In Stone Pale Ale 2.0, Brewmaster Mitch Steele and his crew have peeled back the malt curtain to reveal a golden-hued pale ale that falls in line with current craft beer enthusiasts’ tastes…including our own. Having witnessed the rise of lighter-bodied hoppy beers—extra pale ales and the like—Stone CEO and Co-founder Greg Koch decided it was time to reexamine Stone Pale Ale; quite a big deal considering it was the first beer Co-founder and original Brewmaster Steve Wagner released when Stone came into being back in 1996. The challenge of updating such a mainstay was a daunting one for Steele, but one he was up for.
He and his team spent more than a year developing prototypes of the beer, dialing down the malt bill and experimenting with a variety of interesting hops. Early on, Steele and company became enamored with a newer cultivar, Mandarina Bavaria. Developed in Germany’s Bavaria region, these hops come on strong with citrus and stone fruit flavors and aromas. Because, rather than being a focal point, the malt bill heavy on European grains—Pilsner, Belgian Abbey and Cara-Munich—provides just enough counterpoint to support those hops, those hops burst straight to the forefront. But it’s not all about the hops. Steele also added a touch of rye to the recipe, lending a toasty spice to the beer’s finish, which lingers on the palate along with pleasing hop bitterness.