Saturday, August 6, 2011

Beer of the Week: the Stone IPAs

"Let me tell you guys a story: so this one time I was drinking 
beer and then the end." - the Beerinator

Hope everyone had a great IPA day on Thursday. Personally, mine stunk as my lips did not touch the pint glass until around 9pm. But I've extended my celebration into the weekend to show my support for this eventually becoming a national holiday.

Just in case some readers are even more of a brew novice than I, here's a crude and roughly abbreviated explanation of IPAs...or India Pale Ales. This variety of beer originated after British soldiers settled into India. Naturally they were thirsty and soon ships arrived from Great Britain with beer onboard. Unfortunately the beer did not travel well and was quite skunky after weeks at sea. So to solve this dilemma those inventive brits began shipping the ale with added hop flowers to keep it fresh on the long journey. The result was an ale that was extra hoppy and overall delicious. And the world rejoiced.

Your welcome.

The India Pale Ale is widely popular and is my favorite variety to drink. From talking to people and reading lots of stuff I've found most people who really like IPAs generally also like Imperial IPAs, or DIPAs (double india pale ales). Then there are others who like to throw in an IPA every now and then to change things up, only to cringe when things get a little too hoppy.

So as you read this just know that I enjoy india pale ales and get pretty excited with imperial IPAs. All that being said, Stone Brewing Co. makes a fine collection of IPAs. So I thought given the timing of Thursday's holiday and this post I would outline them. I haven't had the pleasure of all of them, so I'll note in bold which are from first hand experience and which are from reading reviews and word of mouth in italics

Also, I'm not a fan of everything Stone brews. The Arrogant Bastard Ale is mostly overrated if you ask me and happened to be the first one I tried from them. Given their prices I can see where many people (if they felt the same) would not try their IPAs. In many cases that may be a wise choice. With Stone however, that is faulty logic. Here's why:
  • Ruination - In a word, exquisite. Probably one of the best IPAs you'll ever drink. Maybe you've had IPAs where you felt like you were drinking a pine tree. This has that great piney taste but balances perfectly with the mellowness that all good brews have. Plus it adds a nice fruit taste (think citrus but too acidic) and a lemony aroma to round out what is a great drinking experience. You'll be forcing yourself to savor it rather than gulp it.
  • Cali-Belgique - This flavorful IPA poured a little eagerly; it had a generous head that resulted in lots of lacing on the glass as I worked through it. The taste reminded me of a toned down Invocation by Wild Heaven. Hints of spices and fruits that overpowered the hops. So that was a little disappointing, but overall I thought it was a good mixture of a Belgian ale and an American IPA. I would definitely enjoy this one again. 
  • Japanese Green Tea - Here's Ben's take: I've been a big fan of Stone Brewing Company in general for many years, but specifically their IPA, it's been one of my go-tos.  I had the pleasure of meeting the CEO Greg Koch at the Brewvival ( festival in Charleston in 2010.  He really has the game figured out...not only is he a nice, approachable guy who set up his brewery in one of the most beautiful cities in the country (other than Athens), but he also knows the value of collaborating with other brewers, including homebrewers.  I've tried many of Stone's collaboration beers (Highway 78, Saison du BUFF, etc...) and really enjoyed them all, but none as much as Stone's latest release.  The Japanese Green Tea IPA, brewed in collaboration with Ishii Brewing Co., who's owner used  to be a Stone bewer, and Baird Brewing Co.  After taking my first sip, I had to do a double take at the label to confirm that it was actually 9.2% ABV.  It's hidden extremely well.  The beer was not overly hoppy, nor was it overly green tea-ish.  It was a perfect blend of the two...the balance was amazing. I could drink four or five of them before the 9.2% caught up with me and knocked me out.  That being said, I must point out that I preceeded the Green Tea IPA with a COAST HopArt, and a Stone Ruination, so my taste buds could have been completely shot as far as hops and bitterness are concerned, so your experience may vary.  But as a self-proclaimed hop head, 70 IBUs was pretty much exactly how this beer tasted.  Not only is it a mighty tasty beer, but all proceeds from purchasing this beer go directly to the Japanese Red Cross Society.  So do like I did and tell your wife it's your civic duty to go purchase this beer to help those in Japan affected by the earthquakes and tsunami.  And if that isn't enough, the anti-oxidants in the tea are good for the ol' ticker.  Cheers!
Here's a video I found of the guys talking about the process for the Green Tea IPA. 9.2% ABV to add a positive frame to the 9.2 earthquake that caused so much damage, good stuff. Given the collection of flavors (hops from literally around the world), this is one I'm anxious to try.
    All of my experience with the Ruination and the Cali-Belgique I had from bottles, mostly bombers. If you find a place with Ruination on tap you must turn in your IPA card if you don't take a glass. 

    To conclude, if you're looking for the standard bitterness of an IPA, you can't go wrong with the Ruination which is easily in the double IPA range (DIPA) at more than 100 IBUs per bottle. If you like a little more flavor, throw one of the others in the rotation. Because you really can't go wrong with a Stone. And thanks to Fred and Ben for the background, suggestions and tasting notes.


      Anonymous said...

      Bernie, I've been a huge fan of Stone and had the opportunity to go on the brewery tour when in San Diego last summer. The Ruination is one of my favorites but the Arrogant Bastard is great too. Always love to see people discover it.

      Anonymous said...

      Ever try Southern Tier's 2X IPA? Great stuff!

      Bernie said...

      Thanks for reading...and for drinking.

      Yes, I really like everything Southern Tier does. In fact, Phin and Matt's is one of my favorites.

      j.leonardjr said...

      Ruination IPA is one of my favorites. Good stuff for sure.

      I also recommend Small Batch 471 by Breckenridge and Bell's Two Hearted Ale to IPA lovers. Steelhead IPA is really good too as is Hop Stoopid Ale by Lagunitas. Almost for Hercules Double IPA too!