We went to England this past spring as self-styled “IPA Hunters” on a mission to learn more about the confusing and often contradictory history of India Pale Ale – to look for some certainty where those before us have found mostly mystery and mercantilism. While our success in this pursuit is open to debate, there can be no question that we returned home inspired by the ghosts of Burton and by the experience of poring over 150-year old brewer’s logs handwritten in (India?) ink. Stone Brewing Co., after all, traces its lineage back to the British Empire’s brewing history: we make ales, and all of our original offerings used traditional British styles as a jumping-off point. If this seems a roundabout way of letting you know that, yes, we are in fact brewing another IPA to mark our Anniversary, well, so be it.
This one however, promises to be different! From the imported white malt to the “Burtonised” water to the rare yeast strain to the most pungent hops Kent has to offer, we used all British ingredients to brew our “Emperial” IPA.* While we may have brewed Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA with our own distinctively modern, San Diego-style touch, what good is history if you can’t rewrite it to suit your tastes?
In this case, our tastes called for highly intemperate quantities of Target, East Kent Goldings, and Boadicea hops, bestowing upon this dry-bodied ale a powerfully spicy, earthy aroma. On the palate, peppery hops assert themselves early and often, with malt sweetness making a brief appearance before being beaten back by a long, complex, and decisively bitter finish. What better way to contemplate the fate of empires past, present, and future?
*Um, except for our filtered Colorado River water, of course.
blazingspiral (170) - Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA - JUL 22, 2010
2.2 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 2/5 TASTE 3/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 8/20
As a long-time Stone fan, I really wanted to like this beer. However, I was deeply disappointed. This is the lightest-colored IIPA I’ve ever seen. Aroma was the best part, mixing bubblegum and spice in an intriguing way. The taste is a disaster, with the bubblegum flavor providing a sickly sweetness and chemical/synthetic essence, blending horribly with the herbal, spicy hops. Weak light malt does not balance the astringent hops. Alcohol is well hidden at least, allowing quick consumption so you can move on to something better. Sorry Stone, it can suck to be a teenager, eh?
mmmbeer (1202) - Austin, Texas, USA - AUG 16, 2010
2.1 AROMA 3/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 4/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 8/20
22 oz. bottle served in shaker- poured a somewhat transparent dull yellow/orange color, very foamy white head formed and laced very nicely. Aroma of straw, old gym socks that haven’t been washed in a month, and grape Flavor-Aide. Hits the mouth with a medium body, malt is there but has a lemon twist to it, middle has a sweet yeast taste to it that churns my stomach, finish is dry and not even as acidic as a regular IPA. FAIL. If you guys wanna go and explore- cool- do at and on your own damn time and make a beer worthy of an anniversary next year- not something very experimental and only appeals to a small, and dissident, market of beer lovers.
afireinside96 (923) - Mountville, Pennsylvania, USA - AUG 26, 2010
1.7 AROMA 3/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 3/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 5/20
Bottle served in a tulip glass. I don’t know where to begin on this one. One one hand it almost feels like the first time I had a sour beer and palate was simply not ready. On the other hand I just don’t think it was very good. Started alright, it poured hazy gold with a thin sticky head. Then came the sniff. Smelled oxidized, woody, sweet, medicinal. Not exactly what I think of when the letters I, P, and A come together. The flavor was very similar to that of cheap uncoated aspirin tablets with a stale woody quality to them. It was bitter with a thin and very dry body. Sorry Stone, just not digging this one.
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