Of all the reasons that bring me back to the Iron Monkey for their weekly Meet the Brewer event, none are more important to me than people and product. “But aren’t these simple fundamentals within the craft beer community?” you might ask. And I would instantly be inclined to agree, but these events continue to surprise me week after week and I always end up leaving the bar with a smile, a story, and a new friend.
Last Thursday, the Iron Monkey hosted Escondido’s own Stone Brewery. The maker of the famous Arrogant Bastard Ale is certainly one of the most eccentric breweries ran by one of the most eccentric guys, Greg Koch. Although Jersey City, NJ is probably a little too far away for the California based CEO to visit on a random Thursday, I did get a chance to chat with the Tri-State Stone representative, Dennis Flynn.
I imagine all Stone employees exactly like Dennis. He was fun, smart, enthusiastic, and certainly loved his company’s product. Dennis helped Stone quickly take over the Monkey’s taps and the patrons were treated to several of Stone’s delightful ales including Cali Belgique, Sublimely Self Righteous, Ruination, regular and oaked Arrogant Bastard, Smoked Porter, and both the regular and BELGO Anise Russian Imperial Stouts.
But in typical eccentric fashion, Stone wasn’t done with the surprises. With the help of Brant (Iron Monkey’s beer manager), Dennis poured out some rarities that are very difficult to come across on the East Coast. I started off sampling Stone’s Cherry Chocolate Stout which could be described as melted dark chocolate cherry ice cream. A very sweet and creative brew, it best enjoyed slowly and thoughtfully.
Next up – wait – do my eyes deceive me? What? Is that the Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA? “Oh, it sure is” responded Dennis. Just coming off a week where the online community was buzzing about Stone’s anniversary, it was extremely exciting to try this tremendously allusive ale. It did not disappoint – it was a strong and hoppy IPA that drank like a stout which any crafthead can appreciate.
Coming off those two amazing crafts, it was difficult to fathom a better selection. But alas, I was once again not disappointed by Stone. What in my opinion was the champion of the night, I was presented with the Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA. The beer was great – a medium bodied IPA with hints of green tea that was very easy to enjoy.
But it’s important to remember that the craft beer community is frequently about more than just the product. Please don’t misunderstand, it is because of this delicious liquid that we are all connected, however, stories attached to some brews are at times riveting and, like in this case, heartfelt.
A collaboration by three breweries from across the globe (Baird, Ishii, and Stone), all proceeds from the sale of this ale will go straight to the Japanese Red Cross Society to help support the victims of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Partners in the creation of the craft noted:
“We hope that Japan and its people will bounce back from the tsunami tragedy stronger than ever!” exclaims Ishii. “A collaboration beer like this is a great way to demonstrate to Japan that they’re not alone,” Baird asserts. “They have friends, supporters, and empathizers all around the world.”
Read more about the Stone’s efforts and the Japanese Green Tea IPA on Stone’s website here.
Before bidding adieu to the rooftop, I grabbed Dennis’ card and snapped a quick picture before traversing down the infamous three flights of stairs at the Iron Monkey. In typical fashion, I left the bar with a smile on my face, a story in my mind and a new friend in my pocket.
Stop by this Thursday, September 1st, when the Iron Monkey hosts Rogue!