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Monday, September 5, 2011

I'm goin' back to Cali- for another damn fine IPA from Stone Brewing

West Coast IPAs are quickly winning me over.

Harpoon IPA has long been my "go to" beer. Its a superb IPA- great hop aroma and taste, very well balanced by the malt, with a modest ABV- which, in my humble opinion,  makes it the ultimate session beer. And of course its brewed in Boston, which never hurts, as I'm a lifelong Bostonian.

Fellow east coast brewers Sam Adams and Dogfish Head likewise make outstanding IPAs.

But as I close out IPA month in this space, I must acknowledge that the west coast is making some damn fine IPAs as well. And as I look over the brief history of this blog, I noticed a glaring omission among the many great breweries mentioned here.

Where the f*ck is Stone Brewing, of Escondido, CA?

How could I neglect to include Stone in this blog! This is beer blog blasphemy.

I first discovered Stone Brewing while working a security gig. My job this fateful night was to watch the bar. As I sucked down sodas and "escorted" over-served patrons from the establishment, I noticed that all the beers on tap this night were from Stone Brewing, which I had never heard of before. I also  noticed a very attentive sales rep from Stone checking the taps every few minutes. So I did what any good, thirsty security worker would do- I talked up the sales rep. All night.  I ask him about Stone, where they were from, if the beer was good, etc.

Fast forward to 1am- the event is closed, venue is empty, and I've talked the sales rep into letting the security staff help drain the taps (can't let that beer go taste!).  We're drinking Stone Smoked Porter, IPA, Arrogant Bastard, and talking about how great it is to get "good beer" after a gig.

Fast Forward to 2am- After we offer to help him lug the empty kegs to his van, the sales rep is now literally giving Daupha and I case after case of samples from his personal stash of Stone. And he invited us to a Stone Tap Takeover the next day.

All in All, he made quite an impression, as did his beer. I've been a huge fan of Stone Brewing ever since.

Stone IPA
Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA
6.9% ABV, 77 IBUs

This beer pours a beautiful golden orange color, with a nice foamy white head.

Smell is citrusy hops, strong and vibrant, maybe grapefruity. The aroma actively seeks out the nose, you don't need to swirl the glass to release the aromatics.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich and creamy on the tongue and palette. A slight warming sensation from the alcohol is also detectable.

Taste is excellent- strong, bitter grapefruit hops (Columbus, Chinook, and Centenial Hops are used) come first,  followed by a light malt/yeast backbone to give a slight and unsuccessful attempt to balance off the overwhelming bitterness of the hops. Then a warm alcohol sensation and a very bitter but clean, dry finish.

An excellent IPA. Excellent citrus hops taste and follow through. A solid 4+ on my 1-5 scale. Almost sessionable, but the ABV (6.9) and IBUs (77) probably make it just a bit too bitter to be a true session beer.

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