Over the years, Stone Brewing has very kindly ensured that I always have a sample of their latest hop-addled quaff to take for a spin*. That said, I have to risk sounding like an ingrate and question why in the world they'd present me with only one of their new Go To IPAs. If this is truly to be the next big thing in session beers, how can I fully evaluate it without sessioning it? Not only do I need about five or six more of these just to meet the barest criteria for a session; I should also probably have a nanny to tend after my kid and a masseuse to distract my wife for a bit to give this my full sessioning attention. I don't want to tell you PR people how to do your job, but—.
The Go To IPA is made with a process that Stone Brewing has coined "hop bursting," which, if I'm not mistaken, is an analog to a technique pioneered by Willy Wonka in the manufacture of his Three Course Dinner Chewing Gum. Should anyone sampling this beer bloat into the shape of a massive, green hop cone, please notify your physician.
This golden amber has a mild flowery aroma with notes of dried apricot. It's certainly not overwhelming, but after the Gainesfruit Slam IPA, my odor receptors might be a little blown out. The first sip likewise feels a little slight (especially when you're accustomed to the more overblown variety of IPA), but, soon enough, that all-too-familiar bitterness announces itself with pine and herbal notes up front and a sweeter orange-wedge finish.
The finish has real tenacity without feeling syrupy or oily, though it feels very thin overall. That's an admirable characteristic for a session IPA, but the IPA-fiend in me was hoping for something chewier.
This isn't the beer that my id would gravitate toward, but that's what DIPAs with 10-percent ABV or more are for. At 4.5-percent ABV, you'd be hard pressed to find a sharper IPA. Still, if I were planning a day of drinking, I’m not sure I'd reach for this versus, say, a solid pale ale. Stone Pale Ale, for example, is only 1 percent higher in ABV and, while likely more filling, has a moderate hoppy-ness that might be more pleasant back to back. However, I must acknowledge that as the years render me increasingly feeble, I probably don't have the liberty of being nonchalant about an extra percentage point of alcohol in the mix.
It's not the IPA
Gotham I deserve, but it's the one I need.
* If you're a brewery with wares for me to write about, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to cover your delicious beer! I'd even love to cover the disgusting beer, really. I'm that easy.