Stone Beerfest and Home Brew Night
Thirstday was a two-for-one special at The Bottle Shop, with Stone Beerfest and Home Brew Night happening on the same day. For Stone Beerfest, unlimited pours of a selection of ten beers from my personal favorite brewery made for a must-attend event. The place was packed with mostly new faces, all eager to prove that they were indeed worthy of craft beer.
I started with the 12-12-12 Vertical Epic Ale, a Belgian style strong dark beer and the finis to a series of ten beers brewed once and released every year. I had previously been able to try the 2010 and 2011 releases, although I really didn’t enjoy either very much. 2012’s edition was the best of the three for me, syrupy with a distinctly spice-laden and complex blend of flavors. The ingredient list reads more like a spice rack than a beer recipe: “cinnamon, ginger, allspice, sweet orange peel, clove (only a little!) and rosehips”. This was an undeniably Belgian in style, but with a dry, spicy flavor instead of the usual fruitiness of a strong dark Abbey ale. I found this beer very enjoyable, and would definitely order it again while a few bottles still remain in the world.
I was then able to try something I’ve been meaning to for a long time: a parallel tasting of different Arrogant Bastard variants. The regular Arrogant Bastard Ale was, surprisingly drinkable. Then again, modesty aside, I think I’ve “proven my worth,” to put it in Stone’s language. Being much more accustomed to the bitterness of hops, I think my sensitivity to malt has also developed more. Arrogant Bastard was well-balanced but definitely flavorful. On the other hand, the Oaked version was much more enjoyable because of the additional flavors imparted by the oak barrels. I’ve realized lately though that I find the woodiness a bit taxing on the palate. I can hardly drink more than one bottle of the Oaked Arrogant Bastard without needing a change of tastes – usually something more hop-forward. Finally, the Double Bastard is the imperial version of the Arrogant bastard. This was a malt bomb, full of caramel, toffee and toast that really clings to the palate. It’s pretty much a barley wine with its 11.2% ABV and flavor profile. But it’s a barley wine you have to prove yourself worthy of.
This was one of the first craft beers I’ve tried, back during my first trip to the old Tasting Room at Greystone on Legaspi Street. My first thought at the time was “Ribs.” That was also what entered my mind. For a moment, I considered ordering from Racks, but decided against it. After all, there were other beers to try. One day, though, I’ll push through with that Smoked Porter and baby back ribs pairing. Rub Ribs and BBQ makes a good candidate for providing the food.
The last of the bigger beers that I decided to start with was my old nemesis, the Old Guardian Barley Wine. This was an oak-smoked variant, though. This was the least abrasive of the different Old Guardian varieties I’ve tried (the regular version and Belgo being the others). The oakiness lent a more refined taste that served to mute the alcohol and some otherwise overpowering malt and hops. I enjoyed this a lot more than the Double Bastard. Like any Old Guardian, the Oak-Smoked is still a gargoyle to watch out for, as too much of this will put one to sleep right away.
Cali-Belgique IPA is a beer that I have a love-hate relationship with. It’s like every batch has a different character to it. The first batch I tried was so bland and underwhelming that I vowed never to try it again. The next shipment I got to try, however, was a marked improvement. This new batch was more of the latter – light and crisp. I didn’t check out the list of ingredients, but the yeast and hops were definitely leaning toward a European style. It’s a testament to craft brewing – you can’t expect every batch to be exactly the same, which makes every bottle a surprise in itself, and it’s always good to give a beer you think you don’t like a second chance.
I rounded up Stone Beerfest with two favorites, Stone Pale Ale and Ruination IPA. The Pale Ale is the perfect introduction to Stone and its signature hoppiness and is an easily likeable beer. Ruination, on the other hand, is for the more accomplished hophead. In the middle of the spectrum is Stone IPA, which is definitive of the west coast style. While the IPA was also a part of the beerfest, it was the first beer to run out, proving that hopholics are indeed a growing lot in Metro Manila. I made sure to grab my usual nightcap IPA before heading home, though.
After the Stone event closed, though, the night was not over yet. Being the last “Thirstday” of the month, it was Home Brew Night yet again. Only a couple brewers made it, though. But there was a significant crowd of curious beer drinkers who wanted to try something new. They were treated to the always solid Belgian style pale ale of Marvin Moreno. This batch had more prominent banana and clove notes – making it taste closer to a sweetish German hefeweizen.
Great Islands Craft Brewing also sent over some Maximo, a pomelo (suha) ale. This was very light at around 3.5% ABV, making it a good session beer. It was also very dry, with the pomelo flavor, more on the sour side, coming in at the end. As with the fruit itself, it’s hard to tell whether what you’ll get will be sweet or sour just from taking a look. This was also solid as usual, but the taste was very unique, even from the creative experiments with local ingredients that Great Islands is known for. I’m looking forward to more fruit beers in the future. A Mango IPA, perhaps?