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There are two kinds of beer drinkers in the world--those who are rabid fans of Stone Brewing Company, and those who don't like it at all. I've never met anyone who's neutral about Stone beers. I've never seen anyone take a trial sip of a Stone beer and say, "Well, I guess it's all right." No, the response is either, "Wow, that's great! Pour me another!" or "That's the worst beer I've ever tasted. Gimme a glass of one of those fizzy yellow beer-like substances instead." For those of us who ARE fans of extreme beers, those that go far beyond any reasonable limits of flavor, strength and hoppiness, Stone is a beer geek's Nirvana.

I first learned about Stone in 1998 at a beer festival in Tucson, Arizona, two years after founders Greg Koch and Steve Wagner started the company in San Marcos, California. At the Stone table was an intriguing beer I'd never heard of called "Arrogant Bastard." "I gotta try me some of that," I thought. But it wasn't that easy. Before the staff would serve it, one had to prove to them that one was "worthy" enough to drink such a powerful beer. That was a stroke of marketing genius (as is the label on AB bottles, by the way, which starts out, "This is an aggressive beer. You probably won't like it."). Anyway, I don't remember how I proved I was worthy, but after just one sip of AB, I was hooked. And I really mean hooked. For the next ten years, my wife and I (we have identical beer tastes) flew or drove 1,700 miles round trip from our home in El Paso, Texas, to southern California specifically to attend Stone's annual anniversary parties. We got to know Greg a little--at first, he couldn't believe we'd traveled so far just to drink a few of his beers, but then he got used to seeing us there every year. We only stopped going recently because the parties got crazy busy, tickets became hard to get if you didn't live in the area and our tolerance for jostling crowds of thousands has declined. But we still consider Stone beers to be among the best available anywhere, and there are always dozens of them in our dedicated beer refrigerator.

So if you like Stone, you know what I'm talkin' about. Now, how about this book, "The Craft of Stone Brewing Company." Well, it's everything Stone represents, and then some. Exquisitely designed, well-made, very readable (in Greg's inimitable style--think a book-length beer label!), superbly illustrated and packed with useful and fascinating insider information. It's a volume that EVERY fan of Stone beers, or even beer or brewing in general, should pick up immediately, no questions asked.

Here's what you'll find inside the covers. Kicking off is a 14-page section called "The Nature of Beer" that tells what it is, what goes into it and how it's made. It's fairly basic stuff, but still a useful refresher, and the sidebar insights of the Stone guys here and throughout the book are fascinating. The next eight-page section, "Beer Through the Ages," looks at the evolution of brewing in Europe and America and the emergence of the craftbrewing industry. Then comes the 38-page "A Story Called Stone." This section tells all about the founding and growth of Stone. The fascinating historical narrative is filled with anecdotes and trivia about the company, the key employees, the facilities, the brewing process, the marketing and much more. For example, I'll bet you don't know some of the other names Greg and Steve considered for the company before they settled on "Stone" (See page 35). The next section, at about 30 pages, describes more than 50 Stone beers, including their styles, release dates, availabilities, hop profiles, strengths and IBU ratings, along with an interesting paragraph or two for each. So many beers, so little time...

Next comes "'Dr' Bill Presents: Beer How-To's," a 12-page guide to buying, storing, aging, pouring and serving fine craft beer. Don't gloss over this section, even if you think you're an expert on the subject. You'll still probably learn something. The next 36 pages contain 19 selected recipes from the kitchen at the Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens, the new facility that the company moved into in November 2006. Yes, not only is this a beer book, it's also a cookbook! But wait, there's more! If you're a homebrewer (I'm not), you'll be enthralled with the last section of the book, which features recipes for five-gallon batches of 18 selected Stone beers.

Did I mention that you should buy "The Craft of Stone Brewing Company" right away? What are you waiting for? In the meantime, I'm going to go crack open an Old Guardian...
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on October 2, 2011
When I first saw this book, I really liked how the cover looked. It's sturday looking, and it feels nice. The colors in the photos on the front are nice, as well.

Here's what I like about the book:

It explains how beer is made in Layman's terms, and as a homebrewer, I have to say that the explanations of the malts in the book are really nice. It would be a good place to start for review if you're getting into all grain brewing. It's not that you could buy this book and brew (some people could, but not me), in my opinion, but it's again, a nice way to explain the process to someone who might be slightly interested.

The story of Stone Brewing and how it came about is also a pretty inspiring story. I wish everyone had the gumption to do their job as ambitiously as Greg and Steve do/did.

They have a lot of their recipes in this book, even ones they used to make but don't anymore (Heat Seeking Wheat), but that brings me to the next part of this review.

Some of the things that irk me about this book:

No recipe for Arrogant Bastard. Why not? There is a podcast called Can You Brew It with Jamil Zainasheff where they talk with the head brewer, Mitch, and he is pretty nebulous about what the ingredients are. Regardless, after the first show which produced a beer that was close, but not a clone, they re-brewed and the second batch was declared a clone. The recipe is available on the Northern Brewer forums, and here's a personal anecdote - I've had a bottle of beer that was brewed using that recipe and it was SPOT ON, other than the fact that the homebrewed version was probably fresher than the Stone version. What's more, my friend who brewed it, had NEVER had Arrogant Bastard before, since he can't get it in Iowa. I ended up getting him a bottle and he did a side-by-side, with the same results. Why couldn't the guys at Stone at least take the time to point this recipe out if they thought it was good, or say that it wasn't even in the ballpark? What's interesting is that they point out how AB was an accident, and that the amounts of malts were miscalculated when making the Pale Ale. So, could you experiment with the Pale Ale recipe in here and maybe mess around with that, although I've heard that they only used Chinook hops with this beer.

I suppose I could outline what recipes they have here, but I'm editing this review, as it took Amazon a day to digest it. Their more common ones, Stone Pale Ale, Stone Smoked Porter, and Levitation are in the book. No Ruination, but I suppose they make up for that with the 4th Anniversary IPA recipe and a lot of collaboration recipes. I suppose they didn't waste time giving you the basic recipes, but they do give you some of the more unique ones.

At first, I didn't see the Original Gravity and Final Gravity targets, but they are usually in the gray section on the second page for the recipe. They do put the percentages, if you want to enter the grains that way into a brewing software package, which is nice. I still would have liked to seen an SRM (for color) value added. Efficiencies weren't targeted at 75%...they tend to vary when you put the exact amounts into ProMash.

While I expounded greatly on those two items, overall, it doesn't kill the book. Again, if you like reading Greg Koch's writing (which, I have to admit, I do)and you like Stone beers (thanks for the Levitation recipe!) then you should buy this book. I'm glad that I have it in my home brew book collection.
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on October 21, 2011
a must read for anyone who is interested in possibly opening up a brewery some day. greg koch does an excellent job of providing knowledge of beer, brewing, and running a business all in a lighthearted manner. check it out!
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on October 24, 2011
Amazing book, being a huge craft beer enthusiast and Stone Brewing fan, this just inspires me to continue my passion for home brewing. I've been lucky enough to meet and talk to many people in this book, but to read this book makes it more worth wild. The story, recipe's, brews, food pairing and so much more. Its a must read book and highly recommended. To the Craft Beer Alliance, cheers!
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on December 8, 2011
I had a lot of anticipation about this book, and was delighted by the fact that it contains home brew recipes of some of their famous beers. As a homebrewer and all-round craft beer nerd (I read industry publications just for the hell of it), I found this book adequately focused on the history of The Stone Brewing Co. without belaboring the definition of craft beer. Stone releases a number of seasonals each year and I don't get to try each and every one--so it was nice to read through the book's catalog of anniversaries and vertical epics. Throwing in bistro recipes and homebrew recipes was a surprising addition and will be used in my home brewery. I will say, however, that the "beginner" versions of the recipes are probably not useful to anyone, especially beginning homebrewers. If you are thinking of buying this book to learn homebrewing, pick up a book on that topic instead. Chances are you should still buy this book anyway because it's loaded with really great information and history! All-in-all this is a great book and serves as a milestone in the living history that is American beer.
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on December 7, 2011
I am a big fan of craft brewed beer and micro brewerys. This hardcover book is beautifully done in high quality paper, with nice color photo's and graphics. Beyond the story behind the brewery, this book also provides some great recipe's for some unique pub foods served at their brewery restaurant and a good selection of homebrew recipes for a number of their craft brewed beers. I am working my way through the food recipes and plan to dust off my home brew equipment and try a couple of the homebrew recipes.

Whether you are looking for an interesting coffee table book, some unique pub food recipes or want to try your hand at one of their homebrew recipes, you should not be disappointed.
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on November 27, 2011
Was fortunate enough to have had it signed at GABF. It was a total bonus that we at the festival got to partake in a 2010 Old Guardian Barley Wine, but that is here nor there. The book is everything STONE, from the history of the brewery to individual recipes for a large portion of their beers. As a home brewer I look forward to making the switch from partial grain to full grain one day just so I can explore the recipes. Great story and I personally want to thank Greg and the team at STONE for this book. CHEERS!
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on April 17, 2013
Its from Stone. That says it all. Ok, if you are unfamiliar with Stone and you are a craft beer drinker, stop what you are doing and go buy some of their beer. Ok, now that you have sampled the mastery of brew craft known as Stone's you will understand why you need this book. It is wonderfully done, with gorgeous pictures, recipes for both beer and food, Stone history and so much more! Buy this. Now.
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There are a good number of pages early on which deal with brewing. I found these pages the most interesting. What kinds of malts there are, what they contribute as far as flavor and aroma, hop varieties and their contributions, etc...

The book is striking. Simply well made and it looks great. The cover is nice, but without a dust jacket, it does get smudges and dents easily. The pages are very high quality and glossy. The book is full color as well. There are little blurbs at the top and bottom of several pages with notes from the brewers, myths debunked, etc...

The majority of the book is spent on the story of Stone Brewing, so if you are not a fan of theirs, then I would say to look into a different book. This is a much better beer book than the Dogfish Head book (which was more of a general business model book that kept repeating itself over and over). Instead this is a kind of biography of the brewery.

There are some great recipes included (food and beer). The food recipes are great, and several of the recipes are vegetarian or can be modified into vegetarian/vegan without much hassle (being a vegan myself I can vouch for the ease of substitutions in these recipes, if any). The mushrooms are so easy, and so good!

The beer recipes are basic home brew recipes that are not for the beginner, but for a home brewer with some practice. Now these aren't going to pop out as exact replicas of Stone's ales, but it's a good way to experiment with their general style and stay pretty close to what they put out. They have some fun recipes for their Epic and Anniversary brews, which are all pretty interesting. The recipes are easy to follow for the most part, and have included measurements.

All in all this is a great addition to any beer geek's library!
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on January 2, 2012
...they also make a great read!

An interesting book that is split into parts about the history of the company, a nice breakdown of all of their beer styles, and then a recipe section for both homebrewing and for cooking some of the foods that are available at the Stone World Bistro.

If you like Stone beers or just craft beer in general or are interested in just what the heck craft beer is, then check out this book. It is packed with lots of good information and stories and recipes, it truly is a worthwhile book.
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