Stone 16th Anniversary IPA - Beer Review

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Stone Anniversary IPA released August 13th, 2012 - Stone Brewery, Escondido, CA, United States

I make no secret of being a big fan of offerings by Stone Brewery. Arrogant Bastard Ale is a staple in my refrigerator, and their regular IPA and Ruination IPA are wonderful ales as well. But this special offering in honor of their 16th anniversary is truly outstanding and if you shove me hard enough I'll tell you why. Okay, okay, if you insist.

This iteration of Stone's anniversary brew is truly an extravagant beer experience. Beginning when the top is first popped and the surprisingly strong and deep aromatic scent of lemon is released like a playful spirit into the room, you know this beer is different. When first poured, as shown above, the ale doesn't develop much of head - true of most bottled IPAs, I've found - but the color is rich amber and much like a fine wine left to breathe, the nose reaches a pleasing equilibrium. The aroma is laced with lemon, yet it remains decidedly an ale.

Which brings us to the flavor. After the first fairly heavy waft of lemon I was a bit apprehensive the citrus would overpower the beer or worse, like some chocolate stouts I've had, the flavors would fight each other for dominance. With the first sip my fears were shoved aside. In this fine brew the lemon and hoppy ale flavors collaborate to create a smoothness I don't think I've experienced in any other flavored beer.

The chocolate stout example I mentioned earlier - when it's done right the chocolate and the stout blend such that they are inseparable. So it is with Stone Anniversary IPA. The flavor continues to unfold as you taste it. It is a long, luxurious cascade of lemon and ale, like the best of marriages each complementing the other to a satisfying finish in which the hops are more assertive, ending with just the perfect slightly bitter tang on the palate.

Typical of many bottled IPAs, Stone Anniversary IPA develops a thicker head for the second glass. An ideal evening of sharing a great ale with a friend would be two or three bottles, depending on taste and capacity. At 10% alcohol by volume, each glass has a tendency to make itself felt, and the incredible smoothness of this ale can have the effect of sneaking up on a person.

So enjoy, friends, and drink responsibly.

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