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One of the most appealing aspects of American craft brewing is the continuous innovation behind the beers and the companies comprising the industry. A brewery that’s led the charge in that area since the uncapping of their first 12-ouncer is Stone Brewing Co. (http://www.stonebrew.com).

From ales with interesting ingredients and flavor profiles to aggressive, non-mainstream marketing campaigns and a unique company culture, Stone has always been anything but conforming in nature. People have come to expect the unexpected from them, myself included. Yet, even I was surprised when I received news that the ability to purchase their next beer will be decided by a raffle. You read that right — a raffle. And, no, they’re not raffling off the beer. They’re raffling off the chance to purchase said beer. Some explaining is clearly in order.

The beer at the center of this new mode of sale is Ken Schmidt/Maui/Stone Kona Coffee Macadamia Coconut Porter aged in bourbon barrels. The original KSMSKCMC (because I refuse to type that much again) was brewed when popular San Diego homebrewer Ken Schmidt won the Stone March Madness Homebrew Competition in 2009, and with it the chance to have his beer brewed on a commercial scale. KSMSKCMCP was a delicious brew and, amazingly, you could taste that trio of flavoring agents in the finished product.

Rather than release all the beer to their accounts, Stone funneled some into bourbon-laced oak barrels from Heaven Hill Distilleries, where it sat and aged for the past two years. This will be the first in Stone’s new Quingenti Millilitre series of “extra, extra special” beers. Future QM beers will include other collaborations including Dogfish Head/Victory/Stone Saison du BUFF aged in red wine barrels and 21st Amendment/Firestone Walker/Stone El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale matured in American oak barrels.

From now through August 16, people can purchase $1 raffle tickets at http://www.stonebrew.com/500mL. The winner will then be authorized to purchase one of the roughly 500 bottles of KSMSKCMCP for $25 plus tax and CRV. All proceeds from raffle ticket sales will benefit the Escondido Creek Conservancy and Interfaith Community Services.

That’s all well and good, but it will be interesting to see what people think of Stone’s newest brainstorm, which came as a result of much thought and represented their take on the best way to offer this small batch of beer (which they say was never intended for sale) in an unbiased way. A third party will select the winners, and even Stone employees have to purchase tickets if they want some of the beer. For the record, future QM releases will be made in larger batches so there will be more to go around.


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