knocks this one down a few pegs. Mouthfeel-wise, the beer is very effervescent and has a medium-dry finish making it feel completely different from any other big brown ale which trend more on the sweet side.