Stone Brewing Co. co-founders Greg Koch and Steve Wagner have made a career of their "unabashedly arrogant" beers. In this book, written with the esteemed Randy Clemens, we see how they did it.
It's part history lesson, part beer guide, and part cookbook (with recipes of both the edible and the liquid variety). The title pretty much says it all: The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance.
The Craft of Stone Brewing Co. starts at the beginning. No, not with the origins of the brewery, but with beer. If your understanding of ales vs. lagers is a little rusty, no problem. We're given a quick tour through the basic elements of beer, malt, hops, water, and yeast, and how they come together to make the delicious beverage we know and love.
Once that's established, then we get to the history lesson. Which is way more fascinating than your average history lesson. Did you know that their signature Arrogant Bastard Ale was a mistake? Or that there was a brief period when the brewery was illegally squatting on its own property before all the official papers of occupancy went through? This is my favorite kind of late-night reading material.
But my favorite section of the whole book has got to be survey of Stone Brewing Co. beers. This is all the beers that the brewery has ever brewed (say that five times fast!), laid out side by side. It's incredible to hear how each one came to be and to see how the brewery evolved over the years. There are some old friends here, like the Ruination IPA, and some that I really wish I'd been able to try, like the 7th Anniversary "Super Special Pale Ale."
There is one way that I might be able to try these beers without time travel, however. The authors have very kindly included the recipes for brewing many of their signature beers in the book. If you're a homebrewer, this is like getting all your Christmas presents and birthday presents at once. I can't wait to brew up a batch of Levitation Ale and then have a go that 7th Anniversary Ale!
If you're more in the mood for edible nourishment, check out the section of recipes from The Stone Brewing Co. World Bistro and Gardens. A great many of these recipes include beer as an ingredient, like their BBQ Duck Tacos and the Garlic, Cheddar, and Stone Ruiniation IPA Soup below. Others like the Barley Cracker Bread are simply good noshing food when enjoying a pint of beer.
From the peek behind the scenes at Stone Brewing Co. to the beer-centric bistro recipes to the advice from the brewers on how to make their beers, this book is a treasure trove for beer lovers. I, for one, can't wait to get in the kitchen and get brewing!
• Buy the Book! The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner with Randy Clemens, $15 on Amazon
Garlic, Cheddar, and Stone Ruination IPA Soup
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 large yellow onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup (8 fluid ounces) Stone Ruination IPA
1 cup whole milk
3 heads roasted garlic
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/4 pounds sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated
Freshly ground white pepper
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish
Melt 3/4 cup of the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, whisking briskly to avoid lumps. Cook, stirring frequently, until the flour takes on a light blond color, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion and minced garlic and cook just until the garlic is aromatic, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the vegetable stock, IPA, and milk. When the liquid begins to simmer, stir in the garlic, paprika, and cumin. Using a handheld immersion blender or in a regular blender, puree until smooth. Whisk in the flour mixture. Add the cheese a handful at a time, whisking after each addition, until melted and smooth.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, garnishing each serving with some of the chives.
(Reprinted with permission from The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance. Copyright © 2011 by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner with Randy Clemens. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. Photo credit: John Schulz Photography)