Jolly Pumpkin / Nøgne Ø / Stone Special Holiday Ale
When Ron, Kjetil, and I started communicating about our collaborative beer, we knew going in that we wanted to make a great beer for the holidays. That was about it. Greg spoke highly of Kjetil’s Holiday Ale that he tried on a recent trip to Norway, so we used that as starting point, and started e-mailing. We quickly decided to try and use one indigenous ingredient from each of our brewing regions, Southern California White Sage, Juniper Berries (we couldn’t get Norwegian, unfortunately, so we used Italian Juniper Berries, at least they are from the same continent), and (mostly) Michigan Chestnuts. Kjetil suggested brewing with rye malt and Ron suggested adding some caraway to complement the rye, so we decided to brew a full bodied strong, spiced ale with 25% rye malt. We brewed two small pilot beers here at Stone with differing levels of ingredients, so we could get a feel for the spices’ impact on the beer. Ron, Kjetil, Greg and I eventually all met in the Stone World Bistro & Gardens the day before brewing and tasted the pilot beers with a crowd of interested team members and beer fans. It was surprisingly easy to come to consensus on the final recipe, and I think the results show the best of what we’re all about as brewers, working as a team to make an interesting, delicious beer.
Brew day itself was a terrific trainwreck. Rye malt is notoriously difficult to lauter, and my optimism on how well this brew would lauter on our brewing system was completely misplaced. Our difficulties are pretty well documented on Greg’s vBlog, so I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice to say that as I write this one day later, our second brew is still lautering! Our brewing crew stepped up and worked all day and overnight to get these two brews brewed, and so I must say “Cheers to the Stone Brew Crew!” for once again going above and beyond. Unfortunately, Steve was not here for the exciting brew day, he “had to” travel to Italy for Slow Food’s Salone del Gusto, so he missed all the fun. I’ve got some great stories for him when he returns. The most enjoyable part of this whole exercise (apart from learning how to pronounce and to type Nøgne-ø), was brewing with Ron and Kjetil, two brewers I hold in great admiration and respect.
Mitch Steele, Head Brewer Stone Brewing Co.
October 22, 2008