Stone Brewing, Mikhail’s Odd, Bourbon Barrel Aged IRS with Ryan Bros Espresso, Giving BA Speedway a Run for its Beans

Well it took years and years and years, but we finally have a legit Stone Barrel Aged IRS in a bottle: and both variants are fucking amazing. The abv is boosted, the mouthfeel is silkier, and they took all ratchet elements and made them more ratcheterer. Now I know you are reticent to believe old DDB after Friday’s palate bashing, but trust me on this one: California Coffee Stouts, this beer is ridiculous. I crossed my fingers, popped the most annoying cork in the world and prayed for no infection like those Planned Parenthood waiting room feels.

The Classic Fyodor tastes like a more aggressive version of my 2008 BA Stone IRS Review, which is to say it is fucking phenomenal.

Enough pandering, let’s get up in these guts and grind some of them beans.

Not only is this not infected, it is outrageously good in the platonic sense, good to the point of outrage at its existence. Them Forms.

Not only is this not infected, it is outrageously good in the platonic sense, good to the point of outrage at its existence. Them Forms.

Stone Brewing Company, Escondido
13.9% Abv (!)
38 ibus warrior hops in the boil, in the mash roasted barley and pale, amber and black malts, Ryan Bros coffee in the whirlpool

A: Just look at that bad bitch, this beer can pull a kickdoe and take the door like a malty black flashbang. The bottle is obnoxiously hard to open, the cork not only got stuck, but it broke under moderate force. At first I almost subbydeuced in my pants when I saw the substantial carb after being traumatized by the 2010 BA IRS debacle. There was no mistaking this shit though, shit looks viscous but not underattenuated, that Aristotelian Golden Mean in the Parabola and CW16 range, where you dont feel like a diabetic fuck (see: Huna) but you don’t feel like you are counting Weight Watchers Points (see: pre-2013 Eclipse/Czar Jack.) The mocha foam looks like a coffee drink prepared by one of those Suicide Girl looking baristas. Beer make you all nervous, you be buying cake pops and shit.

After dealing with missteps and knockoffs, Stone finally knocked it out of the park with its flagship offering.

After dealing with missteps and knockoffs, Stone finally knocked it out of the park with its flagship offering.

S: God fucking damnit. Why does this have to be $20 a 500ml with a nose like that? This takes that BA Speedway model and ramps up the roast and acidity like cold brew batches from Stumptown, chocolate and kaffir lime leaf, roasted graham cracker, mallowfoam and milk chocolate. The s’more joke is lingering but the coffee dominates and prevents an overlying sweetness and adds to the balance.

T: The sharp abv lingers more a moment on the tongue but is a perfect compliment to the toasty acidity of the coffee. There is a drying twix/chocolate aspect that warms the bitter zones with a light hoppy touch and closes with that same espresso bean waft that was such a fucking deal in the base beer. Nothing changes here, this beer just took that Impreza base beer and amped shit up to that Subaru RS Rallycar levels. My natural comparison is Morning Delight as it comes across as more substantial than BA Speedway, and I am too pussy to lock down KBBS so I have to leave the imrpession as a coovee between those two. The barrel lingers along the gumline with an incredible vanilla that isn’t that Lipsmacker lip gloss/Coldstone Creamery shit, its like the tannic oaky vanilla you get from Angel’s Envy left at room temp.

Between the magnificent caramel and vanilla of the barrel lies a poised coffee maltness, ready to embrace you

Between the magnificent caramel and vanilla of the barrel lies a poised coffee maltness, ready to embrace you

M: This is lighter than the hefty Abyss and massive BT/Huna finishing gravity masters, but so much for the better. Honestly I am not surprised given the character of regular ass, delicious Stone IRS. The coffee and the barrel just lay in bed with you like an exotic Craigslist casual encounter and you have way more than you bargained for. This shocked the hell out of me given how completely shitty most of the QM series presentations are, let’s be realistic here. I am the furthest thing from a Stone fanboy and their saison game could not even be salvaged by Stillwater intervention; but this, this is some other worldly shit.

D: Here we are 650 words in and the bottle is almost gone, exceedingly crushable and the complete lack of the cloying sweetness on the closer is underscored in a helvetica font by the dryness of the bourbon barrel and coffee toastiness. Inevitably some poor dipshit will interject with “BCBW COFFEE COSTS LESS AND IS PROBABLY BETER.” In this instance yes, BCBCS is much more affordable, but it simply is not better as a vehicle for delivery of coffee and barrel character, because this beer is stripped down with them Sparco seats and coffee momo pedals. BCBCS is far more affordable but this beer is simply the better executed of the two. If you are a poor fuck without a Fedex account, tell yourself whatever gets you to sleep at night, I guess. The luxury is in its brashness, both beers are amazing and I love BCBCS, but this is a whole different game. Highly recommended.

This stout is more massive than it appears, take it in carefully.

This stout is more massive than it appears, take it in carefully.

Narrative: Mikhail Bulgakov rapped his state-issued fountain pen on the rich glaze on his imported poplar desk. The title sheet for his magnum opus, The Master and Margarita, lay unfinished and the onset of writers block lay across his limbs as he slumped into a supple lambskin loveseat. “It is not right, I need…something,” he remonstrated to himself as he rifled through his cabinets, seeking a generic bottle of rye whiskey issued by the local magistrate in gratitude for his recent work and gracious compliance with his stern ban. The silky sting of the rye made him long for a decadent malty treat, the kiss of a deep chocolate contraband, disallowed in the new Republic. “THAT IS IT, by God,” he feverishly sat at the compact Hammond 1B typewriter, fingers rapping out his masterpiece, urging aesthetic to the highest paradigm predicated on a single desire: to drink a fantastic stout free from governmental oppression. “Manuscripts don’t burn” in the same fashion that his desire for a creamy decadent libation burned in his heart. It would take decades to realize his dream, but the stark love of Russian Imperial Stouts and the dreams of free fermentation licenses powered the candid reality behind Margarita. The world was forever changed.


Stone I am disappoint

I went to the Blue Palms anniversary yesterday and, by and large, the event was pretty chill. Quite the opposite, actually. The 95 degree weather was offset by the solid tap list pretty well. One thing that rustled the jimmies of a substantial number of attendants was the wholesale omission of Stone Barrel Aged IRS without word or warning. If you read this site, you know that I have failed time and time again to land that elusive black beauty and I have dishonored my stout heritage.

Anyway, patrons started rolling in at 12:15 when the gates were opened and, despite the 95 degree heat, wanted to mash out on imperial bourbon barrel stouts. The night before, Ba IRS was on the taplist, when the day of lists were distributed, it was completely removed without explanation. This means if you bought a ticket solely to try that rare beer, you got baited and switched harder than a kid who bought Battletoads.

I went to the Stone tent to see how the cow eats the cabbage and they consoled me, “don’t worry we didnt bring our most celebrated flagship beer that recently had infection issues BUT we did bring you Stone Anniversary 15 on espresso beans.” paraphrased for sardonic effect.

The Stone 15 on espresso was nice but it is kinda like if you show up to the Nissan dealership to pick up your GT-R and they sub in a finely appointed 370z. No one would balk at an awesome 370, but if you were expecting solid bourbon twin turbos, is make disappoint.

Anyway, aside from beer nerd entitlement and victim complexes, here’s some of the noteworthy gems:


Alpine firing sQuad was light, fruity, nice plum and fig notes, light up your chest like E.T.


Barrel aged Ten Fidy on nitro was incredible, despite the equatorial heat. Chocolate malt haters gonna hate irregardlessly.


Avery White Rascal with passion fruit and coriander was a juicy jolly rancher treat. This took the base beer to baller new levels. This beer has another Hawaiian name but my complete lack of journalistic integrity prevents me from listing it.


Ivan the Terrible should be out soon enough, but sipping this old gem remind me of simpler times, when stouts from Montana could chill on top 100 lists without impunity


Monkey Paw Banana Gose was flat out awesome for the weather, style, and panache. Most people have never tried a Gose in the first place and these two girls decked in Forever 21 gear gushed “this wasn’t as bad as I expected.” BJCP’s finest.


The inside bar felt like living in a Tennessee Williams play all sticky dank hot and harboring dark secrets, even so, I braved the line for this 2010 Ballast Point Sea Monster aged in bourbon barrels, on cask. The carbonation was Keira flat but I could pound this beer Knightley.

There were other gems but this half hearted post has wasted enough of your weekday. Get on that grizzy, there is a whole new week of beers to drink.


Baird / Ishii / Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA, A Pretty Core Foreign Exchange sTEAdent

Maybe I just don’t get it, but why does Stone need to collaborate with so many fucking people on each collaboration brew? Three breweries at once? Four? What did Ishii do for this one? Select the Tea in the online cart? Anyway, so here’s another crazy Stone threesome. Their standard IPA offerings are decent and a gentle hand of reprieve at B.J.’s so let’s see if this ups the ante into an axis of tea meets hops domination.

Time to play that classic game where you point out something in the background of my picture and make a clever quip about the vintage or rarity. Ah, never gets old.

Stone Brewing Co.
California, United States
American Double / Imperial IPA | 9.20% ABV

A: Bright orange huges with gold tones at the edges. There is minimal lacing and moderate carbonation. No middle carbonation. The legs aren’t broken, but they hobble along with an antalgic limp. This literally looks almost identical to Ruination, not that it’s a bad thing, but you figure with three entire breweries on deck, shit would get mixed up a little bit.

With several small elements in play, you can accomplish big things.

S: Big hop nose to it with citra and Amarillo, grapefruit rind and lemon zest. Lots of herbal backing but predominately Pliny/Sculpin-esque juiciness. Really great smell to this. It is akin to a refined Ruination, man, really wearing out that analogy here aren’t we? I don’t get much tea and I drank this crazy fresh.

T: There is a slight juiciness but a sharp crispness to it on the herbal note. It isn’t quite pine but it has a distinct grassiness to it. The tea notes are very faint but present. If the taste stuck to the aromatic lines it would have been exceptional, however, it is a bit divergent once you actually taste it. I imagine the board meeting being something like Stone letting them know that they had plans to put tea in a Stone IPA/Ruination cuvee and Baird and Ishii would be allowed to toss some tea in the boil.

Impressive. (C:/run_notracist.exe)

M: The mouthfeel is thin and crisp, on point with the style and very reminiscent of the regular Stone IPA with less maltiness. Hardly any coating is present but that is a good thing given the juicy and herbal notes. If a huge malt backbone were present it would be distracting, but then maybe this would be that hipster darjeeling treat that I was anticipating.

D: This is an exceptionally drinkable beer, with the proviso that you must enjoy the herbal notes going on. If the grassy bite does not turn you away, this could easily become your session beer. The high abv is not noticeable at all and leaves nothing to be desired for back to back drinking. Easily the best part of this beer, but I drank this like 9 months ago or something so it WOULD PRLY BE A SHELL OF ITS FERMER SELF.

OMG. TEA AND HOPS IN A- wait, this is almost just a regular DIPA. Sealion remains unimpressed.

Narrative: The rocking of the vessel in the Atlantic was rhythmic at times, and maddening at others. Cameron Brackish wondered if his profession was a bit out of place in this modern bustling economy, however, that blast of crisp ocean spray in his face won him over more so than any woman ever could. “Sir! The cargo of Darjeeling has come unfastened, I-” Mr. Brackish threw up a single threadbare palm and deftly gripped the thick rope and descended into the galley to inspect the tea shipment. There was the stank odor of sopping wet tea leaves, mixing with the misty air, creating a chokingly herbal intoxicating air. “Calibrate the GPS to embrace all headwinds!” He called to his first mate. Life was hard when you refused to embrace modern technology and embraced antiquated professions. “WE NEED TO GET THIS EARL GREY TO INDIAN PORTS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!” It certainly was no tea party.


Stone Belgo Anise Russian Imperial Stout, the notorious “Worst Stone Beer Ever Made” culprit.

Good and plenty's burning holes in my face.

A while back I caused a stir when I asked people their least favorite beer of 2011, I feel that this beer was the overwhelming winner, although I still feel that the Mikkeller Peat Barrel Black Hole nightmare was the worst, ho hum, here you go.

Stone Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout 10.6% abv

A: Deep motor oil black with no light opaque tones, not the deepest black I have seen but the coating lets you know that it has a huge malt to it. Mocha colored head with lacing that sticks to the glass. So far so good, now for the smell-

S: The anise is light and reminiscent of a sweeter licorice like a box of good and plentys. There is chocolate and some cocoa dryness to it. it’s like the lovely Stone IRS with an angry dark demon living inside of it. Why did this interloping licorice jerk have to show up? Many tears are shed into Hello Kitty diaries over this mishap.

Not even hipster excuses can make anise palatable.

T: The licorice is present in a strange resonant way. It imparts a sweetness with the Belgian sugar at the front that is really present and then rides the palate not unlike Ginuwine’s pony throughout. The coffee supports the tail end of it and the chocolate notes are suspiciously absent.

M: The mouthfeel isn’t as thick as I was bracing myself for and it is a better beer as a result. The dryness from all of the complex herbal notes really makes this interesting and crisp. It feels like an imperial black ale with all the hops and grassy notes happening but the complexity is certainly welcome. I cannot imagine how they are breaking even on such an exceptional beer for $5.99 a bottle.

So I didn't like the anise, come at me bro.

D: This is incredibly drinkable, and not in a cop out “for an imperial stout” sort of way, it is just flat out good. The abv is there, the taste supports it, it isn’t overly filling, you can put it away without chewing the inside of your mouth off due to dryness. Just a total package present in a ridiculous inexpensive format. As a caveat, everything that I enjoy about this beer is present in the Stone IRS in a better way, this beer is only redeemed because it is technically a Stone IRS at heart. The anise is horrible.

Narrative: “Rinse, gargle, spit.” The adolescents that visit Raven Perchmoor D.D.S.’s “Bastion of Oral Hygenicide” never really knew what they were in for. The Misfits played nonstop at levels that were uncomfortable even for 13 year old discretion. “And from when thine recalcitrant dental alignment was once begot, now BEGONE!” Dr. Perchmoor chanted as he tightened the bands deftly on the aching face of a My Chemical Romance fan. Some would consider his practice unorthodox, notwithstanding the gargoyles and dry ice buckets bubbles upon entry. However, he did accept HMO insurance and his work was nothing short of amazing. “And you are absolutely sure the ZOOM whitening is your choice? To cast out the vilest intentions of foul stains and the reproach of plaque and murky taint?” “Uh…yes?” He threw the oversized switch and watched the laser burn away the darkness, much to the chagrin of the macabre dentist.


Stone Imperial Russian Stout, 2009 vintage 10.5% abv

Russian Stoner

Russian Imperialist at its Finest

A:  It has a welcoming midnight pitch to it, inky, but that sort of oiliness like a junior 
year night where there is a promise of either disaster or complete fulfillment. YOU KNOW.  
Also, some khaki spider webbing and no middle carbonation to speak of.

S:  The coffee and burnt notes from the 2011 is absent in the 2009, this one is more chocolate
 with an incredibly integrated bourbon.  It feels like the way alcoholism is perfectly integrated
 into an undergrad experience but you enjoy every moment of the fulfilling moments. 
 The nose is like a cuvee of Black Tuesday and Chocolate Rain, and I cannot overstate how well 
this beer ages.  Take your $5.99 per bottle, buy a case, and leave it alone.  Seriously.

T:  The chocolate is just fantastic, it comes through like a highbrow ferrero roche with the 
almond and smoked notes lingering just long enough like a Carnival Cruise host, but enough time 
alone to get wasted in private.  The finish has a great coffee stickiness to it.  This just gets 
better and better the warmer that it gets. 
If I had a time machine I wou- “BUT WHAT ABOUT ALL THE OTHER THINGS YOU COULD DO” no, 
interloper, this would be first order of business.  Second order of business would be to beat
 all the endings of Chrono Trigger upon initial release.

M:  It isn’t overly oppressive, it coats nicely and leaves a silkiness similar to breakfast stouts
 but without the oats residue.  It is worth the hype and it is frustrating how cheap and accessible 
this stout is.  Why even drink other things?  This is essentially the Sculpin of imperial stouts and
 it deserves every accolade.

D:  Despite the heavy style and abv, I love this stout.  You could turn nay sayers into believers if 
only for a moment.  It simply is more chocolate and candy than stout.  I usually like to fight for
 an underdog but, it is clear that this beer needs no support, it is the reigning champion for a reason. 
 Go forth and witness the masses with this beer.

Narrative:  “Well Jim, they say his fencing style is completely unorthodox” “I agree, we have heard of 
epee’s but using a full on broadsword just seems a bit excessive for the sport!”  The crowd watched on
 as Svardson deftly bounced on the balls of his feet and parried the advances of his opponents with flair
 and skilled bravado.  “Oh my, I have never seen a blade shattered, much less followed by a half gainer, 
this is hardly within the skill manual”  Svardson wore a pitch black fencing uniform and continued to defy
 tradition.  The match was his, he spiked his massive blade into the foam tournament floor and clapped his
 hands together, showering the masses with cocoa nibs.  It was truly a majestic demonstration of the sweet 
and swift blade.