Stone Brewing Co.
Stone does some of their best work in collaboration with others, and here they joined forces with Ecliptic and Wicked Weed. It’s peachy amber in the glass with a bubbly cream head. The nose is a lovely blast of yeast, fruit and hops, citrus and pine hops, stone fruit, and bakery malt. The flavor starts with candied orange peel with a sharp hop bite and a solid base of malts. There is only a hint of caramel or toffee. The finish adds something grassy as the fruit fades and the hop-malt blend carries on for at least a minute. 9.5% ABV
“A double IPA with 100% Australian hops…Ella, Galaxy, Topaz & Vic Secret” for Stone’s 19th anniversary. It pours gold with an orange hint and a medium foamy white head. The nose features a ton of complex hops, exotic citrus variants with resiny notes over a layer of crackery malt. On the palate? Hop candy mountain! The first impression is rock candy infused with hops, a ton of hop flavor and probably a ton if crystal malt. The hops are triple threat as the finish matches the intensity of the flavor and aroma hops. Sweetness flows through the finish too. It’s an ultimate hop bomb, and happy anniversary to Stone! Mind you, the 20th anniversary has come and gone, but this easily lasted the year. 8.7% ABV
This is definitely not meant to age, and definitely meant to screw up spell checkers. As it says on the neck of the bottle: “Dirnk Me Now.” It’s medium-dark amber with red highlights and a quarter inch off white head. There is a rich malty aroma with caramel. On the palate you get good mouth feel with more malt and caramel but also something that–if you could taste a color–tastes brown. Maybe some toffee. Up to this point, I’d hardly think this was from Stone; it shows very little in the way of hops on the nose and palate . . . and then the hops come charging in on the finish. So not much in the way of aroma hops or flavor hops, but solid bittering hops. Very satisfying to sit and sip this.10% ABV
This is from their Stochasticity Project, as much of a test of pronunciation as Lukcy Batsard is of spell check. “Medieval-style ale brewed with elderberries,” this pours chestnut brown with a moderate off white head. The nose is lightly fruity with a bit of barnyard and a hop note. The flavor is funky & meaty, kind of like barbecued beef. It’s quite bitter but from roasted grain more than from hops. The fruit is there but masked by the smoky grain, fruit like a glaze on ribs. Stochasticity Project beers are always interesting, but I won’t get it again. (Okay, I lied, I had it again.) This would be much better paired with grilled beef, like a burger or short ribs. It’s not so good as a sipping beer. 10.3% ABV Now finish your beer or I shall taunt you again!
It’s one of those names that can wrap around the bottle. It’s a strong ale by style, running amber to chestnut with a moderate cream head. There is a lively bourbon nose over solid ale malts. The palate delivers the flavor of bourbon and malt balls, with hops bittering and drying out the finish. It’s nicely mouth filling and mouth coating. It’s like a hoppier Backwoods Bastard from Founders, and both are excellent. 8.1% ABV
Another Stochasticity Project beer, this one tested–okay, trampled–the boundaries of taste in naming a beer. It pours dark amber with a slight yellowish cast reflected in the generous head. The aroma surprised me with a hint of smoke and then a ton of complex hops ending with a touch like honey. The flavor is led by piney hops almost like eucalyptus, moving into good rich multigrain bread with a bit of nuttiness. I’d call this a gulping beer because sips don’t bring out the full complexity that you get from a mouthful. At minimum, swirl it around to touch all parts of your palate. The finish is teasingly complex with little jolts of hops that say “take another hit!” I’d say the cover name of Grainiac does more justice to the beer than the original name, Colon Blow. You can see the original under the cover label. 8.5% ABV
4 Hands / Bale Breaker / Stone Sorry Not Sorry IPA
Let’s wrap up with another collaboration, this one a pretty amber with a moderate white head. It starts with a heavy pine & citrus hop nose, pretty much masking a rich malt, but hints of peach come through. Lots of malt lead the flavor followed quickly by a lemon peel bitterness. The finish smooths out nicely as a crystal malt sweetness balances the hops. Another collaborative winner! 9.3% ABV