Stone Soup Rocks!
Within seconds of walking into the Wet Whistle, a small sports bar attached to the Abington Club in Jenkinton, PA, I was poured a taste of The Bruery’s Black Tuesday—a beer that can only be purchased by a member of The Bruery’s Reserve Society or one of the few lucky members of the public who are able to snatch up leftovers. Regardless of whether or not you’re in the society, the beer must be picked up The Bruery’s Provisions store in Orange, CA.
Needless to say, Black Tuesday—in all of its 18% ABV glory—is extremely difficult to get in Pennsylvania. So how on Earth did the Wet Whistle get it? They housed the sixth annual Stone Soup VI, a community-driven beer sharing event. The rules for Stone Soup are simple: everyone brings a bottle of beer or two and their own glass. Everyone shares said bottle(s) with other attendees. Everyone throws in a few bucks for the Wet Whistle’s time and trouble, as well as the food they put out for the four-hour event.
The amazing part is getting such enormous returns for something so easy. People tend to stick to beers they think others wouldn’t have the change to normally try, or that are difficult to get a hold of, or are otherwise special. Some people bring one bottle, some people bring entire coolers, but it doesn’t matter—the event is all about sharing with the local beer community, whether you can share one bottle or a dozen. And whether or not it’s the most ultra-rare stuff on Earth or just a small brewery that only distributes to Kansas, the variety and the donations are equally appreciated.
Some things, as always, are slightly more appreciated than others: the Black Tuesday, for instance, or Lost Abbey’s Cable Car, typically only available in San Francisco’s Toronado Pub. Vertical tastings are also popular at the event, which boasted anything from five years’ worth of Three Floyds‘ Dark Lord to three years of Goose Island’s Matilda or seven years each of Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barleywine and Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout. Other standouts were two Samuel Adams Triple Bock bottles—one each from 1995 and 1997—that didn’t necessarily taste good (the 1995 was a dead ringer for soy sauce), but had a great novelty.
If there was a downfall to the event, it would be that everything is coming from cellars and special collections, so the alcohol content is pretty high on most of the stuff there. It can tend to become a game of good-hearted one-upmanship, so when someone brings out a tasting of three bottles of 14% beer, even when you’re only taking sips you can see a quick effect. Here the Wet Whistle stepped up as well, keeping pitchers of water constantly filled throughout the entire event.
Since I’ve been hearing stories of Stone Soup, I’ve been intrigued, but actually going to the event blew my mind. Not only was the event great because of all the amazing beers in attendance, but because of the people. No one got drunk and out of control. No one got mad or annoyed at any of the beer offerings (along with my Three Floyds Alpha Klaus, I also brought an MGD Light as a joke—people drank it). And everyone, beyond a doubt, was completely generous. The generosity is what makes the event; without it, there would be no event, or people would just be bringing bottles of Magic Hat #9. And to have such a large group of people (50-60 or so) be as generous as giving as this one is something special, and makes this an event to not be missed.