Standing Stone Brewing Company

Author: Don Stoudt

We’ve Joined Wild Rivers, Wild Brews Coalition

Sustainability in the workplace comes in many forms.  It can mean employing sustainability programs throughout your business, supporting local growers and producers, or joining forces with like-minded companies to support conservation efforts. We try to take steps in every aspect of our business, beyond using high efficiency LED lights, low flow toilets and faucets, and high-power driers to cut down on paper waste.  Our farm also uses solar panels to power the fences, we have a rigorous recycling program to lower our landfill contributions, and our Pints for a Purpose evenings support great local causes.

We’re always excited to be part of programs that align with our sustainability mission  Earlier this year, we signed the Brewery Climate Declaration and added our name to dozens of other breweries around the United States that support sustainable operations and initiatives.  That number has since grown to 70, and we couldn’t be happier about it!

When we heard about Wild Rivers, Wild Brews, we knew we had to jump on it.  Wild Rivers, Wild Brews is a coalition seeking to spread the word about new nickel strip mining operations planned to come to our South West Oregon rivers.  As the name suggests, it’s a group of breweries getting together to voice their concerns over the proposed nickel mines.  The coalition is headed by Arch Rock Brewing Company, located on Hunter Creek just south of Gold Beach, OR.  Their creek is one of many that would threatened by the strip mines’ construction.

Map

Proposed Mine Locations

The proposed operation would construct mines near major rivers and creeks, such as North Fork Smith River, Bald Face Creek, Hunter Creek and North Fork Pistol River.  Thousands of acres of botanically rich National Forest and BLM lands in Southern Oregon would be put at risk for contamination.

These nickel strip mines would be put on public lands and would impede on southern Oregon’s extraordinary salmon streams.   The coalition believes the strip mines would have a drastic and persistent impact.  Most importantly, it’d be irreversible.

We believe that Southern Oregon is, quite frankly, downright gorgeous.  The last thing we’d want are nickel strip mines tarnishing its beauty and destroying the natural habitat of our region.  So we’ve signed onto the Coalition.  We’ve added our names to the list in a letter to our state congressmen.  Senators Merkley and Wyden and Representative DeFazio have already introduced legislation to protect these wild rivers from the threat of strip mining.  BLM has also taken action by temporarily segregating the threatened lands to give Congress time to act.

It’s important to preserve what habitat we have left, especially habitat in our back yard.  We feel very strongly about the subject and will work with the Wild Rivers, Wild Brews coalition to see this through.  If you feel the same way we do, please take some time to contact your state Congressmen, as well as the governor: your voice will make the cause that much stronger!

Photos

Rivers at risk

Beer + Food = Delicious.

brussels sproutsThe nice thing about beer is that it’s so versatile.

OK, let’s be honest, the nice thing about beer is that it’s delicious, refreshing, flavorful, a social lubricant, delicious, and great for gathering people together.  And it’s frickin’ delicious.  Other than that, the nice thing about beer is versatility.  Flavors can range from a crisp, clean golden ale to a dark, rich and creamy stout.  In our opinion, it’s perfect for any weather or occasion.

Of course, every flavor of beer has a wide range of food that pairs with it.

Tip: when planning an occasion, it’s good to have entertainment.  Things to have: 1. Beer.  2. Food.  3. Music.  4. A game to play. Things to avoid: 1. Live, uncaged, meat-eating animals.  2. Squirt guns filled with vinegar.  3. Trapezists; beer and balance don’t mix.

For example, our new Saison style beer we tapped last week goes well with lighter meals: fondue, fish tacos or our Salmon Springroll Salad. Wine and food pairings are no different: some wines go great with some things, while you may not want to pair them with others.

Tip: don’t pair a heavy, boxed Cabernet with something light like saltine or Ritz crackers, for a couple of reasons: 1. The Cabernet smothers the flavor of the crackers.  2. It’s sad.

There are a wide variety of flavors, dishes and foods that fit together perfectly with different beers. This week, we want to highlight our weekly food and beer pairing special.  But instead of attaching the sixteen page screen play we created, we thought it would be better to show you a two-minute video instead:

We do the pairing every Sunday at 3pm, for $25 per person.  You don’t need to make any reservations (perfect for an impulsive afternoon), and you’ll be treated to a multi-course meal featuring a selection of our beers paired to perfection with every dish.  Depending on how the pairing goes, our server will also give out a high five.

Also, our resident food and beer pairing guru is there to answer all of the tough questions (“What’s the malt for?” or “What’s the difference between a stout and a porter?” or “What’s the meaning to life?” or “How do I assert my dominance as the alpha male to my cat?” or “Can you please use an adjective other than ‘Delicious’ to describe this beer?”).

Again, no reservations necessary!  Just show up with friends, or solo, with $25 and drink beer, eat food, and be merry!  Why?  Because it’s delicious, that’s why.

Why We Run

White Pasty Legs

Avert your gaze, you may go blind from the reflecting light (photo courtesy of R. Koning).

Nick gives us a glimpse at what the Wild Rogue Relay entails.  So sit down, grab a cold beer and read about other people working hard.  Because, really, that’s the best way to enjoy work.

When the Standing Stone running team (a.k.a Slaughterhouse 12) came to me last year and asked me to run in the Wild Rogue Relay, I was more than a little apprehensive about it.  Running long distances ranks somewhere near doing my taxes and cleaning my cat’s litter box in regards to things I would like to spend my time doing.

I’ve always excused myself from such activities by saying I was more of a sprinter, but, while true, it really had more to do with boredom. I’ve always felt running is a lot of the same thing: start running on pavement for 10 minutes, then move on to some running on gravel for 10 minutes, with a little trail running for about 10 minutes and finally, the run is capped off with a nice jaunt on pavement for 10 more minutes (just in case you missed it). There’s no Frisbee I’m chasing or “Free Beer” vendor I’m desperately sprinting towards, pint in hand.  In fact, all of those things I love about sprinting are perhaps the worst thing you can do while running distance, as you’ll likely injure yourself or run out of energy before you finish the run.  I have a newfound understanding for dogs on leashes, or stuck in cars; constantly waiting to be let loose and feel the exhilaration of running at full speed.

So you can understand my – what would you call it, complete and utter lack of any sort of interest in regards to any run that goes on for longer that two or three blocks?  Compound all of that with the fact that I work at a brewery – one that specializes in fried goodness and delicious desserts – and you’ve got the makings of one very unhappy runner.

And then I ran the Relay last year…

Truck Side

Getting Truck #1 ready for the next exchange (photo courtesy of L. Pfister)

…and confirmed pretty much everything I thought about running.  That crap is hard.  Each runner ran between 16 and 24 miles over the course of 34 hours.  Some runs were in the sweltering heat of the afternoon, while others took place in the eerie calm coolness of midnight.  None of the runners slept more than two or three hours during the event, testing the stamina and patience of everyone in the vans; because, let’s be honest, spending 30 hours straight in a vehicle with five other people lacking sleep has its ramifications.

Handoff Alex Nick

(photo courtesy of R. Koning)

That said, when I finished the relay, I found a part of me that I never knew existed: I was a distance runner.  And I had amazing teammates/co-workers/friends.  Of all the places I’ve had the pleasure (or displeasure) to work, Standing Stone has offered me some of the closest, lasting friendships I’ve ever had.  What kind of restaurant has twelve employees who enjoy each other’s company so much they’d actively choose to spend 30 hours straight with them, in the tight confines of a mini van where their only relief comes in the form of a seven mile run?

All of the excuses I made not to run were just that: excuses. I ran 18.1 miles, split in three different legs, without walking once.  This is coming from someone who hadn’t done a distance run since sophomore year P.E. (and failed miserably, I might add).

Why do people run in the first place? It’s a question I asked myself every time I spotted a sweaty runner while enjoying a nice, cold pint at the bar.  I ran not to have a good time, or to stay in shape,  or because I wanted to. I ran because they needed another runner and I was free.  All of my fears surfaced exactly how I expected: it was difficult, I was tired and, yes, I had visions of lounging by the pool with an ice-cold margarita in one hand and another ice-cold margarita in the other.  But something changed once I finished. I ran in the relay again this year because it was arduous.  Some of the best things in life are those that we have to grit our teeth for; to bear down and fight for that last reserve of energy.  It’s a wonderful feeling to complete something so grueling and terribly hard.

Truck 1 Night Shot

(photo courtesy of J. Donehower)

The satisfaction I felt for running that last fifty feet of my final leg was unlike anything else I’ve experienced, because I hit my limit a mile back but kept going. Anytime I wavered, my teammates would come through for me.  Whenever I’d feel that pang of pain biting at my motivation, my crew would summit a hill with Ride of the Valkyries blasting from a loud speaker Mad-Max-style-strapped to the top of a Ford F-250, and temporarily the Rogue River canyons would turn into my own personal concert hall.

Do I like distance running? Heavens, no.  I will, however, be running in the Wild Rogue Relay again next year. It was difficult, but it was also a blast. But naturally, I’ve gone into retirement: I need to make up for all these race-conscious decisions I’ve been making and eat a piece cheesecake with a pint or two, or thirty, to wash it down.

New Seasonal Menu & Cocktail Recipe: Margarita Naranja

Is that sunny weather outside?  Are those allergies we’re feeling coming on?  Is it time to take our shorts, T-shirts and sandals out of storage?  Abso-freaking-lutely.  Spring is here, and with it comes a whole new menu of seasonal cocktails at Standing Stone.  We rolled it out last week, and with it we want to share a recipe for one of our new cocktails, Margarita Naranja.

Our new drinks range from Stout Alexander (with a Noble Stout vanilla reduction, sweeter than your grandma’s birthday cards) to a Kimchi Bloody Mary (infused with our House-Fermented Kimchi).  We’ve been doing a lot of research (read: drinking) on what tastes best and we’re confident the new cocktails will keep you wanting more.

We’ve put together another video featuring a new addition to the menu: Margarita Naranja.  It’s a twist on a cocktail we all love and know – the margarita – that incorporates coconut milk and our new House-Made Orange Soda.  It tastes like an orange creamsicle.  I’d be sipping one right now if I wasn’t clocked-in (curse you, liquor laws).

Once again, the charismatic Andy Schow will be walking us through the cocktail’s creation.   Take a look at the video, write down the ingredients and make your own at home.  Be sure to tell us how you like it, and if you added your own flair or twist to it!

Ingredients:

Hornitos Plata Tequila

Cointreau Orange Liqueur

Unsweetened Coconut Milk and Orange Syrup (or Coconut Crème Mix)

Orange Juice

Toasted Coconut Shavings

Juice from Whole Lime

Long Haired Hawaiian Bartender (optional)

Video Cocktail Recipe: Big Bottom Bon Bon

With winter winding down, and spring just around the corner, we wanted to share one of our more popular cocktails from our seasonal menu at Standing Stone.  A couple of our bartenders, Andy and Gina, have made it their mission to come up with delicious and unique seasonal cocktails.  This winter, we served several new cocktails; some with beet juice as a main ingredient (Beet it and Wassup Doc?), a hand warmer for our somewhat frigid winter (Release the Pumpkin!), and ginger cocktail with homemade honey simple syrup (The Honey Badger).  All of the cocktails have a fun and different twist to them, adding a little spice and variety to your lunch and/or dinner.

One of our more popular drinks is the Big Bottom Bon Bon.  If the beverage had a subheading it’d be: a chocolate twist on an age-old cocktail.  It’s been a crowd favorite, and one of the more unique concoctions Gina and Andy have come up with.

Once again the charismatic, and strikingly attractive Andy Schow (have you seen his beard?) is going to walk through the recipe for our Big Bottom Bon Bon.  When you are finished watching (and making a shopping list) be sure to check out our Mint Julep and Jalapeño-cuke Snapper recipe videos as well.

Enjoy!

1 Cherry

1 Slice of Orange

1 Tablespoon of Sugar

2 Shakes of Aztec Chocolate Bitters

1 ½ oz of Big Bottom Bourbon

Shavings from a Bar of Dark Chocolate (your choosing)

Amaretto for Chocolate rim

Splash of Soda water

Pour cacao nibs on one plate, and a very small amount of Amaretto on another.  Place glass upside-down in the Amaretto, then do the same in the Cacao nibs.  Once rim is well-chocolated, muddle sugar, cherry, orange slice and bitters together inside the glass.  Avoid the rind as much as possible.  Add ice, then add the Big Bottom Bourbon and finalize with a splash soda water.

Drink, rinse and repeat.

By in Brewery & Beer, Events 0

Freestone Sour Takes Bronze

We can add the first notch on our belt for Best of Craft Beer Awardsaward winning beers in 2015; our Freestone Sour took bronze at the Best of Craft Beer Awards!  The beer took third place in the Berliner Weisse category, a style also designated as sour beer.  The Best of Craft Beer Awards is a competition put on by beer connoisseurs to help promote the best of the best in craft brewing.  The Berliner Weisse category was one of forty-nine styles judged at the contest.

Brewing companies from all over the United States participate: from Pennsylvania, to Wyoming, New Jersey, to Washington, and even all the way out from Hawaii with Maui Brewing Company.  Our Berliner Weisse ranked third after silver medalist Tower 23 by Cape May Brewing Company and gold medalist Volkssekt by Bend Brewing Company. Sour beer

The first thing one can assume from reading the name Freestone Sour, is that it’s probably very different.  Berliner Weisse style beers have a fruity sour tartness that gives them a unique flavor, different than any other kind of beer.  Our sour used over 120lbs of fresh peaches during the brewing process, giving us the name Freestone Sour.  The beer has a rounded, sweet-sour flavor, not as tart as some – it doesn’t pucker your face like a handful of sour candies – but still has enough to give it a lively temperament. We’re incredibly proud of the beer, and of Larry for making two award winning beers in the last six months!  In case you missed it, our Steelcut Stout took silver in an organic beer competition last fall.  For the full list of beer contestants and beer winners, check out the award list at the Best of Craft Beer Awards website.  When you’re done perusing through the winner’s list, come by Standing Stone and try out the Freestone Sour while you still can!

By in Brewery & Beer 0

Four Tips for Keeping Your Growler Fresh

One of the most common questions we get at Standing Stone is about taking beer to go (and we don’t mean the amount that you take home in your stomach).  Like most other food and drink, beer has an expiration date.  You’ll experience the best aroma and flavor straight out of the tap, but we know sometimes you want to take beer home, too. The key is keepin’ it fresh.

beer2We want to share four tips for keeping your beer fresh and delicious when taking it home from your local craft brewery:

Tip #1: Use the proper vessel

Make sure the container you are using seals well.  Air getting in, or carbonation getting out, will cause the beer to go flat and lose its flavor.  A twist top works great, and flip-top caps work even nicer.  Air in is bad, carbonation out is bad.

Furthermore, beer can take on the flavor of whatever it is stored in.  It’s why our Barley Wine is aged in a wine cask for three months, and why many breweries use old scotch or bourbon barrels for conditioning Stouts and other seasonals. When taking beer home, use glass! Glass is essentially an inert vessel, in regard to smell and flavor.  Avoid using a plastic growler that will give the beer an odd taste if left in there for too long.

Tip # 2: Store in containers shielded from sunlight

Sunlight affects the flavor of beer. UV rays are a contributing factor in beer spoilage, so avoid it! That is why bottled beer is generally sold in containers made of tinted glass; grmilk and honey to goeen or brown.  Most often, beer is stored in brown glass, like our growlers.  Colored glass protects it from UV rays longer than clear glass.  When storing beer, make sure it’s either a tinted glass or something metal so little or no sunlight can enter.

Tip #3: Keep Cool

The goal is to try to recreate the environment in which beer is stored at the brewery.  We store our beer between 38 and 44 degrees to keep flavor consistent.  Flavors change when the temperature changes.  When taking beer home, it’s best to put it in the fridge as early as possible.  If you’re driving and can’t put it in the fridge, a simple cooler of ice will do the trick.  It doesn’t take much to keep it cool, and it’s well worth it.  Or pick up one of our double insulated growlers.  They’re great for taking beer long distances, on the river, or out on a camping trip. Check out Outside Magazine’s blog post, What’s the Burliest Water Bottle You Can Buy?, where they tested our beer in a Hydroflask after 24 hours with no refrigeration…it made it!hydroflask growler

Tip # 4: Drink quickly (and responsibly)

When we say drink quickly, we don’t mean try your best to recreate your college experience.  Perhaps it’s better to say, “Share your beer with others as quickly as possible.”  The sooner you enjoy beer from your growler, the better it will taste.  The longer beer is out of the tap, the more flavor it will lose.  We generally tell people to drink beer from the growler within 24 hours to make sure the flavor stays consistently delicious.   It can go a few days, however, without going bad. And once you open the seal, try to finish your beer within a day.

And that’s it!  Follow these tips and your beer should taste pretty darn good.  Remember: do your best to recreate the environment in which beer is stored at the brewery.  If this is a little much, just keep these simple ideas in mind: avoid air, heat, and light.  If you can do those three things, you and your growler will be good to go.

And make sure to check out our Standing Stone gift ideas.  Beer makes a great gift, and even more so during the cold winter months (Barley Wine, anyone?).  Our Holiday Six Pack includes a t-shirt, coasters, glassware and a growler – filled with beer!  So stop by, wrap up shopping with a grower and some gifts, and try your hand at our four tips to keep a growler fresh.

Happy Holidays!

Employee Entrepreneurs: Cameron Meeks with Myriad Mycology

We interviewed Standing Stone server Cameron Meeks about his business, Myriad Mycology, and its history.  Make sure to check out the video below and hear what he has to say.  Or, if you’re more of the reading type, take a look at the post below.

A handful of Standing Stone employees here have their own small businesses that they maintain while putting in time as our coworkers.  We have a wide range of entrepreneurs; one has their own baking business, and another a swimwear line.  We also have professional photographers and graphic designers.

Cameron examines mycelium in his one of his labs (photo courtesy of C. Meeks.)

Cameron examines mycelium in his one of his labs. (Photo courtesy of C. Meeks.)

One employee runs a business based around mycology. What’s mycology you ask?  It’s the study of mycelium, the vegetative part of fungus.  Basically, the roots of mushrooms.  In the case of Cameron Meeks, it’s the study and mass production of mushrooms for medicinal benefits.  Long story short, Cameron is a mushroom guru: he grows medicinal mushrooms in his lab, as well as harvests those natural to southern Oregon.  His business is called Myriad Mycology, and is based out of Talent, Oregon.  Mushrooms can provide a multitude of medicinal benefits, ranging from bolstering the immune system to slowing the growth of cancerous tumors.  They’ve been found to treat autoimmune diseases such as HIV and Leukemia.  However, mycology and its medicinal properties are largely unexplored, which is one reason why Cameron started his business.

Mushrooms

Bounty of mushrooms after a hike with Cameron. (Photo courtesy of N. Blakeslee.)

His mycology business began just over two years ago, and focuses on the production of several key medicinal varietals.  The business has grown rapidly recently, doubling the size of his lab and his overall output in less than half a year.   Additionally, Cameron takes people out on mushroom hikes from time-to-time, sharing his knowledge of mushrooms with those who come along.

Most of all, Myriad Mycology provides bulk medicinal powder, both in small and large scale production.  Cameron sends large quantities to pharmaceutical companies, and also provides smaller packages for the individual consumer.  His products are available on his website, as well as the Tuesday Growers and Crafters Market in Ashland (which starts back up again in March).

If you have any questions for Cameron, you can reach him by email at cameron@myriadmycology.com, and look to his webpage if you wish to find out more information on what he does.

We’ll continue to have more conversations with our entrepreneurial employees in the future, so keep an eye out for great southern Oregon small businesses!

 

By in Food, Restaurant & Menu 2

An Ode to Tortillas

There’s nothing better than home cookin’, because home cookin’ means housemade ingredients.  And housemade ingredients mean good food.  As the years have progressed, we’ve become increasingly self-sufficient in our food sourcing.  With our One Mile Farm, we are able to supply the restaurant with beef, poultry, mutton, honey, and eggs (and possibly pork in the not-too-distant future). We make our dressings, sauces, mayo, salsas, bread, pizza dough, tortillas and more.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  The back of the restaurant is bustling with life early every morning as the prep cooks work hard to prepare for the day’s demands.

Fish TacosSince there’s so much food to talk about, it’d be best to start with one item: tortillas.  A  tortilla’s simplicity may make it an odd thing to boast about, but it’s important to start at the foundation of food. What better foundation than corn and flour tortillas?  Our head chef, Eric Bell, thinks the same thing: tortillas should be simple.  Store bought varieties can have dozens of ingredients.  Ingredients, that when read aloud, would perhaps cause one to question their reading comprehension level.  The list is filled with legal catch phrases like, “natural flavors” and “hydrolyzed vegetable protein,” creating mystery and ambiguity for what’s really in there.  Tortillas should not be complex.  There shouldn’t be more than three or four ingredients.  So we simplified.

Our corn tortillas use White Masa corn, and the flour tortillas use a low-gluten flour from Pendleton Flour Mills, in Pendleton, Oregon.  The few ingredients we use provide a stark contrast to the tortillas available in stores.  Masa and water for corn tortillas, and flour, salt, water, and olive oil for flour tortillas. That’s it. They’re hand pressed in a tortillera and cooked on a flat top grill called a plancha.  When making chips and fried tortillas, we purchase GMO free, blue corn tortillas and use rice oil to cook them.

Luisa Tortilla PressPerhaps the most impressive aspect about the tortillas is the creator behind them.  The entirety of our corn and flour tortillas are made by one of our prep cooks, Luisa Binzha (pictured right).  She’s been working at Standing Stone for over three years, and when she came onto the scene she brought her tortilla-making skills with her.  Luisa has made tortillas since she was a child, she says, attributing her skills to her mother.  Every morning she works, Luisa takes about three hours to make tortillas, producing over 300 tortillas per hour.  She makes 1,000 a day, four to five days a week, four weeks a month and twelve months a year.  The math comes out to roughly 4,500 tortillas week, 18,000 a month, or 216,000 tortillas a year.  Holy grass-fed beef, batman, that’s a lot!

It’s all part of our drive to make our food more sustainable, more delicious, and more local.  What could be more local than an in-house tortilla chef?  We started with our tortillas three years ago, and it doesn’t stop there.  There are so many things we make in house, and so many more we’d like to make here.  Luisa has made over half a million tortillas in her three years here – it’s mind boggling really.  We’re so happy to have her here, providing her own flair to a staple in a large variety of our food.  Next time you eat tacos, a burrito or chips at Standing Stone, you’ll know it’s a Luisa Binzha variety.  Tell your server, “I’ll have the Luisa special, please,” and devour some delicious (yet simple) homemade tortillas.

By in Brewery & Beer 0

Steel-Cut Stout Takes Silver

We love our beers, but it’s always nice to hear others love them, too.  Recently our head brewer, Larry Chase, entered two of our year-round brews into a nationwide competition.  ca741600e6f270810e6c4d98845270b6The 2014 National Organic Brewing Challenge was sponsored by Seven Bridges Co-op Brewing Supply, a company looking to compel home brewers and breweries alike to use more organic ingredients.   What better way to attract brewers than creating a friendly competition?  Only beers using 100% organic ingredients were allowed to enter.

We sent our Amber Ale and Steel-Cut Oatmeal Stout to be judged, and we’re proud to say our Steel-Cut Stout took silver medal in its category!  Here’s a bit about the beer:

As the name implies, our Steel-Cut Oatmeal Stout is brewed with 100 pounds of oats to provide a silky smooth mouthfeel. Opaque black and nearly impenetrable by light, ours has notes of roasted coffee aroma followed by espresso and chocolate flavors. 5.1% abv, 30 IBU

Butternut Brown Dark BeerThe Steel-Cut uses 100% Oregon grown hops (Organic Magnum and Organic Golding), and 100% organic malt.  Be sure to check out the official results with winners in all nine flights.  We’ll definitely have to try the Fuel Café Coffee Stout by Lakefront Brewery and The Bottle Imp by Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. to size up our competition! And congrats to fellow Oregon brewpub, Hopworks Urban Brewery, for winning best in show with their Ace of Spades Imperial IPA.
We’re excited and proud for both Standing Stone and Larry for crafting this award winning beer!  Be sure to check out more information on the Steel-Cut Stout, and of course, drop by and taste the silver medalist for yourself!