Stone Brewing Co has been challenging the beer status quo for nearly 20 years, but the fan-favorite craft brewery has decided to streamline its catalog of year-round offerings by discontinuing three of its signature brews.
The first brand to get cut from the core lineup is the perennially under-appreciated Levitation Ale. The low-alcohol amber ale was too far ahead of its time, and even a medal win at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival in 2006 couldn't raise Levitation’s popularity with Stone’s hop-obsessed fanbase. Last year’s introduction of Stone’s Go-To session IPA further crowded the brewery’s year-round lineup and the new hop-forward brew better capitalized on the marketing cache of the IPA style.
The second beer getting the ax is Stone’s cult-favorite Sublimely Self Righteous Black IPA. First brewed in 2007 as Stone’s 11th Anniversary Ale, the brand has been available year-round since around 2010. In a blog post announcing the retirement of the brands, Stone says, “the bottom line is that the sales of these two beers just don’t support the ability to keep them in our full-time lineup.”
Don’t be too sad if you’re a fan of the roasty and hoppy black IPAs — the Escondido brewery balanced the news that Sublimely Self Righteous would be put out to pasture with the announcement of a new black IPA as part of the Enjoy By brand. Enjoy By Black IPA will take advantage of Stone’s experience in both hop-alchemy and in the logistics of getting “devastatingly fresh” beer into fans' hands across the country.
There are no details on how Enjoy By Black IPA will differ from Sublimely Self Righteous, but you should anticipate a slightly higher alcohol content (standard Enjoy By is 9.4% alcohol compared to 8.7% in the discontinued brew) and for the brewers to employ the same “hop bursting technique” used for the Enjoy By and Go-To brands to provide “a mellow bitterness and massive hop aromas.” That blog post also says, “Like Stone Enjoy By IPA, it will be subject to periodic limited releases independent from the Stone Enjoy By IPA schedule.”
Stone has made dozens of different beers over its 19 years of brewing, but it all started with the stalwart Stone Pale Ale. First brewed in Stone Brewing co-founder Greg Koch’s condo in 1996, the bold ale balanced a blaring hop presence with a brawny malt body and became a force of change in the industry. Tastes, however, change as well, and the forward-looking brewers have decided to reformulate the venerable brand to bring it more inline with the drier, more aroma-forward beers that Stone has developed.
If you’re a fan of Stone’s Levitation, Sublimely Self Righteous or classic Pale Ale, stock up now. The last bottling run of Levitation occurred last month, while the brewery is scheduled to cease production of Sublimely Self Righteous in April. The final bottling run of the signature pale ale is scheduled for later this month, and the brew should be available through June. If you can’t imagine a world without the classic Stone Pale Ale, start working your homebrewing techniques — the brewery has released a version of the Pale Ale recipe for dedicated DIYers.