Stone Brewing Co – More Brown than Black IPA

It’s actually been a little while since I’ve done a review of something coming out of Stone.  I’m fairly certain they may be the brewery I have reviewed most on this blog over the past year.  The most recent one I reviewed from them was actually a beer they did on their own: Vertical Epic.  However, I have also done a few reviews of beers that are collaborations: Cherry Chocolate Stout & Green Tea IPA.  I actually realized as I took this beer out of my fridge that I still have another collaboration from them that I have yet to review.  Perhaps that will find its way up here sometime soon.  I’ve said it before, Stone has to be one of the most active brewers out there.  They don’t just brew their normal line-up.  They brew special edition stuff, and they do a lot of collaborations as well.  I personally love to see brewers do collaborations, so I of course jumped at the opportunity to get this one.

Stone produced this particular brew with two other breweries I’m not really all that familiar with.  According to the side of this bottle, Ninkasi Brewing Co approached Stone about producing a collaboration brew.  I have had one other brew from Ninkasi; it was another collaboration they did with 21st Amendment called Allies Win the War.  If you haven’t tasted that one, you are definitely missing out.  Ninkasi is a good looking craft brewery out of Oregon.  Since my brother lives in Oregon right now, I have a feeling I’ll be asking him to bring me something from them on his next visit.  The bottle also tells me this bottle was brewed to support the area surrounding The Alchemist Brewing Co.  While this beer is helping Vermont out with the devastation they  experienced from the hurricane, The Alchemist also managed to get a hand in this collaboration as well.

Brown IPA technically isn’t a style of beer.  IPAs and Black IPAs are really big popular styles of beers; however, I have never heard of an IPA that is more brown than black, so I was excited to check this one out.  Black IPAs are quickly becoming one of my favorite styles of beer.  I love hops and deep rich coffee flavors, so I definitely can’t help but love Black IPAs.  I was very interested in seeing how a Brown IPA played off the qualities of the black version.

This beer pours out a very rich brown color.  I’m actually wondering how they went about brewing this beer.  Did they intend to make a black IPA but it turned out brown?  It’s a really dark brown so perhaps.  There seems to be a little slight red or orange tinge of color in it as well.   There is plenty of white fluffy head that develops on top of the beer.  It has some really nice light lacing and a lot of ample sticky residue as well.  You can see some very light carbonation in the glass, but it is definitely too dark to see any of the clarity in the glass.

The piney floral hops dominate the majority of the nose.  I think this is my favorite smell in beer.  I love chocolate and coffee and everything else that comes with dark beer too, but I really love to pull out those hops.  It has a really earthy feel to it as well.  The ample grapefruit and citrus notes are there; although, I think they hide a little bit behind the hops.  Interestingly, you really don’t pull out any of the malty sweetness you typically get with darker beers.  I’ve had black IPAs where you can smell the sweet coffee scents some, and others where you can’t.  It would appear this one lets all the hops do the work.

The hops kick the tasting off right at the start.  They aren’t really strong and overpowering immediately, instead they kick things off rather light and citrusy.  The second stage of hops comes in strong with some ample floral and pine notes.  These are far more bitter than the hop flavoring that started the taste.  The beer’s hops go slightly tangy right before some light coffee and roasted notes come in.  These sweeter roasted flavors are really light and toned down in comparison to the last Stone black IPA I had.  I can see how the brown aspect makes this a little different than if it had been a black IPA.  The beer finishes with a little sweet malty ending and a little light piney hops.

I like the overall composition of the mouthfeel.  The hops are ample at the start, and I really like the nice tang that comes in right before the beer goes to a roasted malty finish.  There is a lot of ample carbonation here, and it doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of syrup anywhere in the beer.  As with darker IPAs, I like how the beer manages to marry the sweetness and hoppiness in the ending.

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a beer from Stone I just didn’t like.  They produce top quality beverages, and they are always trying new things.  This is a great example of how collaborations can help to create something great, and introduce you to breweries you’ve never been able to try before.  I’m hopeful I’ll be able to find a few things from these other two brewers in the future. But for now, if you can find a bottle of this anywhere, I would recommend buying it!

Teacher Grade: A



  1. I had this beer a couple months ago and really liked it. I hail from the great metropolis of Eugene, OR, home to Ninkasi. It is one of my favorite breweries. If you are a fan of hops, they are the brewery for you. I also had the collabo with 21st amendment. It was a real departure from their usual style, but delicious nonetheless. I write about Ninkasi frequently on my blog if you’re interested in any more info on them.

    • I definitely want to check out more from Ninkasi for sure, and I really am a big fan of hops. Thanks for checking out the blog. I look forward to seeing what you have to say as well.

  2. Yeah, there isn’t much that Stone brews that I haven’t liked. This beer isn’t as good as their Sublimely Self-Righteous, but I’m not sure dark, hoppy beers can be brewed to be anything but delicious.

  3. […] but I have never had a beer that is fully their own creation.  I have had their collaboration with Stone Brewing and 21st Amendment, but I have never been able to have one that they brewed.  A couple of weeks […]

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