LISTENING FOR THE ANGELS, ESCONDIDO: Today, Stone Brewing unveiled the latest saint in the hop heaven that is San Diego brewing: Old Sludgebucket Ale, so named for its thick, stewy texture and unique container. Yes, it really is a bucket. Yes, it really is that thick, thanks to the abundance of hops that have been used in its production, then pureed and blended into the final product.
"If there's one thing San Diego beer lovers love, it's beer," says Stone spokesman Stone Beerman. "And if there's another thing San Diego beer lovers love, it's hops in their beer. I'll be honest with you: Sludgebucket Ale started out as a dare. It all started when we started selling more of our Hopped Up Double Hops IPA than our regular IPA. Which was already pretty hop-forward. Eventually, we made a small batch of Bunny Hop Triple Hops IPA; I liked that we put bunny ears in place of horns on our signature gargoyle for that one. It sold out in days. Our Hop-Frog Quadruple Hops IPA was something of a joke: who wants to drink a beer with 'frog' in the name, even if it is a hipster-friendly Edgar Allen Poe reference? But it sold out on pre-order. That's when someone in product development made a crack along the lines of 'Why don't we just serve 'em up a big bowl of hops and be done with it?' That was silly, of course — a big bowl of hops wouldn't have any sweet, sweet alcoholic content. Though we did start offering it as a breakfast selection at our brewery restaurants in Escondido and Liberty Station, and it does outsell the granola. Anyway, it started a conversation about delivering Maximum Hop to the customer in a format that could still legally be called beer. Old Sludgebucket is the fruit of that conversation. Consider it our personal assertion that it's impossible to have too much of a good thing. It's not for everyone, but that's only because we made just 500 buckets. I'm guessing that by the time your readers have finished this story, they'll already be gone."