Article and photos by: Justin Kunert
Autumn beer drinking can be an awkward time for southern Californians. While the weather demands you reach for that refreshing session IPA, the calendar suggests it’s time for pumpkin beer, stouts, and porters. Luckily for those of us in North County San Diego, Stone Brewing hosted an event to help with this confusing transition. The venue’s garden landscape still resembled summer, as a few brown leaves dusted the stubborn green trees. However, Stone drew attention to a different color with its Pour It Black event at its World Bistro and Gardens location in Escondido, CA on October 16. The sixth annual event had over 100 dark beers to offer from more than 30 breweries, with alcohol by volume (abv) counts reaching up to 17.5%, and styles including stouts, porters, barrel aged, imperials, and black IPA’s.
If you have not been to the Escondido location, it is a must visit as it’s a beer bucket list item for many craft beer drinkers in the country. The setting enhanced this kick start to the changing of the seasons, as I ditched my traditional seasonal switch techniques, which generally consist of pumpkin spice lattes. As a new and highly esteemed beer writer (pause for crickets), it only made sense that I opt for inebriation rather than caffeination, black beer views over pumpkin orange hues, dark pours vs…. you get the point. Let’s just get to the beers.
I sampled 15 different 3 oz. beer tasters, which may not sound like a lot, but these beers were highly focused on quality, not quantity. I’ll highlight three of my favorites throughout the event.
The Lost Abbey Bat out of Hell (San Marcos, 13.5%) was likely my favorite of the day. With many of the event’s beers having at least 10% abv, the high alcohol content tended to dominate the flavor. You’d never know this packed 13.5% based off its surprisingly smooth taste, accompanied by charred oak, smoky, and coffee flavors.
Stone Barrel-Aged Milk Chocolate Porter (Escondido, 9.6%) provided the perfect mix of not too boozy, not too sweet. After being aged in tequila, bourbon, and red wine barrels, it gave the beer a unique taste and awesome complexity.
Track Seven Nuckin’ Futz (Sacramento, 7.3%) had delicious peanut butter aromas and tastes, a smooth creamy mouthfeel and sweet finish. It was a nice change of pace after strong beers all day.
Honorable Mentions- Bruery Terreux Tart of Darkness (Orange County, 7.2%) is my obligatory sour acknowledgment, an all-time favorite of mine and one of the first to spark my interest in craft beer.
Stone Xocoveza Charred (Escondido, 10%) exemplifies how barrel aging can change a beer. Taste test this next to Stone Xocoveza and see how after aging only three months in Kentucky bourbon barrels, the taste and aromas of the beer totally change.
So by the end of the day, regardless of leaves or temperatures or what have you, after 45 oz. of strong beers you were lucky to know what day it was, let alone what season. Needless to say, it was a blast. Check out Stone here (www.stonebrewing.com) and if interested check out the full beer list from the event here (PourItBlackBeerList).