Total Score: 8.35/10
This beer represents something special: Stone IPA, launched 20 years ago (I was still in high school at that time, I feel old now) it soon became the zeitgeist brew that grew immensely in stature on a certain website launched by two passionate beer-drinking brothers… you know the one I’m talking about – that site. So I’m going in to this review with a certain amount of reverence that will hopefully not become the folly of hype by the end of this page. However that’s hardly likely to happen with Stone “Xocoveza-Vertical-Epic-W00tstout-Americano” Brewing, those legends of San Diego (which of course in German means a whale’s vagina) who don’t seem to brew any bad beers, least none that I’ve encountered [yet!]. Anyway: My beer awaits.
Poured from a 355ml can into a nonic pint.
A: Hazy amber body, like the sun rising between misty hills at golden hour. With an off-white thatch-work half centimetre head that leaves a nice sticky lace on the side of the glass. This is a damn-near perfect looking IPA, one that Pale Ales hope to look like when they grow up. 9/10.
S: Aroma is a dynamite piney/caramel combo with a hint of dried apricot and citrus leading me further down the rabbit hole. Top-notch fragrance, quintessentially West Coast… hell this is the original West Coast, so of course the aroma matches the ambition of this brew. It’s got a touch of hop fade… would love to have this fresh (can date: 17/02/17 – that’s over 5 months old now). 8/10.
T: Big citrus bite upfront, full piney/earthy notes, broad caramel base, dried apricot hint leading towards an assertive, almost aggressive, bitter finish. It’s balls to the walls this beer! Rather than be overly malty as other brews I’ve noticed with hop fade this one appears to have fared a little better – it’s only a lingering bitterness in the aftertaste that ruins an otherwise impeccable West Coast IPA. 8/10.
M: Feel is good, it’s got a bit of (Johnny) Dep(p)th to it, medium bodied, and an almost German-like carbonation (i.e. not quite but almost creamy). 9/10.
D: I get this beer. It started a “Generation X” wave of brewing beers that were bitter, tasty, and all round a bit of a handful (or glassful if we’re going to be technical here). However I now look back upon these early West Coast IPAs as the age of beers that were challenging, and at times too much for me, and I look forward to the ever growing popularity of New England IPAs which strike a perfect balance between sweet/bitter – which is my favourite beer balance. Huzzah! 9/10.
Food match: Go for some spicy buffalo wings with this brew.