Standing Stone Brewing Company

Author: Don Stoudt

Biking and Work: a Perfect Pairing in September

September means many things for Ashland, Oregon; students are going back to school, trees are changing colors, and fall is beginning to ease in as summer sneaks out.  Standing Stone welcomes the season with the Bike Commute Challenge. The annual cycling challenge takes place during September (Oregon’s Bike to Work Month) and encourages companies, schools and individuals across the state to commute with two wheels.

It’s a call to action by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, our regional cycling advocates. The BTA’s goal is to increase health of our state, while decreasing transportation and health care costs, by commuting to work every day.  Over 228 schools participated in 2011 and the BTA helped obtain over 1,100 signatures for Portland’s bike sharing program.  1,400 workplaces participated, with 12,000 riders (including, of course, Standing Stone Brewing Co.).  We even got featured as an inspirational picture of the week!

Currently, Standing Stone boasts 500 miles biked by employees, with over 150 round trips in just the last three weeks!  Our very own Josh Nielsen leads the pack with over 105.6 miles logged.  Nice work, Josh!  Employees also get to enter in a raffle for every day they bike to work to win prizes at the end of each week.  And of course, there is a grand prize winner at the end.

Why do we participate in the Bike Commute Challenge every year? Well, that’s easy: we care about the health and well-being of our community and employees.  Standing Stone’s commuter bike program is in its fifth year and we’re always looking for new ways to increase employees’ health and happiness.  In fact, we’re starting a new employee wellness program at the end of the month – keep an eye out for more info soon!

As is tradition, we also tapped our annual September seasonal ale, the Commuter Gold in honor bikebeertshirtof Bike to Work Month.  Be sure to check out information on this refreshing beer and stop by to try it for yourself. When you’re in, you’ll see our coworkers wearing Standing Stone bike tees all week in celebration of the Challenge. We hope to see your bike out front with ours on the big, yellow rack soon!

By in Brewery & Beer, Events 0

Top 5 Favorite Beers from BBC 2014

In case you missed it, our lucky social media team attended the Beer Blogger’s Conference in San Diego last weekend.  The conference was filled with loads of sessions, ranging from photography techniques to beer blog writing etiquette.  With the days loaded from 9:30am to 10pm, there was never a dull moment.

One of our favorite parts of day two (and the conference as a whole) was the “Live Beer Blogging.”  Spanning over the course of roughly an hour, 10 breweries rotated from table to table pouring their brews (which was usually a seasonal, and at times not yet released). Allan Wright, founder of Zephyr Adventures and conference director, was partial to calling it “beer blogging speed dating;” quick, rapid-fire tastings where bloggers learn a lot of information in a small amount of time.

To avoid uploading the entirety of our notes (although it is tempting), we’ve compiled a list of our top five favorite beer products from the conference:

Photo courtesy of Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Number Five: Pivo Hoppy Pils by Firestone Walker Brewing Co. 5.3% abv
A Czech style beer that is the current reigning gold medalist at the Great American Beer Festival.  This Pilsner has a crisp flavor and gold color.  That, however, is where it leaves all other Pilsners behind.  Clocking in at 40 IBU gives this pils a mildly bitter front and slightly spicy flavor.  Finally, it has a lemongrass finish that’s both crisp and clean.  It’s an incredibly diverse pilsner that leaves your palate wanting for more.

Number Four: Sonoma Farmhouse Sour by Lagunitas 6.8% abv
This tart, sweet, acidic, medium bodied sour was one of two sours shared at the tasting.  The beer is blended with a barrel aged saison to balance out the tart flavor created by the sour.  The Sonoma Farmhouse is a unique experience, and letting the beer change in temperature only enhanced and changed the beer further.  It’s just plain fun.   

Number Three: Marionberry Braggot by Rogue Farms 11.5% abv

Photo Courtesy of Rogue Farms

A beer named after a berry (and not a mayor) and style of ale in which malt and honey are both used in the brewing process.  The marionberry and honey give this beer a  fruity flavor and a heavy body.  Its robust, stone fruit flavors pair well with anything sweet and big, like cheesecake, cobbler or pie (you know, the healthy stuff). Beers in the Rogue Farms series are made with fresh ingredients from Rogue’s farm, including fresh hops and honey harvested from over a dozen hives.  We don’t have quite that many hives on our farm, but it’s great to hear of other Oregon breweries with similar interests!

Photo Courtesy of Stone Brewing Co.

Number Two: Xocoveza Mocha Stout by Chris Banker, Stone and Insurgente 8.1% abv
The name isn’t the only thing complex about this stout.  With flavors ranging from Mexican chocolate to cinnamon and mild peppers, this collaboration beer is far from you typical stout.  The only thing that could make this beer better – a healthy portion of vanilla ice cream.  Xocoveza will hit stores sometime in mid-September, so make sure to grab one to try for yourself!

Number One: Beer Bread Mix by Boardwalk Food Company 0.0% abv
Beer and bread.  Together.  Could there be a more perfect match?  We’re huge fans of pairing food and beer so naturally this Beer Bread Mix was one of our favorites.  Boasting four different flavors (Cornbread, Lemon Poppy, Rosemary Sea Salt, and Original), the mix only needs one ingredient: beer. Just add 12oz of your favorite beer, mix and bake.  Want a zesty, spicy bread?  Try Mt. Shasta Brewing Co.’s Jalapeno Lager into the cornbread.  Something a little more savory?  We’re told the Lemon Poppy Seed mixed with milk or chocolate stout will blow our socks off.  The combinations seem limitless; a beautiful love child of both beer and food. Luckily, we’ll get to try more soon as they sent us home with our own mixes for personal chemistry experiments.

 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what we tried!  Samuel Adams had an out-of-this-world sour called Kosmic Mother Funk. Green Flash shared an incredibly refreshing Citra Session IPA, perfect for hot days and lawn mowing.  Goose Island Beer Co. poured a collaboration beer, mixed with Intelligentsia Coffee Co.’s brew and aged in bourbon barrels. There was so much to try and taste!  So stop by your local store, pick up one of these beers for yourself, and tell us what you think!

Five Tips For Enjoying Any Restaurant Experience

We welcome back guest blogger, Nick Blakeslee, for a follow-up to his previous post, Year One at Standing Stone. Nick has now been with us for over two years and he’s ready to share a bit more about what he’s learned in the food industry…with a dash of humor, of course. 

It’s hard to believe I’ve been at Standing Stone for two years. It seems like yesterday I was writing my year one blog post about receiving my Standing Stone Commuter bike.  We have a lot to catch up on, you and I, as some things have changed since then.

Rest assured, I still have my bike.  I’ve only crashed it a handful of times, most of which happened because I was trying to be cool and ride with no hands.  Once I went up on a curb and tried to balance on the edge of the sidewalk. Easy enough, right? It ended with my tire sliding off, and me face first on the ground in front of a family of four.  They were nice enough to stifle their laughter and seemed genuine when they asked if I was OK.

“I’m good,” I labored to say, readjusting my helmet and desperately trying to get the breath back into my lungs.  My only hope is they were nice enough to forget my face.  Moral of the story: bike tricks are cool, but helmets are cooler.

nick bartending

photo courtesy of Dave Blakeslee

I also picked up bartending. In the time I’ve spent talking to patrons, mixing drinks and serving beer, I’ve learned I can make a mean Bloody Mary.  Some servers and customers say they appreciate my attention to detail, others wonder why I take so long to make a pretty simple drink.  They tap their feet and check their watch, wondering what the heck is taking so long.  Chaos can ensue around me; drink orders may pile up as my work flow increases, but when that Bloody Mary gets ordered it’s like time stands still.  For the briefest of moments, it’s just me and the Bloody Mary.

Most of all, I’ve learned to be a more capable server.  Two years have given me plenty of opportunities to make mistakes and ample time to hone my skills.  I think I’ve finally hit my stride.  Malcolm Gladwell once said that it took ten thousand hours to achieve true expertise.  I’m about eight thousand short, but I think I have at least a tinge of server savvy.

And what better way to use that dash of expertise than to share it with all you beloved readers?  I’ve compiled a quick how-to when dining out at a brewpub.  Recently we shared some tips and hints for enjoying beer entitled, What Can You Do with a Sample Tray? 

I’ve come up with my own, and the title is a work in progress.  I’ve been told, Tips and Tricks for Enjoying a Restaurant works well as a title, but I don’t want my creativity stifled.

I think my title is much more descriptive, it leaves the reader wanting more, all while being succinct and far from wordy.  Without further ado, here goes:

Nick’s Five Tips and Hints for Enjoying Food and Experiencing Restaurant Atmosphere While Having a Memorable Time and Positive Relationship with Your Server. 

Tip 1:  Allow plenty of time to relax.

While many restaurants are perfectly capable of accommodating time constraints patrons may have, it’s more fun to not be in a hurry.  The dining experience should be far from fast food and no one enjoys feeling rushed when they’re eating.  It’s hard to fully enjoy your food or your beer if you are constantly checking your watch.  So come early and have a beer, a glass of wine or simply sit and relax. You can always try a sample tray (lots of breweries have them) before a meal so you can choose a beer you like most.

Tip 2: Try something different.

I’m guilty of ignoring this rule.  I’m the type of person who finds what they love and sticks with it.  I have my ‘regular’ item wherever I go.  Cashiers give me a worried and surprised look when I order something different, their faces saying, “Who are you, and what have you done with Nick?”

That said, you’ll never find something new if you don’t try something different.  Standing Stone’s menu has a broad range of items ranging from Thai to Mexican to Italian.  Look for ingredients in items that you enjoy.  If you’re a chicken and vegetable person, why not try a Chicken Curry?  Are you a fan of greens and cheese?  Try a Pea Shoot Pizza.  Get a little weird, and look for menu items you can’t get anywhere else.

Tip 3: Ask questions.

Your server knows what’s most popular in a restaurant and has probably tried most everything on the menu.  Ask them what they like.  Tell them things you prefer or things you don’t.  Look to your server as a guide; they’re a sort of food Sherpa to culinary contentedness.  Ask them which beers or wines go best with which foods.  Inquire on which dishes are popular and which are not.  Take advantage of the knowledge they have.  They want you to have a positive experience just as much as you do.

Tip 4: Get to know your server.                   

I know for me personally, the tables I enjoy most are the ones who get to know me as much as I get to know them. And, of course, there are perks. I know a server who would personally tour out-of-towners around local mountain biking trails if they inquired. We even invite a few regulars to our annual Thanksgiving morning football game in the park. We’re actually a lot of fun, I promise. However, if you’re into having an intimate meal and catching up with friends or family, we totally understand that, too. Just know I’m here if you need me.

Thanksgiving Football 2013

photo by Nick Blakeslee (with Standing Stone’s very own GoPro!)

 

Tip 5: Have a good time.

Most of us don’t go out to eat just because we’re hungry; we do it because it’s fun.  It’s nice to go somewhere, eat good food and not have to worry about the dishes afterwards.  Bring friends and family, or make new ones when you go out. You’ll have a much better time if your mentality is to have a positive experience rather than just to fill a hungry stomach.  It’s possible to have both.

 

And there you have it.  That’s what I’ve been able to come up with in the two years I’ve worked here.  If you look at the time invested, it’s about five months per tip.  Which is either really impressive or not at all, depending on how you look at it.  Make sure to let me know if you think it’s the former.  If it’s the latter, it’d probably be best to keep it to yourself (I’m sensitive).

A friend of mine once said there’s no substitution for time invested.  Regardless of how well I’ve used it, the time I’ve invested has paid off so far, hopefully for both you and me!