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Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

Imperial Stout

Summer dreaming in late January...many of us do it. I am right now as I write this label. Planned to do the writing with a Stone Special Release beer from years past at Stone Winter Storm, which kicked off at the bistro today, but plans were side-railed by a cavalcade of like-minded folk. And they got the first dibs. I found myself not on the kick-back-with-a-beer side of the equation, but on the dutiful host side. It was too busy to even think about getting myself a beer, let alone have even a contemplative moment at the keyboard, so I talked with people, bussed glassware, etc. Customers first. Damn. That generally means a long while before I get MY beer. And so it was...the price of making working at an artisanal brewery your vocation. It puts you last in line as often as not as first. It was a nutty day, packed to the gills. Conversations everywhere comparing multiple years of Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine, Stone Vertical Epic Ales, etc. Without a beer in my hand I felt like I was on the outside looking in! Hours later, it’s dark, and I’m finally home. A moment to contemplate. A moment to enjoy a hard-earned beer! Time to write the label and muse on the things at hand. And what immediately jumps to mind? Hops. Or lack thereof. Never before have we ever had to think to ourselves, “What if we wanted to brew another new, über-hopped beer, but couldn’t because the hops weren’t available?” Well, that’s exactly the scenario we’re faced with now. It’s a situation that’s traveled from rumor to semi-awareness to hard reality to panic to grim resolution in the brewing industry in the last six months. For many, the hops may simply not be there. Some brewers are faced with the prospect of literally paying 10 times what they did the year before. Even worse, for others, the hops are simply not there. And so we found ourselves in a very limited position of possibilities for the Stone 12th Anniversary Ale. What the hell are we going to brew if it’s not going to be a really hoppy beer? We only broke from brewing a big hopped beer once—the Stone 8th Anniversary Ale—and that time it was by choice. Fortunately, this time we actually had a predilection towards a style of beer that doesn’t require big hops, so there’s a lucky convergence between what we wanted to brew and what we actually could. Instead of the bitterness of hops, we turned to the decadent bitterness of chocolate (obtained with a little help from our favorite local artisanal chocolate guys at Chuao Chocolatier). Think big oatmeal and bitter unsweetened chocolate. Yum, especially considering it’s actually an oatmeal time of year right now. (Most people consider chocolate time to be any time, and when it’s artisanal chocolate at hand, we’re inclined to agree.) And when you open this, by virtue of this beer’s very nature, it will again be an oatmeal time of year. You can let a big oatmeal pillow (with a bitter chocolate placed “just so” on it) take you away and perhaps you can enjoy a little “January dreaming in late summer.” If such a thing even exists...

-Greg Koch


Release Date
July 7, 2008

Tasting Notes

This beer pours deep black with a rich brown head of foam. The aroma is dominated by roast malt and cocoa. Upon tasting, the cocoa (we used unsweetened, unprocessed cacao sourced through our friends at Chuao Chocolatier) really comes through with a deep chocolate flavor and a long-lasting bitter finish. The roasted grains add coffee and licorice accents. It is a thick beer, but not sweet, with the addition of oatmeal in the mash providing a rich, silky mouthfeel that adds to the creamy texture.
Provided by
Mitch Steele