Monday, July 13, 2009

Stone Thirteenth Anniversary Ale

Perhaps thirteen is an unlucky number for some. But for Stone it is just another chance to break from the norm as their ever creative and tireless mission of challenging our taste buds and palettes to aspire to new craft brew heights is furthered with this latest celebratory creation.

Pouring surprisingly dark with a moderate head, number 13 has an unexpectedly bright and rich aroma that one would expect to see with a much lighter or amber colored beer. The taste brings a level of complexity and creativity that leaves you feeling inspired and in awe. The front end tingles with bright juicy hops that act like a quick sting before settling into the darker tannins of a more cascade like hop that is rich with hop flavor. A lifetime seems to pass as the hops evolve into a roasted, toasted grain, which asks like that beautiful librarian, who in your dreams is far more reckless and much less concerned with silence: "chocolate?" Finally, that sweetness turns bittersweet to give one last arrogant kiss before parting adieu.

What can I say? Stone is all growns up. Not only have they entered into their teenage years, they have become a force to be reckoned with in the craft beer world. Perhaps most impressive is their unfaltering dedication to the quality and consistency of their beer while recognizing the transforming world that we live in. Even their trademark novela, which adorns all of their bottles – and yes, I read every one – references the fact that they respect beer-o-philes' decisions to drink locally in a troubled economy such as this one. Bravo and mazeltov, hats off to you for this one Stone.

Thirteenth Anniversary Ale: *****

Friday, July 3, 2009

Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA

I was a little dubious of this beer having been relatively unimpressed by it's potency on tap at the LA CABAL craft brew fest a few months ago. Perhaps I went in with expectations too high, or I had too many beers that day to truly distinguish and savor this brew. But I walked away that day uncertain about this strange creation. So imagine my surprise when I popped the top on this beastlyness and found that Stone had knocked another wall down in the quest to reinvent beer. As you approach the body you prepare your palette for some crazy intense stout that will dominate your stomach and tastebuds. Instead, your tongue does flips when the weight of the stout is replaced by malt and the finish is replenished by fresh hop flavor. On second consideration, this beer offers a beautiful and unique hop flavor, that is half built on surprise and sustained on fresh, citrus beauty. An absolutely unique creation from the ever inventive Stone.

To be fair to the brewers, when Chris and I tried this we were about 4 deep, which explains the rather short review and drunken pictures. Writing drunk is tough!

Sublimely Self- Righteous Black IPA: ****1/2

Anderson Valley 20th Anniversary Imperial IPA

Crazy apples run abound in this 20th anniversary Imperial from Anderson Valley. A small headed, orange bodied Imperial, this beer impresses with its fine tuned taste and sweetness. The front end is like biting a sweet apple carried on crystal malt. The hops seem to hitch a ride on that malt train and raise their head as the beer settles and swallows into the palette. They are of the darker variety that settle underneath the tongue and mix bitter and spice to leave a lingering sensation of the sweet apple that started the journey. All that spice and sweetness lends itself to a good fall brew, but I wonder if the balance could have been more even. A well constructed beer, but I would expect a better name from this long standing giant among craft brewers.

Chris demonstrates a perfect pour.

20th Anniversary Imperial IPA: ***1/2

Team photo

Just made a trip to beverage warehouse, here's the loot.