While the average person attends beer events to imbibe, Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele goes to scout for potential collaborators. It was during one of these events that Steele met Tonya Cornett from the 10 Barrel Brewing Company in Bend, OR, and Megan O’Leary Parisi, from the up-and-coming Bluejacket Brewery in Washington, DC, and invited them to brew at Stone’s 120-barrel brewhouse (an invitation that, should we ever receive it, we would really, really, really want to take… ahem). There, the trio developed a recipe based on ingredients indigenous to Southern California: avocado honey, dried jasmine, and calendula flowers grown at the Stone Farmstead. Perfect for an American Blonde, right? Wrong. The brewers surprised us by turning out an Imperial porter.
Now, it should be said that we normally like our fruity beers fruity and our dark beers dark, period. But we managed to get our hands on a bottle of 10 Barrel/Bluejacket/Stone Suede Imperial Porter — which comes in a sexy brown and purple bomber — before the official October 7th release, and were pleasantly surprised at the result. As it turns out, great things happen when brewers get together. The beer pours a dark brown, with a centimeter of tan head that quickly dissipates. There’s no lacing, although that generally reflects more on the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of the glass than any of the beer’s qualities. Although the Suede Imperial lacks a particularly distinguished scent, the taste comes through — an immediate rush of brown sugar followed by high carbonation, alcoholic heat and raisins and other dark fruits. At 9.6% ABV, half a bottle is enough to get the average man (or writer) pleasantly buzzed.
We didn’t get the incredibly smooth and luscious “suede” mouthfeel that Stone describes, but we think this might be a factor of the beer’s age. Properly cellared, the carbonation should mellow, allowing the roasty, toasty java and chocolate flavors to take center stage. The floral notes should also become more pronounced, although they started to play a more dominant role as the beer warmed. We recommend grabbing a bottle and holding out for a year… come next October, it’ll be like having a T206 Honus Wagner in your cellar.