I kicked off the other week by posting a special release from Stone Brewing Company. There I let my readers know I had two more bottles of special releases to get through from Stone. While I like to let my beers sit around for a while before I try them out, I was encouraged by a good friend to get to this one sooner rather than later. Therefore, I figured it had better be consumed sometime over the weekend. I try to not open a 750 ml bottle during the week. It seems more like a weekend treat for me.
As I said last time, Stone is one of those companies that is making huge waves in the world of craft brewing. Despite still being able to be called a craft brew, they definitely are one of the much bigger names that dominates the scene. 15 years of experience can only help you up your game. These guys have been releasing an anniversary ale every year for the past 15 years. The first few years they simply released an imperial ipa for the celebration; however, as the years went on, they began to branch out into different types of brews.
This year they have brewed a Black IPA for the occasion. Black IPA’s have really started to come into their own lately. The place where I work has replaced the 21st Amendment IPA with their black IPA. Maybe that doesn’t seem all that abnormal, but it isn’t really a beer place. Their other offerings are Schlitz, High Life, Miller Lite, and Brooklyn Pilsner and Brown. Personally, I really like the concept of the black IPA. It essentially combines the deep, rich, malty qualities of darker beers with the hoppiness of IPA’s. As a lover of both hops and dark beers, it seems like a perfect combination for me.
The pour on this one is an extremely dark rich black color. It definitely has a stout or porter consistency to it for sure, or perhaps it just reminds me of that. There is a nice build up of frothy brown head that develops on the top of the beer. It has some really nice layering to it. It’s very creamy in appearance. The lacing is very nice and plentiful on the sides of the glass. Swirling the glass results in a very nice reoccurrence of the head. There is some really visible carbonation in the beer despite it being so dark.
The smell is a really interesting blend of both the hops and coffee. I don’t think I was expecting to pull a whole lot of coffee notes out of this one; however, the coffee is certainly present on the nose. The hoppy floral notes are pretty obvious as well. Aside from both coffee and hops, there is almost a slightly pepper smell that comes out on this as well. I’m interested to see how that comes out in the taste. Additionally, there are some slight citrus notes that most likely also result from the hops.
The taste was not only really good, but also nicely surprising. Now, I haven’t had a whole lot of black ipas, and it’s been a little while anyway. So, I kinda forgot what I was in store for. The onset is really crisp and clean. There are some nice deep rich malts. Both the hops and coffee stay out of the start of the flavor. The hops come in quickly and have a very straight ipa feel. After the hops comes the surprising part. The coffee comes in heavy and hard. The hops, however, don’t disappear. It becomes a really interesting and delicious blend of both hops and coffee. The coffee flavor has a very earthy and woody feel to it. Also, there is a lingering heavy roasted flavor that lasts into the aftertaste.
The mouthfeel here has a really nice blend of the carbonation throughout the beer. Even though coffee and hops don’t sound like the most normal of combinations, it works together extremely well. None of the flavors manage to throw off the balance at all. It has an interesting ability to be both crisp and hearty at the same time. Additionally, the aftertaste, doesn’t leave any foul taste.
In the end, I guess I wasn’t sure what to expect from this bottle. I have really been enjoying a lot of different things coming out of Stone as of late. This one is probably on top of that pile. I may be ready to crown this beer my favorite of this year; however, I’ll hold off for a few more months. Thankfully, I know where to buy another bottle.
Teacher Grade: A+