In 2008, as we readied ourselves to create the seventh beer in our Vertical Epic series, Stone 08.08.08 Vertical Epic Ale, we stepped back and thought about the way we culture our yeast. Up to that point, any time we brewed a Belgian-style beer, we would culture our Belgian yeast strain in Stone Pale Ale wort. For Stone 08.08.08 Vertical Epic Ale, we were aiming to brew our own version of hoppy Belgian beers like those our brewing masterminds, Co-founder and original Brewmaster Steve Wagner and current Brewmaster Mitch Steele, had tasted during an excursion to Belgium. They envisioned a light-colored beer and were concerned that Stone Pale Ale, with its rich copper hue, would be too dark to produce the results they were looking for. So, they asked themselves, “what if we culture the yeast using Stone IPA?” and promptly replied, “why not?”
After taking the yeast we needed for Stone 08.08.08 Vertical Epic Ale, we tasted the newly Belgo-fied Stone IPA and were happily surprised by the amazing flavor brought on by the fruity yeast-borne esters. We know in that moment that we needed to brew it on a larger scale and make it a part of our year-round lineup. But not before we took yet another step back and considered how we could tweak the beer to make it as good as it could possibly be. The answer, Steele concluded, was to dry-hop the beer with Chinook hops. Stone IPA is hopped with Centennial hops, making this yet another departure, but one that made perfect sense for this beer.