Monday, May 14, 2012

Stone's brewmaster in KC for Craft Beer Week

Posted By on Mon, May 14, 2012 at 7:30 AM

Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele will be in KC on Monday and Tuesday.
  • Stone
  • Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele will be in KC on Monday and Tuesday.
It's always smart to travel with brewmasters. They bring the best beer. And now one's coming to us - Stone Brewing Co.'s brewmaster, Mitch Steele, will be in Kansas City for Craft Beer Week. Tonight, he's stopping by Julian (6227 Brookside Plaza) for two events. At 5 p.m., he leads a dry-hopping seminar, where participants will create their own version. Then, he's sticking around for a beer dinner at 7:30 p.m. featuring Stone brews, Citra and Simcoe hops braised pork belly and duck with Chinese black vinegar (served with Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale). The class is $40 per person, and dinner is $60 per person - if you stay for both, the cost is $90.

Tomorrow, he's at the Martin City Brewing Co. (500 E. 135th St.) in Martin City at 6 p.m. for an informal meet and greet. And with him will be the 2012 Stone Imperial Russian Stout and the Stone Smoked Porter with vanilla beans. The Pitch caught up with him via e-mail to find out what the California brewery has in store for KC.

Pitch: What's been your perception of Kansas City as a drinking town now that you've been here for a little while?

Steele: We've found KC to be a really fantastic craft beer town. Heck, we wouldn't have come here if we'd thought otherwise! Certainly, Boulevard Brewing Co. has helped lay a great foundation, and a strong, passionate network of bars, beer-centric restaurants, and bottle shops (not to mention fans!) has grown out of it. It's exciting to hear about the upcoming breweries, too, like Wilderness Brewing Co. Our Missouri rep, Nate Sellergren, has gotten to know the guys there pretty well and just can't stop raving about the samples he's gotten to taste. (Feel free to send some to me back here at Stone anytime, guys!)

It's just great. There's so much good stuff going on, but there's still plenty of room to grow. And that's something cool that I think you can say about the craft movement as a whole... who knows where it will go next? I, for one, can't wait to find out and continue to be a part of it!

Can you tell us a bit more about how the dry-hopping seminar is structured?

Sure. A few hours before the beer-pairing dinner that we're hosting at Julian, we thought it would be neat to put together something different that we haven't done before. Nate had the idea to do a dry-hopping seminar, where I could talk about the different characteristics of some of the hop varieties we use here at Stone. We wanted it to be hands-on and interactive, so I'll be bringing a few different hop strains with me for people to smell and blend. Once they've found a mix that they like, they'll put it in a tea strainer inside a 1-liter growler filled with Stone IPA. After about 24 hours, those fresh hop flavors will get infused into the beer, giving each person their own unique blend of Double Dry Hopped Stone IPA. (All Stone IPA is dry-hopped here at Stone before bottling and kegging. That's one of the reasons why it's so damn good... )

Anything new/seasonal headed for the KC market this spring/summer?

We've got a few things that KC should be seeing in the coming months. First up will be the Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA, which we'll be releasing on June 11, and it should make its way to you shortly thereafter. Stone Ruination IPA was first unleashed in June 2002 - kinda cool, since it was the first full-time brewed and bottled Double IPA on the planet. To commemorate its first 10 years of ruining palates, we brewed a special-release version of it, amped up with a helluva lot of hops, including Citra and Centennial in the dry hop, and bumping the alcohol up from 7.7 percent to 10 percent. The hop character is just incredible; be sure to drink this one fresh.

After that, we'll have the Stone 16th Anniversary Ale coming out in mid-August. We're still narrowing down the field of potential recipes, so I'm not sure yet what style the beer is going to be. It'll be delicious, though!

What are you experimenting with right now?

Besides the recipe for Stone 16th Anniversary Ale, we're also starting to test ideas for Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale. We're really focusing on letting our brewers get creative on our pilot batch system, and we're experimenting with different herbs that we've been growing at Stone Farms and seeing how they behave in the brew house.

We're also exploring several new hop varieties from New Zealand, like Nelson Sauvin, Motueka and Green Bullet, as well as Galaxy from Australia, and several new American and European varieties, including Aramis, Polaris and Mosaic.

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