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Stone Pale Ale and Nostalgia

January 20, 2010

Brewery: Stone Brewing Company
Stone Pail Beer:
Pale Ale, 12 oz. bottle
American Pale Ale
Kahn’s Fine Wines, Indianapolis, IN
$9.99 (?), 6-pack

I should start this review by telling you that as I write this today, January 20th, is exactly one year to the date that I was laid off from my job. There certainly have been a lot of changes in my life, but I’ll focus on those related to beer.

I moved from San Diego, CA to Chicago, IL in September 2009. I had lived in San Diego for four years, and really quite enjoyed it. But it was time to go. Anyway, when I moved to lovely San Diego at the ripe age of 24, I liked good beer, but I didn’t know much about it. I mean, I knew I liked Sierra Nevada because it was kind of bitter but still refreshing, Guinness was fun to drink, and being west of the Mississippi meant that I could drink Fat Tire. (At that time, they were not distributing anywhere east.) But as I discovered, the San Diego region is not only home to a host of craft breweries, but also a fascinating number of bars devoted to purveying finely crafted beers. The beer community generally accepts San Diego as clocking in right near the Portland area and the Denver/Ft. Collins area (though many locals would object and claim it’s number one). The good news for the folks in SD? It’s growing. Carry on, brahs. Perhaps it was the time in my life where one starts to outgrow chugging Bud Light out of plastic cups, or maybe the fact that I was surrounded by others in the same boat, but something happened. I started studying styles of beer. Appreciating the nuances of different beers of the same style. Spending money on 6-packs of good stuff instead of 12-packs of American macrobrew. And – get this – talking to people about different beers. Things were good – I had a new passion, and I was in a good place to pursue it.

Anyway, as I mentioned, I got laid off on Barack Obama’s innaguration day. Think they were trying to bury the news that 1,900 people were getting let go from one of the country’s largest media conglomerates? A former radio coworker of mine offered to meet me for lunch, so I started off my unemployed life with a nice California pale ale (maybe Bear Republic Race 5?) right down the street from my apartment at restaurant called Urban Solace. One might think this would be a sympathy lunch, but it was anything but. Rather, this was a celebration lunch. I was ready to move on. I had become stagnant in my career, and had begun looking around at full-time grad schools. I though that I would have to continue working a job that brought me little to no satisfaction for a few months longer while saving up for school. Instead, they paid me my full salary to go home before lunch and drink beer. With money a little tighter, choosing what beer I spent my money on became even more important.

So. On to the Stone Pale Ale.

Pours a nice amber color, very transparent and well filtered. The smell is not unlike most pale ales, but a little hoppier (Stone’s m.o.). It’s got a nice full flavor up front, true to its form. I’m not really getting a lot of extraneous flavors, just a nice crisp and slightly malty brew. Of course the finish is hoppier than most pale ales, but not bitter and works quite well. This is not a beer that I’d always go out of my way to get, but the nostalgia behind it works. Hopefully Stone begins distributing in Illinois soon – I’d be a good customer.

Anyway, I wish I could remember what beer it was that I drank that day back in 2009 at Urban Solace in North Park. Any California pale ale will bring me back though. Cheers to 2010.

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