Style: German Double IPA
Brewer’s Note: “Our latest anniversary beer, starring an all-German cast of malt and hops, is yet one more glorious example of a Stone IPA brewed outside the box. Our brewers have brought their experiments with German hops to fruition, leaving convention behind to create this hefty IPA entirely with pilsner malts. These provide a superbly crisp mouthfeel, while a unique mix of noble and new-school hop varieties adds layers of bright, bitter flavors. Despite the daunting name, this beer isn’t designed to bring about the end of the world, but it just might destroy some of your preconceived notions of what an IPA can be.”
The beer’s label, or rather the beer’s bottle, is classic-Stone in appearance. I love the funky, yet readable fonts, and the gargoyle is epic as always, though his face looks a little weird in its latest form. Clutter is nonexistent, and there is a whole lot of stuff written on the back of the bottle. It’s a pretty bottle that is worthy of the shelf, since it cannot be scrapbooked… Hang on to it. The beer pours a dark gold with orange and yellow highlights. A beautiful head of slightly creamy, white bubbles sits a finger’s-width above the glass and seems to last. The head leaves a sticky, tight packed lacing along the sides of the glass in sheets. In body the beer is clean of any particles or haze, with a pure translucence to it. On the nose, this beer starts to show its character. Right as the beer hits the nose you are struck with deep juicy fruit notes, mixed with candied hops and plums. Herbal, Noble spices touch the nose, but the thick, candied fruit smell is the big player here, and it is complex and just lovely on the nose. At the very back of the sniff there is a slight dank, earthiness to the beer, along with just a ghost of stale malt. The more you stick your nose in this beer, the more scents you pick up. This thing is layered and rich, and the Noble parentage of these new hops definitely shows itself as the beer warms, bringing more spice and grassiness to play with the stone and tropical fruits that are already whopping my nose. This may be one of my favorite smelling beers of all time. It smells like fresh hops and fruit.
On the tongue, the beer tastes initially candied sweet, but this mellows into a smooth, drying bitter that slowly bites down on your mouth. An alcoholic burn can also be briefly felt as the beer musters its way down the back of the throat, and a light bready sweetness can also be felt. The most surprising part of this beer is the almost tart feeling that the hops portray on the mid palate. In flavor, the beer begins as fresh, candied stone fruit with touches of grape must, sweet mango, and cloying alcohol. This flavor builds to a lovely crescendo of bitter pine and grapefruit, which reminds the palate that this is a Stone beer. The finish is incredibly long for hops, giving nuanced, fruity character as the bitters build into a proper strength. The only problem with the taste is the cloying alcohol, which hits mid palate and but then leaves. The aftertaste is pine bitter, but with an odd, yet pleasing flavor of maple syrup on the back of the throat. In the mouth, the beer feels thicker, sitting on the heavy side of medium with a middling carbonation that provides a gentle scrub to the tongue. The mouth is left dry yet full of saliva trying to cancel out the almost puckering sense of hops.
Overall, this is one of my favorite and most unique smells in a beer. It’s rich, it’s old world, its new world, and it is very pleasing. The flavor starts off along the same strain, but loses a little something to the cloying alcohol and the excess of fruitiness in this beer. This is a great beer, but I would love to see Stone do some tinkering with it and turn it into an extraordinary one. This is my favorite Stone beer so far.