Latest haul – Total Wines in Henderson NV. I nearly cried at having to limit myself to these.
Stone Brewing Co. Stone Ruination IPA American DIPA at 8.2% ABV
Poured into a DFH IPA glass, a slightly hazy bright orange with two fingers of frothy off-white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap and heavy, chunky lacing. Nose is emphatically hoppy, pine resin and grapefruity citrus, but fruit and malt lurk in the background. Taste starts out with sweet malt rapidly giving way to pine and grapefruit, grassy and earthy. Mouth feel is medium to heavy, slick and chewy, with an intensely bitter finish.
Damn, that’s good! It really is a palate wrecker, but there’s a tiny bit of bluntness to the flavour. Truth is, I’m halfway convinced there’s some hop degradation there. I want to try a fresher bottle in order to see if the hops are sharper, but it’s pretty damn great as it stands.
Brooklyn Brewery Pennant Ale ’55 English Pale Ale at 5% ABV
Pours a clear medium copper with a short head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. Nose is caramel and biscuity malt, very faint hops, yeast. Taste is similar. Medium body, with low persistent carbonation and a mildly bitter finish.
A decent enough English Pale – nothing to distinguish it, but nothing offensive, either. I don’t regret trying it, but moving the remaining five out of my cellar might be a challenge.
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Double Jack American DIPA at 9.5% ABV
Pours a clear amber gold with two fingers of fluffy white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim and limited spotty lacing. Nose is tropical fruits, piney hop resin, and sharp citrus. Taste is mango and papaya, pine and citrus, perfectly balanced with medium malt. Medium to heavy and chewy on the palate, with a lingering resiny bitterness.
Really, really good. Nose and taste are pretty much bang-on dead nuts perfect examples of the style, with neither hops nor malt overwhelming the palate or distracting from the other. My (very minor) objections are aesthetic: I’d’ve liked better retention in the head, more lacing, and more sustained carbonation to lighten the mouth feel.
Stone Brewing Co. Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam IPA American DIPA at 8.2% ABV
Pours a slightly cloudy golden amber with three fingers of loose frothy white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim and spotty lacing. Nose is strongly citrus, grapefruit and piney hops, slight green apple and faint caramel malt. Taste is intensely bitter, huge IBU’s – gotta be, what, a hundred plus? – with a distinct grapefruit peel astringency and yet a subtle malt sweetness. Medium body, with mild carbonation and a dry, bitter finish.
Helluva beer. Hops first, and the grapefruit really supports without overwhelming, with just enough malt to provide balance – my kind of beer. Some minor aesthetic quibbles regarding carbonation aside, there’s not much I’d change.
Stone Brewing Co. Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale American Black IPA at 8.7% ABV
Pours a deep cola red with two fingers of persistent tan head, heavy lacing. Nose is piney and earthy hops with a hint of citrus, dark roasty malt, coffee and chocolate. Taste starts out with sweet malt but is quickly overtaken by astringent dry bitterness. Medium bodied and creamy, with a lingering bitter finish and gentle warming.
Wow – big and bombastic, sublimely self-righteous, indeed. Take all the best characteristics of stout and IPA, and combine. No caramel malt here, it’s all dark and roasty goodness. I don’t care if it makes me look like an amateur with the RateBeer crowd, I don’t see there’s any possible way to improve on this, and so don’t see how I can give this anything less than a perfect score.
Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd Dr. Thirsty’s No. 4 Blonde American Blond Ale at 4.1% ABV
Pours a clear straw gold with a fat finger of loose, soapy head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, minimal lacing. Nose is pale malt, yeast, hint of fruit, suggestion of adjuncts. Taste is similar, biscuit malt and weak hops, bitter finish. Body is light and watery, with moderate to low carbonation.
Boring, weak, watery, and bitter. Very little of the promised fruit, and nothing to recommend it. An awful lot like a cheap adjunct lager.
Stone Brewing Co. Enjoy By 07.04.14 IPA American DIPA at 9.4% ABV
Pours a clear golden amber with one finger of white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim and spotty lacing. Nose is huge pine resin hops and not much else. Taste is extremely mild, very little bitterness, and a sweet caramel malt base that isn’t apparent in the nose. Medium body and decent sustained carbonation, with an off-dry lingering bitter finish and a gentle warming.
This is the most mellow Enjoy By I’ve tried to date – which, let’s face it, is not necessarily what one looks for in a DIPA. As an aside, the hop profile is utterly dominated by pine resin, with no herbal or floral aspects – which is neither here nor there, but could be subject to personal preference. And it is one seriously sneaky brew: the large ABV is completely hidden by the softness of the flavour. This is a beer that pretends to be all sweetness and light, right up until it sucker punches you and rummages through your pockets for spare hops.