This weekend I had a chance to try the two steinbiers (“stone beers”) that were on tap at Bend Brewing Company—these were collaborative beers co-brewed by Tonya Cornett of BBC and Tomme Arthur of Lost Abbey. They brewed the first beer, Hot Rocks Lager, down at the San Marcos location of Lost Abbey, and the other, Rocksy, here in Bend. Since hearing about the collaboration, I’ve been dying to try the beers.
The gist of a “steinbier” is the brewing method: instead of bringing the wort (unfermented beer) to a boil by placing the kettle over a heat source (such as a flame), it is instead boiled by placing glowing-hot rocks directly into the wort. The super-heated rocks bring the wort to boil in a great sputtering, roiling, smoky spectacle that caramelizes the sugars and lends a unique smoky-like character to the finished beer. I’ve only tried a handful of stone-brewed beers, but I’ve really liked those that I’ve tried.
(My Beer Pix has a small photo-documentary of the making of the first of these beers down at The Lost Abbey.)
I started with samples of the two beers at BBC, then selected a pint of one of them. The Hot Rocks Lager is 7.1% alcohol by volume (if I remember right) and the darker, maltier of the two. It’s full of rich toffee flavors and dark and almost-smoky caramelized sugars; sweet rich and heavy in the mouth, the hops take a backseat.
Rocksy, on the other hand, is lighter and hoppier. 6.8% alcohol by volume, it has a nice malty-sweet flavor but the profile is definitely towards the hops—it reminded me of Bend Brewing’s HopHead Imperial IPA in hop character. Not to say that it’s as hoppy as HopHead—rather, it seemed to me that it was the same variety of hop (bright and crisp).
I ultimately chose the Hot Rocks Lager for my follow-up pint, but both are really good (I would have had a pint of each if I had been able to get away with it!). Worth seeking out (if you live in Central Oregon or Southern California).