Stone Brewing as a Pitching Staff

Eno Sarris, March 30, 2016

Baseball is about to begin, and rosters are being set. I love pitching and so it's fun to comb over these rosters and figure out which pitchers rae going to be used in which roles. To that point, twitter user Sweet Maddy Lee had a good idea: if a bigger craft brewery was a pitching staff, what beers would fill which roles? 

I asked my Untappd account which brewery I was most familiar with, and the answer was obvious. 

Num Brewery Total
1 Stone Brewing Company 62
2 Almanac Beer Company 49
3 Drake's Brewing Company 45
4 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 45
5 Firestone Walker Brewing Company 44
6 Russian River Brewing Company 42
7 Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits 34
8 Goose Island Beer Co. 30
9 Lagunitas Brewing Company 30
10 Deschutes Brewery 28
11 Dogfish Head Craft Brewery 27
12 Green Flash Brewing Company 26
13 AleSmith Brewing Company 22
14 Alpine Beer Company (CA) 22
15 Modern Times Beer 22
16 Boulevard Brewing Co. 20
17 Ninkasi Brewing Company 20
18 Cellarmaker Brewing Company 19
19 Port Brewing Company 19
20 Rogue Ales & Spirits 18

I apologize for the Rogue checkins but they do a bunch of weird beers that always tempt me. In my defense, my average score (3.1) is the lowest -- by far -- of my most enjoyed breweries. 

Anyway, looks like Stone (average 3.93) is the brewery for this exercise. So let's sort them out. 

Stone Enjoy By IPA
Who's the guy you want out there on the mound every day, every big game, every time it matters? Enjoy By. If you want someone to like Stone as much as you do, there's no way you don't start with the Enjoy By. They innovated the game, to an extent, by making freshness the marketing spin. On top of that, this fruity dank juicy IPA is still at the forefront despite having made a billion versions. It's inspired spin-offs! It's absolutely your ace. 

Number Two Starter
RuinTen Triple IPA

When I think of a number two starter, I think of someone with big stuff that's missing some tweak and is therefore not an ace. Like Carlos Carrasco on the Indians, who has great pitches but not great command. Or Stephen Strasburg's inability to stay healthy (or misfortune of being on a team with Max Scherzer). Or Jake Odorizzi's lack of a breaking ball. Or RuinTen's lack of subtlety. It's decent for a Triple IPA, but boy is it a bitter hop bomb in order to try to hide that alcohol. 

Mid-Rotation Starter
Japanese Green Tea IPA
Nobody really loves the mid-rotation guy. Nobody wants to know about your Hisashi Iwakuma or Anibal Sanchez, even if they are super solid. Nobody wants to hear about Gio Gonzalez switching from the four-seamer to the two-seamer, or Scott Kazmir's velocity recovery and his breaking ball tinkering. It's just not sexy. Maybe, to some, the Green Tea is sexy. Some people love hearing about Scott Kazmir's breaking balls! I do! But if you don't love green tea or less than sexy mid-rotation startes, you may not have loved this Green Tea effort from Stone. 

Fifth Starter
Stone Cali-Belgique IPA

Your mid-rotation starter is funky. He's had to adapt to getting older by adding a cutter, or a splitter. He's learned control as his fastball has faded. He's got something going on, but it's not something you'd really brag about at the bar, and he's just hanging on to relevancy. In the same way, it's nice that Stone made a beer that crosses boundaries. And while some farmouse IPAs work, this one -- perhaps because of the stone hop package -- is all pine and pepper in a way that doesn't make you want to talk it up at the bar. You'll skip it's spot in the rotation as much as you can, but you might go to it in a pinch.

Innings Soaking Swing Man
Stone Go-To IPA

If the fifth starter is funky, the innings soaker is a bit boring. Usually he's a fastball - slider guy with enough command to get by lefties once or twice, but not enough times to be a starter. He's got a fatal flaw but can be effective in short bursts. He fills a niche. The Go-To is their session IPA. It fills a niche. It's not as good as Easy Jack from Firestone Walker, or Carton's Boat Beer, or Fieldwork's sessions. But it's there when you need a beach beer and you're at Safeway! 

Lefty Specialist
Tiger Cub Saison

Lefty One Out GuYs, or LOOGYs, are some of the weirder people in baseball. They wear Hulk outfits, they brush their teeth in the dugout, the read novellas in the bullpen, they set fire to people's shoes, they talk to the crowd about ordering dinner. Have you had the Tiger Cub, or the even rarer white-wine barrel Tiger Cub? It's great! It's fun! It's rare. And it's a little weird. 

Master of Disguise

If the LOOGY is weird, the submariner is waking up with no pants on in the back yard at your parents-in-law's house. The ball comes out of where? And goes where? The strangest thing about these guys is that if you took away their delivery, some of the movements on their pitches are downright boring. But since they come out of that arm slot, batters have all sorts of problems with it. In the same way, the stout in Master of Disguise is, in itself, not the most amazing stout you've ever had. BUT IT'S THE COLOR OF A PALE ALE! 

Setup Man

No yelling about the WootStout being the best beer they've made. For one, we know, because we awarded it our inaugral Rookie of the Year in 2013. And for another? Setup men are often the best pitchers in their bullpens. The closer just has been doing it longer or has a bigger contract. Dellin Betances in New York! Hunter Strickland in San Francisco! Tony Zych in Seattle! Corey Knebel in Milwaukee! Don't blame me, blame the arbitration structure. And yeah, Woot Stout was pretty good and if I could roll this out as the second-to-last beer on a Stone Bottle Share night, I would. 

Xocoveza (Charred) Milk Stout

If you haven't had the charred version, I recommend it heartily. I mean, it's a goddamn mocha stout aged in bourbon barrels. It's 10% ABV (so it's bringing the big fastball), but it's silky smooth (good command), and full of smoke and wood (sizzling breaking ball). You could put the Triple IPA here, but it might leave a bad taste in your mouth. You want your closer to seal the deal. If you have the charred Xocoveza, you will seal the deal. I'm not talking about sex here. 

So that's your Stone Bottle Share as a Pitching Staff. Does it have any practical use? Probably not, but it was fun to put together.