Stone Brewing Company is officially 18 years old. It is now old enough to be drafted by the military and vote in elections, yet technically too young to drink. It’s not irony, but it’s close.
Completing another lap around the sun means two things for Stone: a new anniversary beer and the imminent arrival of their increasingly epic anniversary party (for which tickets are still available on Aug. 15 and 16 here). The party usually occupies center-stage, but this year that might not be the case.
In a town where aggressively-hopped IPAs are practically obligatory, I don’t really expect them to produce a double-take anymore. There are loads that I very much enjoy and plenty that impress, but few that summon a Keanu Reeves-esque “Whoa” out of me. So when I say that the Stone 18th Anniversary Ale is a monster, it really means something.
The press materials refer to this beer as “The Hoppiest Golden-Brown IPA on Earth.” That’s an oddly specific distinction since I could easily make the Hoppiest Green IPA with a dash of food coloring, but it's an apt description of the body of the beer. It reminds of the perfectly roasted turkey, which tantalizes my inner carnivore. The nose is assertive and dank, featuring lemons, tropical fruit and grass with the slightest bready note. Its flavor is no less aggressive. The hop presence mirrors the aromatics with a slightly more herbal tone, delivered with concussive force. It’s enough to make you overlook that it actually has a substantial toffee undercurrent adding a bit of depth to the palate. And somehow this assembly of flavors, likely featuring elements you've encountered in other IPAs, manages to sum up to become something unique and surprisingly tasty.
I know I’m gushing a little bit, so it’s important to point out that not every Stone Brewing Company IPA necessarily blows up my skirt. I thought the Go To IPA was an interesting idea, if not one that I’d go to again. I found the Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam IPA more chaotic than random. However, when you consider just how often they return to this style and still manage to excite and innovate, it’s definitely impressive. I can’t think of a brewery that has brought more to the style in recent years and that’s saying something.
The Stone 18th Anniversary IPA is not only a worthy tribute to nearly two decades of craft brew deliciousness, it’s a swaggering declaration that this veteran still has moves you’ve never seen.
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