I poured a 12oz bottle into a mason jar. It had an "Enjoy by" date of 10/17/13 and cost $3.45 ($0.29 per ounce).
Appearance: Hazy dark copper hue. Pours to an average sized, off-white, sudsy head which retains and laces well.
Smell: Mild aroma of earthy hops and some amber malt.
Taste: Stone Pale Ale is a beer I’ve wanted to review for a long time,
but haven’t been able to since every bottle in my beer store is always
way past its freshness window every time I check. I was shocked when I
found one that was still within the "enjoy by" date, though I’m pretty
sure the reason I find this beer underwhelming is due to the fact it’s
still pretty old by San Diego standards and probably wasn’t handled well
before I got a hold of it. The hops are faded, the malt is astringent
and it just doesn’t taste like a pale ale. Shame.
This beer actually reminds me of an extract homebrew I’ve made (several
of them, actually). It has a mild twangy astringency, not unlike
scorched caramel or toffee but without the sugar. An earthy, rustic
flavor of tree bark and pine needles, but without the actual hop
character. There is some bitterness on the finish, but it’s mild, which
is understandable considering this is just a pale ale after all. Still,
there’s not a lot of flavor here to enjoy and what is here I’m not crazy
about. It reminds me of a sorghum-based brew with its twangy character.
It’s not horrible, but it’s just not good. If I can get it fresh
perhaps I’ll re-review it, but as of now it’s a bummer.
Drinkability: While the taste to Stone Pale Ale leaves much to be
desired, the delivery does not. The mouthfeel is light, crisp, wet and
actually a bit refreshing for a moment. It does leave a slightly bitter
aftertaste, but it’s easily overlooked. For 5.4% ABV it seems to be
lacking a bit in body as this drinks and feels like something more
sessionable. At $3.45 a bottle, I wouldn’t recommend sessioning this.