Stone Brewing memorializes a fallen comrade with a fantastic brew.
By Hudson Lindenberger
Stone Brewing of San Diego, a leader in the American craft scene, suffered a painful loss in 2013. Matt Courtright, a 27-year-old brewer of Stone for several years, passed away in August of last year. For a brewery as cheeky as Stone, famous for their bold beers and demon logo, the immediate question was how would they pay tribute to Matt?
Steve Wagner and Greg Koch founded Stone Brewing in 1996 with a mission to create memorable beers. The public was alerted to their irreverent attitude when they unleashed their flagship beer, Arrogant Bastard Ale, upon an unsuspecting populace in 1997. A meteoric rise to the forefront of the craft beer scene followed as numerous accolades arrived on their doorstep. Currently the tenth largest craft brewery in the United States, BeerAdvocate named them the “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” in 2008 and 2009. When you crack one of their beers open you are assured an interesting ride.
After debating several ideas Stone settled upon a tribute any brewer would be honored with, they released one of his beers nationally. Matt’s Burning Rosids is a collaboration between Matt and fellow Stone brewer Brian Bishop and was developed at their World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station location. The Imperial Saison brewed with cherry wood-smoked malts is an audacious undertaking worthy of Stone’s proud lineage of boundary breaking brews. Matt, the ex-architect, never strayed far from his roots, even when brewing, and stayed active in several charities. The beer, which released Jan. 27, will donate all profits to GoDesign, a charity that helps with architectural needs in developing countries and TKF an organization aimed at stopping youth violence.
The Saison style of beer is rapidly becoming a darling among American brewers for its approachability. The style originated during the 19th century in the Wallonia region of Belgium, produced by farm workers during the colder months to be enjoyed during summer. The French-speaking region named the beers Saison meaning ‘season’ in French. The ales are known for their flavors and higher alcohol content, they were the first true “summer ales.”
The beautiful silk-screened 22-ounce bottle is your first hint that you might be holding something special in your hands, with the backside telling the story of the beer. Pouring the beer into a snifter you’re introduced to a bright, clear orange brew with a moderate amount of foam on top. The initial nose is fresh citrus, a combination of bananas, cloves, green apples and a lingering smokiness a bit like the morning after a campfire. The taste is a far cry from normal Saisons’; this beer has a level of complexity rarely seen. A woody smokiness hits your tongue first followed by the sweetness of oranges and bananas, an interesting mix. A slight bitterness is evident but fades quickly into the background as you swallow. The medium carbonation keeps the beer flowing smoothly down and leaves you wanting another sip. It’s hard to believe a beer so charming is 10.5 percent alcohol – watch out for this nectar.
Overall I would recommend this worthy endeavor for your collection. But hurry –soon it will be gone. The company has created a video that explains the beer you can watch here. Burning Rosids Story. You can also find this beer at a location near you using Stone Beer’s finder on their website.
Featured image above courtesy of Stone Brewing Co.