A beer brewed not to last. That’s the theme for Stone’s latest brew, and it skips subtle branding and goes right for the jugular; it’s in the name of the freaking beer. Is this a bad business model? Brewing something with a short shelf life? Is that something to be desired? Apparently it works, because the guy in front of me walked out with six bottles yesterday. It’s been released to three markets: Southern California, Chicago, and my beloved home: The Garden State. Freshness is the theme here, and it’s a beer with very little in terms of bittering hops and an overload of aroma hops. Super Galena hop extract was used for the bittering end, with Simcoe, Delta and Amarillo used for the aroma addition. Motueka, Citra and Cascade were used in the whirlpool, and it was dry-hopped with Nelson Sauvin and Galaxy. Checks in at 9.4% ABV.
The head took a while to mount up on this one, maintaining a patchy, segmented stature for the majority of the pour until the very end, when it finally assumed a foamy, bright white position atop the beer. A pretty beefy chill haze was thrown on the body, so after wiping that away I could see what I’d describe as a burning gold color; orangey glow scattered throughout the body, but mostly golden, with a bright, transparent appearance and subtle carbonation. A riot of hoppiness awaits the nose. You could smell it from a foot away, really. It’s a cornucopia of tropical fruit; Very ripe mangos, pineapple, orange, passion fruit, cantaloupe, granny smith apple skins, all thrown into a melting pot of hop power.
And upon tasting, that’s all certainly there, but I’m absolutely stunned at how bitter this beer isn’t. Loading the kettle on aroma hops certainly seems to have given the desired effect. Don’t interpret this incorrectly, there’s a wealth of bitterness to go around from start to finish. There’s a bracing waxy smack up front as the ripe mango flavors greet the palate, revealing a center that’s filled to the brim with a myriad of flavors. And I’m so happy to say that malt is one of them. It’s still certainly driven by the hops, as you would imagine, but it’s less juicy and more biting, like the rind of an orange, or an apple that’s been ripe for barely too long. As the beer warms, those harsh ripe fruits turn to watery pineapple and cantaloupe, bit of mango and passion fruit, too. The malt comes up for air at times, quickly being beaten back down by the hops, but it’s still there, leveling things out and adding pinches of sweetness. The finish seems tame, but wait for it. It’s like a slow burn, as the bitterness will cling to the throat for minutes after your last sip.
The Verdict: Quite honestly, this is one of the most enjoyable Double IPAs I’ve ever had. The lack of assertive and overwhelming bitterness allows you to take in those beautiful hop flavors, while the other parts of the beer bind together to level things out. Punchy, potent, yet balanced. Brilliant and delicious.