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Terra Madre Gardens

9928 Protea Gardens Road, Escondido

I’ll admit it. When I first heard Stone Brewing Co. was conducting a collaboration brew with a member of jam band The String Cheese Incident and a journeyman guitarist who’d shredded with the likes of Alice Cooper, I was skeptical. These aren’t brewers, I thought. Then I remembered that Stone employs over three-dozen brewers, giving the beer a solid chance of turning out just fine. Well, the eventual collaboration beer didn’t turn out just fine; it actually ended up being really good.

In coordinating this cross-genre session of sorts, Stone had keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth and six-string shredder Keri Kelli worked together to conceptualize a beer they could both agree was exceptional, then put it in the hands of Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele and his crew. Even though they hail from different points on the musical spectrum, Hollingsworth’s and Kelli’s thirst for hoppy beer is equally insatiable. As such, they decided on a double IPA. Again, I was skeptical. Another IPA, I thought. Then I remembered that Stone makes really good IPAs. Still, it was hard to get too enthused, even when the duo chose to have the beer spiced with coriander and elderberries.

In addition to assisting on a pair of brews, Hollingsworth and Kelli also busted out their instruments and participated in a pair of jam sessions inside the brewery with musically inclined Stone brewers. It was during the second of those sessions that the pilot batch of Kyle Hollingsworth/Keri Kelli/Stone Collective Distortion IPA was served to spectators. After one sip, I was hooked. Over-the-top hoppy beers are de rigueur, but this one helped remind me why.

Burly and heavy with tropical fruit flavors, it tastes and drinks every bit the 9.2% alcohol-by-volume it clocks in at. That somehow seems right for this collaboration — like turning something up to 11. Another apt facet of this beer is the fact it’s being sent on tour. Before it is officially released on May 19, kegs are being sent to special venues and events from San Diego to Hawaii and out east to Georgia. The current stop is Stone Farms (9928 Protea Gardens Road, Escondido). The beer will be on tap today before trickling north to Stone’s Company Store location in Pasadena for tapping tomorrow.

Disclosure: In addition to his work as a staff writer for the Reader, Brandon Hernández is also a communications specialist for Stone Brewing Co. However, his recommendation of the aforementioned event organized by the company is provided independent of that employment relationship.

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