Monday, October 7, 2013

Stone Pale Ale

2.9
   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 12/20
Chad9976 (984) - Albany, New York, USA - OCT 7, 2013
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. 
Grade: 4/10

5 comments:

  1. Good review and I suspect the limitations of both 90's brewing (the beer originated then) and a tired bottle showed up here. I was puzzled though by the comment of not having a fresh bottle: surely the larger beverage stores in Albany/Troy would carry Stone (and other) beers labeled well before their BB date? Not that it always matters, especially for stock ales/barley wines and Impy stouts, but I'd have thought you could easily get the main craft labels almost anywhere nationally in fresh condition.

    Gary

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    1. The only fresh Stone you can get on the East Coast is their special releases. Their regular releases are always old by the time they get here. I reviewed this one because it was still within the freshness window.

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  2. That's interesting, I'll have to check when next in NYC specifically on Stone - I do check on all brands I buy (where you can tell anyway) because it often makes a big difference to be as fresh as possible. I like Whole Foods on Houston but there's a bunch of new places too. Gingerman and some other bars sometimes get Stone (different brews) on draft.

    You made a good point about what could be a home brew-like taste. I find a lot of craft brews are like that, even some big names. In the big beers, IPAs and such, you don't notice it as much. But it shows up quite often and it could be simply that a lot of craft brewing has its origins in home-brewing!

    Gary

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    Replies
    1. the homebrew taste is from liquid malt extract. No brewery uses liquid malt extract in their beers.

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  3. And that's a good thing. The chemical-like twang (to my taste) of malt extract beers is not an exemplary beer taste although I recognize many homebrewers still use it as a convenience. I was referring though to something similar to what you wrote about burnt caramel. Nothing to do with porter, it's a malt type some beers use. Many people like it but I don't and this kind of taste is something that some malt extract beers reminds me of too. Hard to describe flavors though, even in the post-Jackson era... Thanks for the chat and will search out this beer, if I find it I'll PM some comments.

    Gary

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