Drinking It All is a document of my attempt to try every beer in circulation. It’s a Herculean and tragic attempt at best. But it’s the means, not the end that counts here.
During our last trip to Atlanta a couple of weekends ago, Steve took us to Hop City where they sell homebrew stuff and tons of fancy beers and wines. I managed to spend about 45 minutes looking at beer before even starting to fill a buggy, and I came home with about 7 or so single beers (some in large bottles). Today, I’ve finally opened one of them up, and it’s one I’ve heard much about but never tried: Stone IPA.
Stone brewery is located in San Diego, and they’re pretty well-known in craft beer circles. You can read a little about them in Charlie Papazian’s Microbrewed Adventures book. I’m pretty sure I remember the owner of the brewery being interviewed in Beer Wars (which if you haven’t seen, you should, etc.). Other than that, I’m not much of a scholar on the brewery, but I figured I knew enough to buy a beer of theirs. And so.
This beer’s (like I said) an IPA, and the back of the bottle is, to paraphrase, not exactly modest about how they feel about the beer. They are proud, and the word ‘hop’ or some variation of it appears in one paragraph 7 times. Modesty isn’t one of their ‘strong suits’ and neither is subtlety either, I guess. So the beer should be hoppy.
And the beer is hoppy. As a 6.9% ABV IPA, it’s at home near the lower end of the strength totem pole, but the hop flavor could easily fit a beer with a higher ABV. The hop character of the beer isn’t so overwhelming though. It’s not at all the hoppiest thing I’ve had, but it’s getting up there. The taste is super hoppy and bitter, and the smell is hoppy (but to be honest, my nose is a little stopped up so I’m having a hard time telling just exactly what it smells like). The color is pretty light as far as IPAs go–since the ABV is relatively low for the style, the paler-than-many-IPAs color makes sense.
Tangentially-related side note: I’m afraid I’m starting to wear myself out on IPAs. It’s getting hard to be able to tell the difference between the many super-hoppy beers that I like so much. Neither my nose nor tongue is trained enough to recognize different hop varieties, and since that’s the case, I’m starting to wonder how I’ll be able to rank the different IPAs I try. (Not that the goal here is to rank them, but it’s at least kind of the goal, right? If I can’t tell the difference, then I should just stick to one and forget the rest. But then what if I pass one up that’s just hoppy enough to make steam shoot out my ears–see? How else do I differentiate the IPAs other than levels of hoppiness? There are ways, I’m sure, but I don’t know them.) And so I’m also starting to wonder if I should stop drinking IPAs so indiscriminately and adopt a more panoramic view of the beer aisle. Then when I periodically try an IPA, maybe I’ll be able to more easily tell what its prominent qualities are. And also, just imagine a panoramic view of the beer aisle. Yes.
This beer I like. Even though I might not be able to articulate very well why I like it (which, I know, then what’s the point of writing about it and expecting people to read it and actually get some kind of mental/gustatory sense of the beer if I can’t explain why I like it in fewer than 600+ words at this point?), I’m betting that if you’re reading this, you’ll be likely to take a chance on it. Also, look at the bottle. Fuckin’ gargoyle on it.
Thumbs up or thumbs down? Up. But don’t ask me why.