2013 Stone AHA Rally

Stone AHA competitors

Madness of March competitors

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.

Posing with Ken Schmidt

Two time winner Ken Schmidt

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).

Brewers of Dangerzone!

Brewers of Dangerzone! West Coast Pale Ale.

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.

Coconut IPA wins it!

Ryan Reschan and Robert Masterson’s Coconut IPA wins!

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!

2013 Stone Madness of March Entries
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.

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About Derek Springer

Derek is a contributor to Bierkast, a homebrewer, and a general beer-enthusiast. Beer snobbery especially bums him out and he thinks there is a time and place for any beer. Otherwise, he enjoys making and drinking uncommon styles and sampling as many beers as possible. Follow him @derekspringer or his homebrewing exploits @FiveBlades.

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