Why, God? Why? Why did you have to take them?
This was the question I asked over and over when I heard that Stone Brewing was discontinuing the production of four of their beers. This is also the question I asked over and over when I spilled my bowl of Goldfish crackers all over the floor at work today. Those little fish were too young and too cheesy to die. Rest in cheesy fish heaven, my sweets. (That heaven actually sounds pretty gross).
While the demise of delicate seafood-shaped starch garbage is inevitable, I thought that Stone’s classic hoppy beer recipes would be everlasting. I was proved wrong a couple months ago when the brewery announced that they would no longer be brewing their Pale Ale, Ruination IPA, Levitation Amber Ale, and Sublimely Self Righteous Black IPA. For lack of a more eloquent explanation for their disappearance, these beers were old hat. Stone Brewing has grown substantially since its humble beginnings in the 1990s, and it’s time to update their beer inventory. They’ve added so many new styles to their repertoire over the years, a few older beers had to step aside to make room.
Nevertheless, the news was devastating. Once my tiny dinosaur brain processed all the one emotion I was feeling, I knew exactly what I had to do. I had to pair these beers with a proper goodbye.
With the help of friends, I tracked down each of the four soon-to-be-discontinued Stone beers, nearly losing my teeth in the process when I fell face-first into a very dangerous walk-in cooler at a nearby gas station. No matter, though. Anything for Stone.
Once acquired, we opened each beer, drank, and mourned. They were good beers and we all agreed that their lives should be celebrated funeral-style.
With nothing but empty bottles left, we decided against cremation because trash can fires are illegal in these parts. Instead, we held an open-casket funeral, minus the casket. What follows is documentation of our very somber funeral procession, the burial, and a eulogy for each deceased Stone beer:
Sublimely Self Righteous Black IPA
I know life was hard for you, but your internal struggle between dark malt flavor and hop bitterness did not go unnoticed. I was with you every step of the way, I felt your pain, and I tasted the victory of hops when all was said and drunk. The fight is over now. Rest peacefully, old chum-a-dub-dub.
Levitation Amber Ale
Unlike most of your bitter brethren, you had a sweet side to you. Your mild-mannered demeanor and beautiful copper face will be missed. Hush now. No crying. We’ll see each other one day, on a caramel cloud in the sky.
You were always a bright and assertive leader. Before the practice of hopping beers became an impossible competition, you were king. You ruined them all. You will forever wear the hop crown in my eyes…which I promise don’t have tears in them right now…*sniff*…don’t look at me.
My old friend. We’ve really been through a lot, haven’t we? How many meals do you think we’ve had together over the years? Ha! Hey, do you remember that one time you just couldn’t contain yourself and you spilled all over my heart-shaped Valentine’s Day pizza? Haha! Boy, that was a real mess, wasn’t it? And you know, I didn’t even mind it. I ate the pizza anyway because your balanced malt and hop characteristics were the perfect compliment to pizza. You were always the perfect compliment…to me. I love you.
Only two days after these beers were laid to rest, I awoke from my depressive afternoon slumber to a knock at the door. I threw on a robe to cover my naughty bits and body hair, which isn’t actually my own hair, it’s cat hair that sticks to me when I sleep, and I shuffled hesitantly to the door.
I was frustrated to open the door and find that nobody was there. Those meddling kids! I was just about to slam the door shut and return to a grumpy hibernation when I looked down at the doormat and saw two six-packs of brand-new, sparkling baby beers just sitting there. They were beautiful, and it became obvious very quickly that they were in need of a caretaker. I took the beers under my literal wings, which I’d grown during my nap, and brought them inside.
Stone’s Pale Ale 2.0 and Ruination Double IPA 2.0 bear some resemblance to their parent beers, but their personalities are certainly different. Both beers are kicking with new hop flavor! Pale Ale 2.0 retains a great malty background, with a splash of orange-y Mandarina Bavaria hops. Ruination Double IPA 2.0 still has a lovely, lasting bitterness to it, but the presence of Centennial, Citra, Simcoe, and Azacca hops lend a pleasant aroma and citrusy floral taste to the new brew. Not to mention, they both have their father’s eyes. Awwwwww.
I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Stone’s discontinued ales, but I’m more than excited to have these 2.0 bundles of joy in my life. I believe Semisonic said it best when they said “Every new beginning starts with some other beginning’s end.”
And with that, it’s closing time. Catch you on the flip side, my beer buddies.