Stone Brewing is upending its longstanding list of core beers by retiring four beers. It is no shock that Stone is stopping production of Levitation, an amber ale, and Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA, originally brewed as Stone's eleventh anniversary beer. The reason cited for the retirement of these two beers was lack of sales, which reflect my buying habits. I have never tried Levitation, and it has been years since I have bought a Sublimely Self Righteous Black IPA. Stone is replacing Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA with a regular, periodic release, Stone Enjoy By Black IPA, which I can't wait to try, and that I imagine will far out sell Self-Righteous.
The bigger shakeups are the retirement of Stone Pale Ale and Ruination IPA. I am not going to discuss Ruination in this post, other than to note its unfortunate demise, as this beer deserves its own obituary. Stone is not technically discontinuing Stone Pale Ale, but changing its recipe, which Stone is (tentatively) calling Pale Ale 2.0. The original Pale Ale is darker and maltier than most pale ales, and much hoppier than a traditional English pale ale. Stone made a video tribute to Pale Ale:
The video does not directly address the new pale ale and what Stone expects from it. My guess is that Pale Ale 2.0 will be intensely hopped, less malty, and lighter than Pale Ale. I am thinking it will resemble the new citrus-focused, hop forward pale ales from Ballast Point and AleSmith, Grunion and San Diego Pale Ale .394, respectively. These new pale ales, like the original Stone Pale Ale, won't be confused with a traditional pale ale, and are hopped as much as an IPA, without the higher abv. The new pale ales are more robust than the hoppy but thin session IPAs, which have grown into a new style over the past two years.
Stone, with these bold moves, proves again that it is not afraid to take risks. It is a business, and these three beers were lagging in terms of sales. I think it's good that Stone is putting new life into its Pale Ale, and if I am right that 2.0 will be more like Grunion or .394, Stone will sell a bunch of it.