Sunday, August 8, 2010

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Stone IPA ~ Bringing Moths to My Flame

Complete strangers were looking me in the eye and smiling. Hey buddy, the first one said. A second a few feet later added Lookin' good. I smiled back. The third looked at what I was carrying, grinned, and gave a rueful shake of his head. How's it going, man? No doubt about it: that was pure, unadulterated envy.

I wasn't twenty feet inside the grocery store when it stuck me like a cast iron skillet upside my big pumpkin head: Stone 10th Anniversary India Pale Ale is an irresistible pheromone for San Diego beer geeks.

Like it was an infant, I was cradling a three-liter bottle in the crook of my left arm as I headed for the store's Coinstar machine. The beer itself was gone and the bottle was half full of several months' worth of pocket change — but the allure of Stone's IPA remained as strong as ever. Maybe it was just the mere hugeness of the bottle, but I carried it with the mug-hoisting gargoyle facing out, so I suspect it was the brand itself. San Diego is a beer town and these boys know their brews.

I'd bought the beer for coworkers a few years ago when I was an account manager for a local advertising firm. One client came to us for a complete rebranding and everything — from the name and logo to the lobby sign, prospectus, and business cards — needed new designs. By the time we finished, there wasn't a single person in the firm who hadn't contributed to the project. Everyone at the office got a sample of the potent (10% abv) hopped ale. I kept the bottle and have been stuffing coins into it ever since.

Once or twice a year, I haul those coins to a Coinstar machine and redeem for credit. I want to buy a machine for the kitchen and Amazon's got it cheap. Well, 35% off retail. The coins were just weighing down the floor and this seemed a better use for it. Cool thing about Coinstar is that it normally takes a hefty percentage when issuing store credit, but at some — and apparently only some — machines, it will issue credit for various online retailers without taking the percentage. Put in $120 worth of change and get $120 in credit.

As long as my bank won't take a of bottle of coins anymore, then the beer geeks of San Diego will see me again come Christmastime.

Meanwhile, I really should score another big ass bottle of delicious Stone's most recent anniversary ale. Find tasting notes on the 10th Anniversary IPA here.

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