Ken Schmidt / Iron Fist / Stone Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout Released October 8th

October 9, 2012

Stone Brewing Co.  released the “Ken Schmidt / Iron Fist / Stone Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout,” a collaboration beer with San Diego homebrewer Ken Schmidt and Iron Fist Brewing Co. from Vista, Calif.  Schmidt was chosen to collaborate with the San Diego breweries after his original creation won the Stone (4th Annual) 2012 March Madness Homebrew Competition & AHA Rally at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens. The winning beer earned Schmidt the opportunity to have his recipe professionally brewed at Stone and distributed across the U.S.

Stone's Mitch Steele, Iron Fist's Brandon Sieminski, and
Ken Schmidt
Fresh mint leaves from Stone Farms and chocolate made by Southern California chocolatier ChocoVivo were included in the beer, showcasing the mint chocolate flavors that blend together perfectly. However, to get an extra kick of cool mintiness found in Schmidt's homebrew version, which used a chocolate mint extract, Stone searched for a 100 percent natural flavor extract to add to the beer (hence the "Ale brewed with coca and mint with natural flavors added" line on the bottle.) The result is a beer with aromas of herbal mint, cocoa, and hints of caramel in the nose. The first sip tastes of pronounced peppermint, cocoa and dark roasted coffee malt flavors that burst on the palate.

“There’s always uncertainty when it comes to adding spices or herbs to a beer, and this combination could’ve been disastrous, or it could’ve worked beautifully,” Mitch Steele, brewmaster at Stone Brewing Co., said. “Fortunately, it was the latter; the beer was better than everyone could have expected, and it was clear that this was the winning beer as soon as we tasted it. It was exquisitely well-crafted with amazing chocolate mint flavors.  Given its complexity, it was a challenge for us to replicate Ken’s homebrew recipe on our large system. But, given our past success with Ken’s first beer, and by enlisting the help of Brandon Sieminski from Iron Fist, we’ve nailed it: a lusciously smooth imperial stout teeming with cocoa and mint.”

Stats: 9.6% abv, 69 IBUs
Availability: Limited 12-ounce bottles and draft, beginning October 8
Hops bill: East Kent Goldings
Distribution: Ariz., Calif., Colo., Fla., Ill., Mass., N.C., N.M., N. J., N.Y., Ohio, Ore., Pa., S.C., Texas, Va., Vt., and Wash.

Tasting Notes, provided by Brewmaster Mitch Steele

Appearance: Deep brown with a light brown head.
Aroma: Herbal mint, cocoa, and hints of caramel, followed by roasted malts and hints of hops.
Taste: A zing of fresh peppermint on a foundation of cocoa on the front of the palate, followed by dark roasted coffee/cocoa malt flavors and those wonderful esters we so lovingly associate with beer. The mint and cocoa retain their presence throughout the palate, which finishes nicely with pleasing bitterness and a slight dryness. The balance of chocolate, mint and imperial stout flavors is amazing...the flavors meld together fantastically!
Palate: A very smooth and full-bodied (but not sweet) beer, with the refreshing effect of the mint and slight cacao dryness and bitterness on the finish.
Overall: I recommend serving this beer at cellar temperature (50-55°F), as a warmer serving temperature will really allow the beer to open up. This is a terrific beer to drink through a range of temperatures, because as it warms in the glass, the flavors get more pronounced with increased depth and complexity, thus making it very interesting to see how the flavors develop with each taste. It was exciting to use our very own fresh peppermint and chocolate mint from just a few miles away at Stone Farms in this brew. We got the cacao from the terrific Chocovivo in Venice, Calif., which came to us in big sheets that were stone ground for us, specifically for the brewing of this beer.

Suggested food pairings, provided by "Dr." Bill Sysak

Appetizers: Steak-wrapped cheesy tater tots, lamb meatballs, braised beef tacos with mole sauce, beef satay with peanut sauce
Soups and Stews: Carbonade flamande, oxtail soup, goulash, beef stew with cinnamon added
Main course: Cocoa-rubbed tenderloin, Korean BBQ, rare lamb chops, liver and onions, beef cheeks
Cheeses: Amablu, Caveman Blue Cheese, Crema de Blue, Marieke Aged Gouda
Cigars: La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel Cigars, Liga Privada No. 9 Corona Doble, Viaje C4, Ashton VSG, Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970