4.2AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
One of the most interesting things I’ve discovered since venturing into the world of beer-reviewing is the fact many beers can have a flavor that is reminiscent of a certain ingredient even though the brewer has not added it to the recipe. For example, many German wheat beers have a banana and spice taste, but neither are added. In the case of American India pale ales like Stone IPA, many taste like grapefruit, but the beer contains no juice whatsoever.
Stone IPA is packed full of flavor with a seemingly distinct taste of grapefruit. What’s odd is the beer’s taste is more accurately described as sweet than tart. Still, it’s a delicious beer even if it isn’t your usual IPA.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
Poured from a 22oz bomber, this beer flows a little rough but eventually evens out. It produces a bright orange/dark amber body which is rather hazy (although I didn’t see any sediment). The carbonation is low, and the head is well-proportioned, white, foamy and creamy. The aroma is to die for with a strong, sweet and yet light fragrance of flowers and citrus. The hops are just calling out to be drunk!
What puts some people off about IPAs is their intense hop bite, and even though Stone IPA is quite the hoppy it’s actually not as intense as you might think. Like any quality beer of this style the presence of hops is definitely noticeable immediately, but the beer finishes with a sweet, refreshing and slightly watery taste of citrus.
There isn’t much of a hop bite here; in fact, the flavor in the end is rather dry. The brewery’s website states it is dry-hopped for two weeks to get the extra bitterness. While I would agree that this beer is certainly bitter, I found it to be more sweet than tart. It has a candy-like taste which is very pleasing, and thankfully no sugary aftertaste.
Still, I was a little surprised this beer was more citrusy than it was hoppy, since it was crisp, clean and refreshing, rather than an all-out assault on the palate (hey, when a beer has a picture of a demon on the label, it’s rather ominous don’t you think?).
Stone IPA is much smoother than you’d expect. There is a faint dryness to the finish, but no aftertaste or scouring effect on your tongue. The sweet taste and slightly watery body make it very drinker-friendly.
The Stone Brewing Company has a reputation for making “bad-@ss” beers that are for true connoisseurs only. Although their IPA is rather heavy at 6.9% ABV and 77 IBUs, it’s amazing as just how light and easy this beer is on your system. This is a case where the numbers lie, since this beer drinks like something much more pedestrian and would work well as a session beer rather than a one-and-done drink.
I’d say this is definitely an outstanding beer and one of the best American examples of the India Pale Ale style. However, I think Stone (much like Rogue) goes to show the distinct difference between beers brewed on the East Coast versus the West Coast. If you want intense hop bitterness opt for Dogfish Head. If you want something lighter and sweet, opt for Stone – you won’t be sorry.