The afternoon of March 16, 2013: the sun was shining, birds were chirping, and literal busloads of Southern California’s most enthusiastic homebrewers were gathing at Stone World Bistro and Gardens. What could cause this collection of curious chemists to congregate? Why, none other than the 2013 Stone American Homebrewer’s Association (AHA) rally and Madness of March* homebrew competition.
For those not in the know, the AHA, founded 1978 by homebrew author and Brewers Association President Charlie Papazian, educates homebrewers, protects, and promotes the hobby of homebrewing. Free to members, AHA Rallies, hosted by Brewers Association members like Stone, are great way to meet other beer enthusiasts and homebrewers in your area–many clubs were in attendance with members from QUAFF, Barley Engineers, Strand, Pacific Gravity, Maltose Falcons, and many more all showing off their brewing spirit.
For the fifth year in a row, Stone has hosted the west coast rally in their beautiful gardens at their main brewery and restaurant in Escondido, CA. While the rally and the gardens are worth visit in their own right, Stone also hosts a competition with one of the greatest prizes in homebrewing: having your beer brewed and released commercially as a special-release by Stone. This year, thirty brewers were invited to submit a keg of their beer to be voted upon by the attendees. You might remember last year’s winner Ken Schmidt’s Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout (he also won in 2009 with his Kona Coffee Macadamia Coconut Porter).
With stakes so high the thirty participants in the competition (listed below) decided to roll out the biggest guns they had; no style was sacred and no beer was too big. There were a number of outrageous IPAs on offer like Mango Habañero, Piña Colada, and Pineapple as well as artfully spiced beers like a chai English Brown and Mayan chocolate and spice Imperial Stout. Personal favorites included a wood-aged imperial bourbon vanilla California Common and a cucumber Saison. After a few hours to mingle and sample the beers, attendees were asked to rank their favorite three beers out of the thirty on a blind ballot. The judging process was by no means rigorous, but after a few hours there was a clear consensus on the top four.
With baited breath the crowd waited while the results were tallied and the final four beers moved to a blind best-in-show judging by Stone’s trained panel of beer judging experts. At long last Mitch Steele, Stone’s head brewer, announced the winner: Ryan Reschan and Robert Masterson’s Coconut IPA secured top spot and the prize of getting brewed by Stone. The beer itself is smooth and crisp, with just enough coconut flavor to back up its tropical hoppiness. It will certainly be an appropriate beer to kick back and enjoy on a sandy beach–Stone should have no problem getting this unique IPA to fly off the shelves!
Here’s what Stone had to stay about it:
The competition was fierce, the beer was absolutely magnificent…this year’s AHA Rally at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens was NUTS! The winner was COCONUTS! Be on the lookout for our next collaboration beer, a Coconut IPA, to debut this summer. Big congrats to homebrewer Ryan Reschan from the Society of Barley Engineers for this inspired concoction.
The rally at Stone wasn’t just a great competition, it was a great day to meet with friends and drink great beer–it was a beautiful day to support homebrewing!
|01 – Big Ice Small Wood Ale Ice Brewed Wood Aged Blended Old Ale||11 – Imperial Burbon Vanilla California Common Wood Aged California Common||21 – Rusty Lager American Lager|
|02 – The Red Baron Red Ale||12 – Hop N Oats Maneater IPA American IPA||22 – Close But No Cigar Cucumber Saison|
|03 – Dangerzone! West Coast Pale Ale||13 – Dr. J’s Rye Tonic Rye Barleywine||23 – Chamotion Witbier Witbier|
|04 – Vanilla Chai Latte Spiced Imperial Milk Stout||14 – Grey’s Kumquat DIPA Imperial IPA||24 – Vanilla Oaked Burbon Ale Specialty Beer|
|05 – Bonne Nuit Saison Saison||15 – Muir’s Golden Trout Ale Herb / Golden Ale||25 – Graham Slam Oatmeal Graham Cracker Stout|
|06 – Bitter Sweet Symphony Double Oat IPL||16 – Mango Habañero IPA IPA w/ Mango & Habañero||26 – Pineapple IPA IPA|
|07 – Touch of Evil Imperial Stout w/ Habañeros||17 – Backyard Citrusweizen Weizen 15A||27 – Black IPA IPA|
|08 – The Rising of the Dog-Star Braggot / IIPA||18 – Fat Crabby Chili Saison / Spice Beer||28 – Coconut IPA IPA|
|09 – Cup of the Old Chai, Sir? Spiced English Brown||19 – Orangutang Citra Hopped Double IPA||29 – 1337 Chirportle Porter|
|10 – Relentless American Pale Ale||20 – Piña Colada IPA Belgian Specialty IPA||30 – Mayan Achocalypse Chocolate / Chili Imperial Stout|
* Certainly legally distinct from March Madness.