Reviewing my Stone Pale Ale…

Well, the Stone Pale Ale that I brewed is in, and man, this is a seriously good beer. The flavours are very balanced, with a definite caramel flavour to it from the generous amounts of crystal malt (19%). The Ahtanum hops are a unique contribution. Even though I’m expecting the signature citrusy flavours associated with American hops, it’s flavours are slightly illusive, as they seem to really blend in well with the surrounding malt body.  I’ve always remembered the saying that “if you can pick out one particular ingredient, then there’s too much of it”. They’re in there for sure, they just don’t jump out and hit you in the face. This beer is quite complex for having such a straight forward recipe.

One of the reasons, I think, is because of the water profile. I added some Epsom salt (0.55g per gallon) and Calcium Chloride (0.25g per gallon) to my water to match the profile stated in Stone’s book: The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance. Those levels are:

30ppm Ca / 85ppm SO4 / 12ppm Mg / 40ppm Na / 40ppm Cl

These numbers are not very far off my own water here from Lake Ontario, but the sulphate level is a bit higher at 85ppm as compared to mine of 28.6ppm. I’ve noticed that by using Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom Salt) as opposed to Calcium Sulphate (Gypsum), the resulting enhancement is slightly different. I’m not finding it as ‘harsh’ as I sometimes get with having too much gypsum in my beers. Maybe it’s just all in my head, because sulphate is sulphate, right? Maybe it’s the  sulphate/chloride balance? I’m not sure. My point is, I think the water profile definitely made an impact on this beer in the form of added complexity.

The other interesting choice for this beer was the use of an English Ale yeast. I used Safale S-04, but the book suggests White Labs #WLP002.  The yeast character didn’t come through very much, but it does give the beer another underlying layer to ponder.

Since I’ve never actually tried the Original beer, I enlisted the help of 2 fellow home brewers that have. Both enjoyed the beer very much, but if you want to get down to some specifics between the two, here were their observations:

  • clone was a touch darker (about 1 SRM)
  • clone had more caramel flavour and aroma (probably due to my high F.G. This is the second time I’ve brewed this recipe, and both times I’ve ended up with a final gravity of 1.022.)
  • the hops character could ‘punch’ out a bit more

I agree with all of these observations despite enjoying the beer.

I’m always amazed at how sometimes very simple recipes can be so deliciously complex. It shows the mark of a truly talented brew master. And that brew master is Steve Wagner and Mitch Steele at Stone Brewing Co., well done!!

This one is definitely worth having on tap!

Download the recipe here:

Hoptomology’s Stone Pale Ale – All Grain

Hoptomology’s Stone Pale Ale – Extract


10 Responses to Reviewing my Stone Pale Ale…

  1. Looks like you got the color down quite well… Stone Pale Ale is one of the darker APAs I remember having! And very tasty, of course.

    • It is quite dark. I would classify it more as an American Amber to be honest. First for the colour, and second for all that crystal malt…
      but a very tasty beer, I’m really quite enjoying it!

  2. Colour is gorgeous. Would love to give this a shot. Do you think the liquid yeast would have made a big difference?

    • It’s hard to really see in the picture, but it was a beautiful dark red, loved it.
      Got another in the fermentor because the first batch is all gone!
      The yeast character didn’t come through very much, but more than say an American strain would.
      I think WLP002 would be a little more pronounced than S-04,but what do you think?
      One thing I would try for, is matching the water best you can, I think it really put this one over the top…
      let me know how it goes!

  3. Flavour wise the difference (002 vs S04) would likely be subtle. But I would bet the liquid yeast would amp up the malt profile a touch.

  4. Glad to hear this turned well for you. I just picked up the Stone Book and I’m going to brew Stone Pale Ale really soon. I appreciate the suggestions from you. One question I have is for the water profile, I seen in the book they reference their water profile but Chloride wasn’t listed, where did you find 40ppm chloride? Thank

    • Hi Ken,
      Thanks for stopping by!
      I actually wrote Mitch at Stone and he gave me the 40 ppm value for chloride. I was originally curious about the SO4/Cl ratio.
      My water here is a little softer so the extra sulphate brought out the hop crispness more.
      Good luck with the brew! Let me know how it goes!

  5. Stone Pale is my favorite beer in the world. I have tried brewing the recipe a few times (extract version) and the flavor seems off from what I was expecting. Any new updates to the recipe since the post?? Any other observations or improvements?

    • Hey Matt!
      I don’t have access to Stone beers up here, so it’s hard to tweak it to try and duplicate it. Having said that, from what I remember, the crystal malts in this original recipe should definitely be lowered as the percentage was much too high. Would have to try an original to know where to take it from there…
      Let me know if you discover anything!

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