Juli Goldenberg, flanked by Stone co-founders Greg Koch (left) and Steve Wagner
  • Juli Goldenberg, flanked by Stone co-founders Greg Koch (left) and Steve Wagner
  • photo by Nickie Peña
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Stone Brewing Co. is known worldwide for its envelope-pushing beers. Stone Enjoy by IPA, Stone Ruination IPA, and Stone IPA are fan favorites that fall in the company’s wheelhouse, but some of its most beloved brews are one-offs that lay off the hops, leaning instead on adventurous flavor profiles: a stout infused with Kona coffee, coconut, and macadamia nuts; a beer built to drink like an Andes after-dinner mint; a coffee-studded India pale ale; a Mexican-inspired “mole beer” made with chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chilies — all were delicious favorites…and all were the creations of San Diego homebrewers.

Each year, Stone holds a competition sanctioned by the American Homebrewers Association (AHA). Twenty-six entrants are allowed, each of which delivers a keg of their domestic creations to one of Stone’s Bistro restaurants so it can be served — and judged — at a weekend AHA rally.

This year’s competition took place last Saturday, March 28. As is tradition, rally attendees had the chance to taste all 26 beers and subsequently cast votes for their favorites. The top-ranking beers were then forwarded to a panel of Stone employees headed by company cofounders Greg Koch and Steve Wagner, where a final decision was made on the champion.

As in years past, the strength of this edition’s winner was a familiar, well-delivered flavor combination plucked from the food world. Dubbed “24 Carat Golden Strong,” it’s a high-alcohol Belgian golden ale brewed to include flavors reminiscent of carrot cake. That’s interesting enough, but something that makes this year’s blue-ribbon beer more notable is that it’s the first to be produced by a female brewer.

Her name is Juli Goldenberg and, as the winner of the competition, her confection-inspired ale will be produced at Stone’s brewery and distributed nationwide later this year.

The author is a PR representative for Stone Brewing Co.

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