Stone IPA - Stone Brewing Company, Escondido
I've never been a big fan of Stone's beer, but there have been a few bottles I've enjoyed on occasion so I keep bringing Stone beer home with me. I've been trying to pick my battles a little better, so instead of buying up one of each Stone beer (mostly because there are just so damn many of them) I'm sticking with the styles I tend to enjoy the most ...but of course there are exceptions, like this bottle of Stone IPA. IPA is hit or miss style for me, I think too many brewers just throw a ton of hops at a kettle and call it a day. That was my fear with this beer based off of some other Stone beers I've had before. So why's I make an exception and bring home a bomber of their IPA? Easy, it's got a note to Kansas City printed on the back. Beer drinkers are a fickle bunch.
Stone, one of craft beer's most outspoken and highly regarded breweries, recently opened up distribution chains in Missouri. The note on the back of this IPA bomber is full of Kansas City buzzwords like BBQ, fountains and cow patties. I hope the intern that wrote it didn't have to stay later than 5:05pm to get this label sent to the graphics guys. Seriously, it's a cool gesture and it got me to buy a bottle of beer I otherwise wouldn't have bought. How's that for effective marketing? I don't know if Stone does this for every new market they roll into but I do know St. Louis got a personalized label on their bombers as well.
Stone IPA pours a slightly hazy warm golden color and kicks up a fair bit of foam as you fill your glass. The head is suds and light, fading rather quickly but leaving a lot of lacing behind as it retreats. The aroma of this beer is a bit unpleasant... it honestly smells like a skunk got trapped in the hop bag Stone used on this beer. It isn't enough to make one no want to drink the beer, but the smell is unmistakable, as in... it smells like a skunk, but it also still smell like hops.
Thankfully, the Stone IPA tastes much better than it smells. For 6.9% alcohol, I was expecting a much more abrasive beer but this really is quite well balanced, something I don't say about many IPAs... and even fewer Stone beers. This IPA seems quite mellow at first when you get a sweet pale flavor as the beer moves toward the middle of your palate when it hits you with a nice hoppy uppercut. It's strong but not overwhelming at all. The finish of this beer is more balanced than bitter, but bitterness definitely plays a role in leaving your taste buds wanting more.
In the end, I'm glad I picked up a bomber of Stone IPA. It was much better than I was expecting, which shouldn't come as a surprise given Stone's success in the past few years. I'd recommend this beer to anyone who enjoys a solid IPA or is just acquiring a taste for hoppy beer. Stone IPA is an approachable India Pale Ale that is a refreshing departure from the "You're Not Worthy" image the company is known for.