As a dark beer drinker, when I first heard about Stone Brewing’s dark beer festival, it sounded almost too good to be true. Hundreds of stours, porters, imperial stouts, black ales and black IPAs to choose from, and held at Stone’s gorgeous, garden-like Escondido location? How could I not go?
Tickets to this event were $49 and that included fifteen 3 ounce tasters. Keeping in mind that the ABV of most of their beers were in the double digits, with many in the high teens, that’s just about equivalent to drinking three pints of heavy-duty beers.
The festival was set up nicely with stations scattered throughout the one-acre property that makes up Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens. Lines were never long, and if they were, these was always something to be had at the station “next door” with the shorter line. As it was, it was very difficult to choose what to sample.
Standouts from the festival include:
Avery Brewing Co. Pump[KY]n Porter (Boulder, CO)
Hey, it’s October and prime time for drinking pumpkin beers. This one weighs in at a hefty 15% ABV. Brewed with pumpkin and spices, this heavy-duty porter is aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels. Is it odd that my favorite beer at the dark beer festival was this one?
To Øl Smoke on the Porter, Fire in the Rye (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Since my dream is to live in Scandinavia, I had to try this Danish imperial stout. Brewed with chile peppers, it is one of the spiciest spicy beers I’ve ever had, but was surprisingly smooth at 12.7% ABV. Not for the faint of heart!
Drew Curtis / Wil Wheaton / Greg Koch Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout (2013)
The current version of this beer was immensely popular in the beer world when I sampled this 2013 version. It’s an imperial stout brewed with wheat, rye, and pecans and partially aged in bourbon barrels. It was deceptively smooth with an amazing mouthfeel and sweet pecan flavor. It made me wish I had some candied pecans to pair with it!
The only drawback to this festival was the early start time of 10:00 AM on a Sunday. Literally drinking breakfast stouts for breakfast might be easy for some people, but it was a bit hard for Malty to swallow! We also arrived late and the line to get inside was fairly long. Although they had food for sale in the festival, we made a reservation to have lunch at the restaurant. I had some delicious mac ‘n cheese and roasted brussels sprouts to soak up all that alcohol.
Some things did run out near the end of the festival, but there was still plenty to try. A few bros in the crowd also started getting a little rowdy near the end, but overall the people who came to the festival seemed like true beer connoisseurs, and not people who were there to get blotto. We didn’t even use all of our available tasters. After the festival, we hung around the gardens until I was able to drive.
Check out this full list of the beers that were poured at this festival. See you there in 2017?