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Beer Review: Stone Brewing 12.12.12 Vertical Epic

Beer Review: Stone Brewing 12.12.12 Vertical Epic


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Despite the huge buzz surrounding its release and the numerological neatness of its name, Stone Brewing Company’s 12.12.12 may have gotten somewhat of a short shrift. As the last offering in the 10-year-long Vertical Epic project by the Southern California brewery, the Belgian Strong Dark Ale was first tasted by many as the final sip in a flight or tasting dinner. Even the most seasoned beer aficionados might find it tough to be discerning after a series of up to nine other Stone brews, all of which ring in at relatively high alcohol content.

Happily, 12.12.12 is now widely available on tap and in 22-ounce bottles around the country, and this reviewer had a chance to revisit the beer for a more memorable pint. Extremely memorable, in fact — this is an extremely intense glass of suds, and might even benefit from another year of aging on its own.

The beer pours a velvety black with a thick, beige-head. Scents of spice hit your nose before it even gets close to the glass, thanks to a heaping helping of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, orange peel, and rosehips (the last having been crushed with a forklift in order to pulverize them before brewing). "Nope, certainly do NOT remember this one from the tasting dinner," was our comment to the bartender who served it for our review.

Strong as the nose seems, the taste is not overwhelming or cloying, helped by an extremely dry finish. You can’t have an aversion to gingerbread cookies or molasses to enjoy sips of the brew, and the liquid lays heavy on the tongue at first, but after a swallow and a breath, no unpleasant aftertaste lingers. It’s surprisingly easy to finish your pour, especially if you pair the beer with a salty cheese or unctuous charcuterie.

This isn’t a beer you would drink every day, or even more than once a year, but as the finale in an unprecedented vertical tasting experiment, 12.12.12 is worth seeking out. Who knows, perhaps Stone will figure out a way to wrangle a 13.13.13 out of the calendar someday soon.

— Danya Henninger, The Drink Nation

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Stone IPA Stone Brewing

Protips: Explain why you're giving this rating. Your review must discuss the beer's attributes (look, smell, taste, feel) and your overall impression in order to indicate that you have legitimately tried the beer. Nonconstructive reviews may be removed without notice and action may be taken on your account.

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Notes: One of the most well respected and best-selling IPAs in the country, this golden beauty explodes with citrusy flavor and hop aromas, all perfectly balanced by a subtle malt character.

The IPA That Launched Generations of Hop Fanatics
First Release: August 1997

By definition, an India pale ale is hoppier and higher in alcohol than its little brother, pale ale—and we deliver in spades. Now one of the most well-respected and best-selling IPAs in the country, this golden beauty explodes with citrusy, piney hop flavors and aromas, all perfectly balanced by a subtle malt character. This crisp, extra hoppy brew is hugely refreshing on a hot day, but will always deliver no matter when you choose to drink it.

4.5 /5 rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Not much has to be said about this beer. An absolute classic. The perfect combination of pine and citrus with a bitter finish to round it out. Perfect example of what I consider a “West Coast” IPA. Out of the can or poured in a glass, always reliable and steady.

4.02 /5 rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am not a huge IPA fan so take that into consideration when you read this. This is a pretty good representative of the style, as far as I can tell with my wimpy taste buds. You can definitely taste the hops but it is not "copper penny in your mouth" level of bitterness though. It does finish nicely, I have to say. It looks fine and everything else is above average so I would recommend it to those who enjoy IPAs.

4.28 /5 rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I'm guessing this is what people are referring to when they are talking about West Coast IPA's.

Tropical fruit aroma and flavor up front with nice bitterness.

4.22 /5 rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Upside down printed 19.2oz can dated 02-04-21 best by 06-04-21. $3.29 at the corner gas station. With deals like this it makes me question the wisdom in paying $7-9 for a 16oz pint at a bar.
This couldn't look much better. Bright, clear golden amber with a tall, sticky white head draping lace all around. Small, lazy bubbles rise through the beautifully clear beer.
Mashed grain aromas mix with piney hop in a classic left coast IPA kinda way. Faint floral notes peak through along with a hint of honey on wet hay. Not as pungent and hoppy as when this was a smaller brewery yet still unmistakably Stone.
Good balance in the nose leads to an overall balanced flavor profile. Hop bitterness and character take charge but the malt sweetness is ever present.
Great medium bodied mouth feel with a satisfying and lingering hop bite.
This big batch, ultra filtered mass market edition is not as impressive as it was in 2002 but still a winner and a classic IPA.

4.16 /5 rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 fl. oz. bottle, courtesy of Cardinal Pub & Bar, Stavanger. ABV is 6.9%. Deep golden to orange colour, moderate white head. Lovely hoppy aroma, notes of citrus and tropical fruits. The zesty and fruity flavour is distinctly hoppy from start to finish, on a sufficient malty background. Ends in a grapefruity bitterness, but it is not overdone. Long bitter aftertaste. More to my liking than the Arrogant Bastard. Good stuff!

4.58 /5 rDev +8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

19.3 oz can enjoy by 02/25/21. poured into a 16 oz mason jar.

look: clear, orange honey golden amber, 2 inch retentive head with intricate lacing.

smell: light citrus pine, slight hops and bread.

Taste: the resinous piney citrus hops, combine with the malt and swim well together. slight sweetness, but the bitterness of the hops lingers a bit longer than any maltiness. nicely balanced. alcohol disguised well.

feel: medium low carbonation. full bodied (slight chewy i guess)

overall: A beautiful example of a balanced, not a juice bomb, west coast IPA.
if you are worthy or not, it’s recommended to try. I personally will have it in my rotation.

4.85 /5 rDev +14.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This beer is one of my favorites. Outstanding from pour to finish. Perfect head. Smooth finish. Year-round beer. Great for winter, not too heavy for summer (in California).

3.63 /5 rDev -14%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

L: Light brown to amber, quite cloudy. Darker ale color with a tall and tight bright white head.

S: Malty with hints of lemon, a pine forest backdrop. Rather dry yet appealing.

T: Surprising orange kick. Highly bitter but balanced by a malt finish. Citrusy throughout.

F: Medium to heavy mouthfeel that lingers at 6.9abv. One pint would be a load, somewhat oily.

4.5 /5 rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle dated 10/8/20 poured into a Teku on 12/16/20.

Pours a 2" creamy white head. Light amber, golden color. Nice sticky lacing.

Smells like pine needles with some dank, grassy, and citrus notes. Slight biscuity malt flavor.

A strong pine flavor up front gives way to bitterness in the finish. Nicely balanced hop and malt flavors.

Medium-bodied mouthfeel. Astringent and well-carbonated. Some oily, resinous stickiness.

Very delicious, well-balanced beer. The hop-heavy pine upfront is nicely balanced with malt flavor.

3.93 /5 rDev -6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Decent IPA at reasonable price, but harshly bitter for no reason. If you dislike the hoppy aftertaste, please not buy this. Better Alternatives: Racer 5 IPA, Firestone Union Jack, Russian River Mind Circus, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.
*Looks: good 1 finger head, golden/light amber, semi-clear
*Aroma: mild citrus, piny, hoppy, slight lemon
*Taste: Well balanced alcohol with significant hoppy aftertaste. I wish there was more maltiness as opposed astringent bitterness, which is a turn off for me for single IPA. The balance is missing.
*Final Verdict*: solid, good, well-crafted IPA but not the best. Harshly bitter, unnecessarily. They need to make this similar to the a single IPA version of Stone Enjoy By! That would make it better towards perfection.

4.61 /5 rDev +9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

The quintessential west coast/San Diego IPA. Defining the dry (for an ale) citrus/pine hop attack with oh-so light subtle malt making the perfect balance. 6.9% abv keeps it out of the heady range and if not exactly sessionable, much more so then ales only 1/2% to 1% higher can be. Reall y the standard by which I judge all west coast IPAs.

4.89 /5 rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

C: Golden, clear with a little haziness, excellent tight head that comes down to a cap. long lasting lacing that develops on each sip, and surprisingly not much carbonation (medium to slow rising bubbles) I was expecting more based off of the head.

S: Piney, resiny, citrus, slightly fruity, very hoppy smell, with a slight biscuit smell, smell increases significantly as the beer is getting warmer

T: Pretty bitter hoppiness with the hop and fruity citrus character upfront, followed by an increasingly malty, bready, piney flavor. Very accurate for an American IPA, 6.9%ABV and very unnoticeable. Really good for it's style. The Esters are strong in this beer.

F: Light, not much effervescence, yet not creamy, very balanced beer, with a soft feel not much sticking/ coating of the mouth.

Overall: This beer was Canned on 11/04/2020 and was 19.2fl oz., 6.9% ABV, 51ºF. This beer is very good it represents it's style very well and there is really nothing to complain about. I picked up a self-serve can for around $3 or something, the flavor is amazing, it is fresh, the smell and alcohol content is great and not overwhelming for being around 7%. Very great beer, I give it a 98.

4.78 /5 rDev +13.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance:
Pellucid, pollen gold under a slim head of fuzzy, whipped cream white. Low retention, stringy lacing.

Bouquet:
Mild Citra hops followed by fresh bread spliced with a passing thought of lemon rind. There’s a teensy tang of pine hiding in there and occasionally, a sprightly honeysuckle flits by like a hummingbird. Unlike most IPAs, the fragrance gains potency with time.

Feel:
Smooth and clean as marble with a nip of crisp carbonation in the linger.

Taste:
Like biting into a juicy wedge of hoppy grapefruit. A wave of pungent, earthy pine flows over it its advance slowed by caramel malt sweetness that abruptly ends, washing you up on a sunny, dry shoreline. still soaked in all the pine and grapefruit that tumbled you here. As you air off, mango, orange, and honeysuckle begin to chime in.

3.71 /5 rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from can to tulip glass a big 3F head of soft beige foam forms. Nice loose lace from the high point is visible as it settles slowly to a 2F head. Color is gold with about 90% transparency.

My nose detects faint pine and citrus hop, a touch of malt and not much else.

On the palate a soft interesting fruit note sits atop the light malt. The malt is moderated by the slightly bitter hops midway to the finish. Notes of subdued orange and grapefruit sneak through the hops which are pine and grapefruit pith in flavor.

Mouthfeel is lighter in body than I expected. Light carbonation adds some tang to the slight citrus notes. The finish is bitter and slightly thick from the light astringency.

This beer drinks lighter than the taste would infer. It has a good balance of light malt with aggressive bitterness that makes it appealing. It has more pine sharpness than Odell IPA but both are growing on me.

4.56 /5 rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A-deep orange, subtle haze, minimal head
S-Grapefruit and pine
T-Grapefruit and pine. Appropriately bitter.
M- Medium/full body for the style, Average carbonation. Pretty darn smooth. Clean dry finish
O-winner winner WCIPA dinner. Close to Sculpin in taste and mouth, just not as refined

4.15 /5 rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle a translucent orange with a small head.

Had a pine aroma. Malt and hops taste. Some fruit notes. Dry finish.

Light body and carbonation.

Nicely made west coast IPA

3.92 /5 rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

This is an exceptional beer. It is a very flavorful west coast IPA that is fully hopped and delicious. An underlying roast brings out the grain and hop. The feel is a bit harsh, but worth the drink.

3.92 /5 rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The 6-pack was packaged on 6/3/20, so just over 9 weeks old at the time of this review (on 8/8/20).

Aroma is orange - almost sweet, hints of piney notes accompanying. A light toasty aroma underneath.

Orange-amber color, with a chill haze, ample rising bubbles to a creamy off-white head with very good retention. Nice-looking disconnected lacing. The chill haze eventually dissipates to a clear amber color.

Taste has the citrus rind (orange) biting up front, backed by some floral and orange juice flavors. The floral appears mostly as aroma that accompanies each swish in the mouth. There is sufficient malt presence, toasty bread, to provide the needed balance, but clearly the hops are the name of the game with this beer. The beer is not bitter for the first sip or two, but the bitterness builds with each successive drink to become a quite bitter beer. The aftertaste lingers for a long while and is intensely bitter.

The beer has substantial body for the style.

Overall, a very good IPA, and deserving of its iconic status in the West Coast substyle. To my palate, the bitterness is most evident in the lingering aftertaste than in the flavor of each sip itself. The bitter aftertaste comes to dominate everything before you are finished.

4.49 /5 rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a beautiful cloudy yellow with a creamy white two finger head. Smells heavily of pine, earth, floral notes & hops. The taste follows the nose, very heavy on the hops, but ends with a perfect malt sweetness that makes you appreciate the bitter even more. This beer is so crisp & delivers a clean IPA taste. It goes down exceptionally smooth with its medium-bodied carbonation. This is by far in my opinion one of the best IPA's out there, it's not to heavy, but it's definitely full of flavor & a proper ABV.

4.42 /5 rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

popped a can to celebrate the 23rd birthday of the O.G. that launched it all. strong, pungent earthy pine and grapefruit hop up front and center. caramel malt sweetness stops to wave hello before surfing on by and leaving you on the beach with a clean dry finish soaked in grapefruit and pine again.

3.89 /5 rDev -7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I am no big fan of Stone's but I have to admit, this is a very nice IPA.

Pours a crystal clear brilliant golden color. Nice 3 or 4 finger head settles in then quickly dissolves leaving just a mound ring of foam along the outside of the beer. Not a ton of lacing is left behind.

Aroma has bright notes of grapefruit, pine, dried grass, and a bit of sweet light malt.

Taste follows the nose with notes of pine, pine needles and grapefruit, with again, a bit of that malt peeping through. So far this has been the "maltiest" of the beers I've tried over the last day and a half, but lets be honest, it is by no means a "malty" IPA. Pronounced bitterness tarts on the back end and lingers into the finish.

Feel is light to medium bodied, pretty dry throughout producing a coating sensation in the mouth.

Overall its a really nice IPA and a worthy example of the style.

4.27 /5 rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

An easy pour yields two fingers of eggshell white, creamy and soapy foam that lasts and turns lumpy.
Clear orange-straw color, yellow gold in bright light. Stick sagging arches of lacing.

Piney hops greats the nose with grapefruit and toast, pale malt and residual yeast in the background. Alcohol is noticeable from a deep inhale.

Semi-dry with high bitterness. Salty and spicy piney bitterness dominates the taste. The grapefruit is now a light general citrus taste, almost sour adding zero sweetness. There is a sturdy malt backbone that keeps the dryness in check.
The finish is lengthened by the bitterness, the malt and citrus drop off. The aftertaste lingers on, hoppy and bitter.

Medium-light bodied, busy abundant carbonation. It would be smooth if not for the bitterness. The alcohol is warming yet it does not get to big as the Beer warms. Not quite session-able but by no means a sipper. West Coast all the way.

3.65 /5 rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Leah and I are wondering if this comes from an old keg. Salty and lemon up front. Dry finish. Average IPA to us. Had at Annie Bailey's Irish Pub in Lancaster, PA

3.36 /5 rDev -20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

330ml can: Very hoppy and bitter flavour with a dry finish. You can almost taste the alcohol in a not so pleasant way imo and just a bit too heavy (almost harsh) for my taste.

1.88 /5 rDev -55.5%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

let be totally honest ..I am not a fan of IPAs but wanted to give this one a try. I must say it was very hard to finish. i had to force it down. I hate giving poor ratings and to be fair if i was an IPA fan this might have been a great beer. I will stick to Stone lagers


Urban Beer Nerd

This week Stone Brewing Co. shipped the third batch of its Enjoy By IPA to 10 states, and beer nerds everywhere—well, beer nerds in or around those 10 states—scrambled to grab a few bottles before it disappears. (I picked up six bottles on Tuesday, November 20, the day it hit Boston. I drank three bottles over the past few days, and I have three more in my refrigerator.)

The idea behind Stone’s Enjoy By IPA—all three batches were made with the same recipe—is to use extremely fresh ingredients and then get the beer into customers’ hands as soon as possible after it’s bottled, to demonstrate just how important freshness can be to beer. The date in the name, in this case 12.21.12, is the date by which the beer is supposed to be at its best.

So does Stone’s Enjoy By 12.21.12 double IPA live up to all of the hype? Yes…with a few caveats.

Stone puts a lot of love and care into every single beer it brews, and Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA is no exception. What sets this big ol’ double IPA apart is that Stone supposedly brewed it “specifically NOT to last.” I’m not really sure what that means, and Stone hasn’t said. I’m guessing it just means it’s not pasteurized and doesn’t have any preservatives, but that’s not exactly rare IPAs and hoppy beers are generally better when they’re fresh, and the best don’t have preservatives. Stone’s definitely not the only brewer to stress this fact, either. Russian River Brewing Co., maker of Pliny the Elder, one of my favorite IPAs, prints instructions to consume the beer as soon as possible on every bottle. And the majority of craft beer today has bottling dates, though it’s usually printed in barely-noticeable, small text and not mentioned in the name of the beer.

Anyway, on to my Stone Enjoy By 12.21.12 review.

Stone Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA is available in 22-ounce bottles and on draft. I vigorously poured my bottle into a tall Stone Arrogant Bastard glass, and it formed a thick ivory-colored head of fine bubbles. The ale itself is golden with amber hues.

One of my favorite things about this beer is its smell. It stinks, in a good way. The aroma is truly amazing. It smells of sticky, pungent hops and mild alcohol. I enjoyed smelling this beer as much as I did drinking it.

The beer is extremely crisp and clean at first, as you might expect from such a fresh brew. The initial taste is malty and refreshing, followed by a serious hop smack in the face. It has a notable “dank” marijuana-like taste. This is one seriously hoppy and bitter brew. It’s also surprisingly drinkable for a 9.4%ABV double IPA. You only get a slight warming alcohol flavor.

The intense hop flavor is a result of some ridiculous hopping during the brewing process. Stone literally used 11 different types of hops: Calypso Super Galena (extract) Simcoe, Delta, Target, Amarillo, Motueka, Citra, Cascade Nelson Sauvin and Galaxy. I can’t think of another IPA with so much hop variety. And it shows.

My bottles cost $10 each, which isn’t cheap, but I don’t feel burned.

I was genuinely impressed by Stone’s Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA…but something rubs me the wrong way about the whole presentation. It feels like a marketing gimmick, and I don’t like feeling as though I’m being sold something other than a really fresh beer. The craft beer world is full of weird gimmicks right now, and I understand why. The market is extremely competitive, and brewers will do just about anything to differentiate themselves from competitors. But I guess I kind of expect more from Stone.

Again, this Enjoy By IPA is a great beer, so I’m not trying to knock Stone. At the same time, I bet it will taste just fine in a couple of months—maybe not as good as it does today, but it’s not as if the brew will spoil or something. Stone doesn’t need to convince me to drink its beers with marketing gimmick. It has already earned my respect through quality brewing.

Stone’s Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA gets a 9 out of 10 on the Urban Beer Nerd Scale. (It currently has a BeerAdvocate.com score of 94/100 based on 111 users reviews.)

Check out the above video or visit Stone’s website for more details. (And read my recent list of noteworthy IPAs all hop lovers should drink at least once for more recommendations on awesome hoppy brews.)


Stone Brewing Co. Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA Review

This week Stone Brewing Co. shipped the third batch of its Enjoy By IPA to 10 states, and beer nerds everywhere—well, beer nerds in or around those 10 states—scrambled to grab a few bottles before it disappears. (I picked up six bottles on Tuesday, November 20, the day it hit Boston. I drank three bottles over the past few days, and I have three more in my refrigerator.)

The idea behind Stone’s Enjoy By IPA—all three batches were made with the same recipe—is to use extremely fresh ingredients and then get the beer into customers’ hands as soon as possible after it’s bottled, to demonstrate just how important freshness can be to beer. The date in the name, in this case 12.21.12, is the date by which the beer is supposed to be at its best.

So does Stone’s Enjoy By 12.21.12 double IPA live up to all of the hype? Yes…with a few caveats.

Stone puts a lot of love and care into every single beer it brews, and Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA is no exception. What sets this big ol’ double IPA apart is that Stone supposedly brewed it “specifically NOT to last.” I’m not really sure what that means, and Stone hasn’t said. I’m guessing it just means it’s not pasteurized and doesn’t have any preservatives, but that’s not exactly rare IPAs and hoppy beers are generally better when they’re fresh, and the best don’t have preservatives. Stone’s definitely not the only brewer to stress this fact, either. Russian River Brewing Co., maker of Pliny the Elder, one of my favorite IPAs, prints instructions to consume the beer as soon as possible on every bottle. And the majority of craft beer today has bottling dates, though it’s usually printed in barely-noticeable, small text and not mentioned in the name of the beer.

Anyway, on to my Stone Enjoy By 12.21.12 review.

Stone Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA is available in 22-ounce bottles and on draft. I vigorously poured my bottle into a tall Stone Arrogant Bastard glass, and it formed a thick ivory-colored head of fine bubbles. The ale itself is golden with amber hues.

One of my favorite things about this beer is its smell. It stinks, in a good way. The aroma is truly amazing. It smells of sticky, pungent hops and mild alcohol. I enjoyed smelling this beer as much as I did drinking it.

The beer is extremely crisp and clean at first, as you might expect from such a fresh brew. The initial taste is malty and refreshing, followed by a serious hop smack in the face. It has a notable “dank” marijuana-like taste. This is one seriously hoppy and bitter brew. It’s also surprisingly drinkable for a 9.4%ABV double IPA. You only get a slight warming alcohol flavor.

The intense hop flavor is a result of some ridiculous hopping during the brewing process. Stone literally used 11 different types of hops: Calypso Super Galena (extract) Simcoe, Delta, Target, Amarillo, Motueka, Citra, Cascade Nelson Sauvin and Galaxy. I can’t think of another IPA with so much hop variety. And it shows.

My bottles cost $10 each, which isn’t cheap, but I don’t feel burned.

I was genuinely impressed by Stone’s Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA…but something rubs me the wrong way about the whole presentation. It feels like a marketing gimmick, and I don’t like feeling as though I’m being sold something other than a really fresh beer. The craft beer world is full of weird gimmicks right now, and I understand why. The market is extremely competitive, and brewers will do just about anything to differentiate themselves from competitors. But I guess I kind of expect more from Stone.

Again, this Enjoy By IPA is a great beer, so I’m not trying to knock Stone. At the same time, I bet it will taste just fine in a couple of months—maybe not as good as it does today, but it’s not as if the brew will spoil or something. Stone doesn’t need to convince me to drink its beers with marketing gimmick. It has already earned my respect through quality brewing.

Stone’s Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA gets a 9 out of 10 on the Urban Beer Nerd Scale. (It currently has a BeerAdvocate.com score of 94/100 based on 111 users reviews.)

Check out the above video or visit Stone’s website for more details. (And read my recent list of noteworthy IPAs all hop lovers should drink at least once for more recommendations on awesome hoppy brews.)


From The Cellar: Stone Vertical Epic 06.06.06

“As with any good epic, herein lies the promise of larger-than-life experiences, heroics, and twists & turns as the adventure unfolds. This bottle conditioned ale is chapter 5, and is specifically designed to be aged until sometime after December 12th, 2012. Provided you can wait that long.”

Stone Vertical Epic 06.06.06
Belgian Strong Dark Ale, 8.66% ABV

Karl: Okay, so we’ve occasionally gone a little Stone-happy here at Guys Drinking Beer headquarters (aka Ryan’s living room). Just take a peek at the size of that Stone tag to the left over there. It’s huge. But longtime listeners, first time callers know that we started this whole thing a few months ago when Stone came to town so I think we were a little justified. That said, when Ryan breaks out a bottle of anything of theirs nowadays I kinda hesitate for a second. Except for the Vertical Epic series. Hoo-boy.

Considering that they made these to last for just-about-ever and Ryan has been holding off on this one for years, it’s worth diving into – since the next time we get our mitts on one of these it’s going to be another few years from now. So let’s do it.

This Belgian Strong Dark Ale is a mouthful in name alone, and the followthrough from the beer is equivalent. In the bottle the scent is probably best described as “earthy” – even on the nose there’s richness, there’s depth, there’s a certain sense of soil or moss or something else that’s dark and hefty and possibly full of allergens. Like nature.

It pours as dark as you would imagine off of the nose, with a light khaki head and just a touch of light lacing up the glass. The aroma develops raisins and dates as it breathes and gets a little fruity – even somewhat fruitcake-esque. The taste itself is intense, complex, and extremely satisfying. Starts lightly with coffee and chocolate, and give it just about 15 seconds and it develops a nice nutty flavor to round out the experience. Surprisingly, even though the ABV is about 8.6% it’s very restrained and not overly sharp with alcohol. A very well balanced, pleasurable drink that has no doubt mellowed over the years but still has a lot to offer – and will no doubt get even richer by the next time we crack one open.

Ryan: I really wanted to hold off until Stone’s VE 12.12.12 was released to crack this one open. Really, I did. But it kept calling me from inside the cellar to sample it at the four year mark. So, we did.

The VE 06 pours dark as night with just a bit of tan head. So far it’s everything I expected.

The nose is what caught me off guard. It’s very…complex toasted malts, a bit of funk, some wet grass, dark chocolate and chocolate covered cherries. Tons going on here.

Big time flavor with this beer too. Coffee to start, which fades and makes way for some dark cherries, fruit cake, and a bit of tart funk. The beer finishes solid with some dark chocolate.

This beer has held up very well and I am eager to crack open my last bottle when we do a mini epic, 06 -12, in a few years.

Andrew: We here at Guys Drinking Beer love Stone (as do most of you), so when Ryan said we had an 06.06.06 waiting for us I was downright giddy. It poured with a very light head that dissipated very quickly with lots of malty earthiness in the nose.

A fantastically smooth beer that starts out with hints of chocolate and coffee, moving to a fruity spiciness and finishing with a nutty oakiness on the back-end. This beer was all over the place, and I liked it.


The Beermonger Review: Saison du BUFF (Updated w/all 3 versions)

Yeah, I know…where the hell have I been?

Well, it’s been a little bit hectic in ‘Mongerland lately. I recently changed jobs somewhat unexpectedly in June, followed by (1 week later in fact) moving to a new place. So to say I’ve been busy is a way of putting it. Adjusting to the new job has been good and I’m enjoying it a lot but it does take some time, hence the extended absence. Apologies.

I’ve got a bit of a backlog of beers that I’ve had over the past couple of months and some things I’m excited to write about. I’ll be trying to get to these over the next few weeks. For now, I’m kicking back watching the Redskins first preseason game and trying out Dogfish Head’s version of the ‘Mother of all Collaboration’ special beer Saison du BUFF.

A bit of background: Saison du BUFF started with an alliance of three of the baddest beer-brewing mofos in America back in 2003, as Stone Brewing Co boss Greg Koch, Dogfish Head madman Sam Calagione and Victory badass Bill Covaleski formed the Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor (BUFF) alliance. The point was not just to increase promotion of honest, outstanding craft beer to us dirty, unwashed masses yearning to drink free of multimillion dollar bullshit and fizzy yellow beer, but to ensure fair treatment and respect for small craft brewers from distributors and proper placement for those beers in retailers, bars and restaurants everywhere.

Earlier this year, the boys met up at Stone’s North County San Diego brewery to create a special beer as a thanks to all of us unworthy Bastards. The concept is simple: One beer to be brewed at all three breweries, using the same recipe and ingredients. The end product is a Saison clocking in at 6% ABV, brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

I tried a bottle of the Stone version a few weeks back (during my hiatus) and am currently drinking the Dogfish version. I’m going to crack my second bottle of the Stone (forgot it was in there!) to get a fresh impression and compare.

What’s that you say? How can there be a comparison? It’s the same beer, with the same recipe and ingredients! Well, you have a point. But it’s not quite that simple. Let’s get to it:

Saison du BUFF Comparo, Part 1, or: Identical Cousins, Two of a Kind!

Stone Saison du BUFF

We’re gonna call this v.1. Poured with a quick to rise, quick to fall foamy head. The aroma is sharp, with herbal notes and a hint of citrus character that you’d normally see in a Hefeweizen. First impression on the palate is bright herbs and some hoppy acidity. The combination of herbs used almost makes v.1 seem like a Pale Ale with some dry-hopped character. Drinkable but complex Saison du BUFF takes you for a bit of a ride leading to a finish with lingering ‘hop’ flavor and a subtle building heat, almost like a good red table wine (Chianti, a proper Merlot, Cotes du Rhone). I could see some great seafood pasta dished playing well with this, or a nice shaved turkey on rye or kickass veggie sandwich. Wish I had more.

Dogfish Saison du BUFF

The first impression came from merely opening the bottle. The cap gave way with a decidedly loud POP. As I poured the last of the bottle, it seemed to develop a foaming head that just wanted to run right out of the top of the glass. I described it on Twitter as being ‘active’ it had playful, hyperactive bubbles and a nose that seemed hoppier, hotter and all-around less subtle than the Stone.

The palate is where I really started noticing some differences. To me, the Dogfish version (from here on referred to as v.2) presented itself as more of a traditional Saison with its round feel and slightly grainier, yeastier character. It’s very drinkable, like v.1, but I think more so because of how the herbs seem to be more integrated.

On my palate the difference seems to be almost like using fresh versus dried herbs. The dry stuff is sharp, intense and uncompromising in pureness of its character. Fresh herbs are muted, earthy and easier on the nose and tongue. Try eating a basil leaf sometime, then try eating a pinch of dried basil. You’ll see what I mean.

The point being (I hope) that v.1 is much more the ‘dried herb’ take on Saison du Buff, where v.2 has the lusher, more subtle ‘fresh herb’ notes. Which of course is odd, since they’re the same beer made with the same ingredients. The only difference is where they’re made. It’s fascinating to me that they show like this, but if I paint with some broad strokes it makes some sense: You’d expect a West Coast beer to have a sharper palate and some lingering heat. The herbs in v.1 give a simulation of a lingering lupulin ‘burn’, which is very cool. By the same token, it makes total sense to see something from the East Coast being earthier and rounder.

Where the collaboration comes through for me, then, is in the aromas. The v.2 nose is so intense and hot which you might expect from, say, an intensely hoppy beer from Stone. V.1 more subtle but still complex something that screamed Dogfish Head to me.

If I had to pick one, I’d go for v.2. I think the Saison character and earthiness play beautifully here. But honestly they’re both amazing beers, more than worth your time and attention. Track them down if you can.

Before anyone points it out: Yes, I know I haven’t mentioned Victory. I’m waiting for their version to come out. When it does, I’ll sit down and we’ll see how v.3 compares to 1 and 2. I can’t wait to pick all three of these apart and see what I find.

Update! Victory Saison du BUFF:


So now that I’ve had the Victory version of the beer (let’s call it V.3), let’s wrap this up and call it a full set.

If I had to sum it up as succinctly as possible, I’d say V.3 is ‘just right’. It’s not as dramatic as the Stone or Dogfish beers but it strikes a great balance that makes it the most drinkable of the bunch. Remarkably the last bottle I had, having been in the fridge for a few days, presented itself as being very Pils-like while still very cold. All that herbal element at a very cold temperature makes for a very focused but subtle hop-like note. As it warmed up a bit the basil-ness of the beer came out like it did on the first two. V.3 is the one of the three I’d give to an uninitiated craft beer drinker if they were curious about the beer it’s so balanced and easy going that I can see almost anyone enjoying it.

So did I have a favorite? I don’t think I do. I really did dig all three. Each had something that made it stand out, yet they all shared a unique recipe that combined the absurd with the comforting with the sublime. I say if you can get a hold of any Saison du BUFF, get on it.


Stone Brewing Buenaveza

“Lime explodes from the glass you can taste the salted rim before a drop hits your lips. Margaritaville: full-on assault of lime and salt. A bit watery. Leans unbalanced—more lime juice than beer. Impression of pouring lager into remnants of a margarita pitcher.”

What our editors thought

“Salt and lime guide the nose earthy, corn tortilla–like sweetness sells the theme. Just when you expect a caricature, the sip delivers restrained saline-and-citrus expression that’s nuanced, genuine, and beer-forward.”

REVIEWS FOR YOU >

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The best new craft beers available in a beer store near you. Sponsored content.

Firestone Walker Nectaron IPA

From Firestone Walker’s Propagator R&D brewhouse in Venice, California, comes Nectaron IPA—the next release in the single- hop Propagator Series, available exclusively in the latest Crafted Thru Hops mixed pack. Nectaron is an emerging hop from New Zealand, first championed by brewmaster Matt Brynildson during his travels to experimental plots in the famed Nelson region. Now comes Firestone Walker’s inaugural beer brewed with Nectaron, showcasing its juicy, tropical flavors of passion fruit, pineapple, and citrus.

Two Roads Brewing Company Tanker Truck Sour Series: Pineapple Mango Gose

Two Roads is driving a tanker truck down the road less traveled with this Pineapple Mango Gose. We kettle soured this ale in our own tanker truck trailer—a former milk tanker that’s parked on the grounds of our brewery. Pineapple Mango Gose has a rich blend of tropical fruits with notes of pineapple, mango, and guava. With pleasing tartness, it’s a tropical twist on a refreshing gose.

Founders Brewing Co. All Day Vacay

You’re going to need a bigger suitcase—All Day Vacay has arrived. Take a well-earned respite from the mundane and let this session wheat ale whisk you away with its slight, summery sweetness—complemented by delicate notes of citrus. Whether it’s a staycay or vacay, it’s the perfect companion for any type of adventure.

Firestone Walker Double Mind Haze

Let your mind wander into Double Mind Haze—Firestone Walker’s juiciest, fruitiest, and haziest IPA ever, made for the maximum in tropical hop character. In the words of brewmaster Matt Brynildson, “Double Mind Haze is a carefully crafted next step in our long and rewarding journey through the hop world and IPA brewing. We challenged ourselves to create luscious textures and to ultimately deliver all of the hedonistic flavor you could ever want from a hazy IPA.”

Melvin Brewing Back in Da Haze

Melvin’s hopalicious take on the haze bomb, this crushable 6.5 percent ABV IPA is made with flaked oats and wheat for that soft, pillowy mouthfeel, then loaded with Sabro, Mosaic, and Citra hops to create a tropical Dreamsicle blend of flavors. Pick up a fresh six-pack and go Back in da Haze!

Area Two Experimental Brewing Pineapple Sour D

Pineapple Sour D Hazy Hemp IPA is a hazy, juicy IPA brewed with pineapple, hemp hearts, and terpene extracts packed together for a brew that’s a total trip! Dank terpene aroma greets the palate and is followed by a hazy cloud of tart pineapple balanced by a soft, kushy mouthfeel and smooth hop bitterness. A heady brew you can crush til it’s cashed!

Melvin Brewing Pilsgnar

Pilsgnar is the perfect beer for your next outdoor excursion. It’s luminous gold in color, and we use a blend of two-row and pilsner malts, then dry hop it Melvin-style with Saphir, a newer German hop with notes of orange candy and jasmine tea. Shred it!

Founders Brewing Co. Más Agave Premium Hard Seltzer Lime

Más Agave Premium Hard Seltzer Lime is a refreshing foray into the future made with blue agave nectar, natural cane sugar, real fruit juice, and a dash of sea salt for good measure. The bold citrus flavor of lime lends a surprising kick.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Dankful

We’ve committed at least $1 million in donations through Dankful in 2021. A better tomorrow is why we brew Dankful, a resinous West Coast IPA that supports nonprofits standing up for social equality, economic well-being, and environmental protection. Through this philanthropic pledge, we work with nonprofit partners dedicated to moving our communities forward. We’re Dankful for that. Rather than making donations contingent upon Dankful sales success, we’ve committed to at least $1 million in donations over the next year, which will be supported in part by Dankful sales.

Two Roads Brewing Company HAY-Z-BOY

Boy, oh boy, we’ve created one hazy, juicy IPA! Hay-Z-Boy is a 7% ABV cloudy, golden IPA that’s packed with tropical fruit, citrus, and earthy aromas—and a subtle sweetness and bitterness that’s sure to satisfy in every sip! Perfect for those lazy, hazy, crazy days when you need to kick back—and go a little hazy!

Melvin Brewing Juice Theorem

Since its Alpine inception, the lab has always been an integral part of Melvin Brewing. Our team of rad scientists has now proposed a theorem: that clear IPAs can be just as juicy as their hazy counterparts. The evidence in the can is a testament to the crew’s skill in the art of zymurgy a postmodern IPA full of bright juicy flavors, yet crisp and clean in the body and finish. Available fresh on March 1!

Lawson's Finest Liquids Little Sip IPA

Our little cousin to Sip of Sunshine IPA has a juicy, fruit-forward character layered with tropical hop flavors and bright floral aromas. Notes of grapefruit and pineapple complement this delectably balanced beer. Little Sip IPA quenches your thirst as you reach the summit of your favorite hike and keeps you company while you mow the lawn. This may very well be your new desert-island beer!


Brewpub Review: Stone Coast Brewing Company

Stone Coast Brewing Company in Laconia, New Hampshire has its roots in several different brewpub ventures. Opened on the site of the short-lived Winnipesaukee Pub and Brewery at the foot of Laconia's classic New England Main Street, this is the second brewpub location using the Stone Coast name, the original location being a Portland, Maine brewpub that opened last year.

And to follow it back one more iteration, Stone Coast was spawned by the Sunday River Brewing Company of Bethel, Maine. Stone Coast owners Grant Wilson and Peter Leavitt decided to see if they could succeed where the previous brewpub failed, and so far it looks like the Sunday River/Stone Coast formula is producing a winner. Good food, great beer, and an inviting environment.

Literally a stone's throw from Lake Winnipesaukee and only seven miles off Interstate 93, Stone Coast has an airy, modern decor punctuated by lots of potted plants. Funky lighting fixtures illuminate mottled gold walls, cozy booths, and a carpet with an autumn leaves motif in the sweeping, semi-circular dining area. A large bar dominates the middle of the pub, beyond which are two pool tables, a bandstand and a dance floor, with the brewhouse wedged into a narrow strip of space near the entrance.

Open for both lunch and dinner, Stone Coast offers reasonably-priced pub grub ($5-12.95) with a few nods to foodies looking for more than a burger. For a region not typically known for its culinary breadth, particularly at the lower end of the price scale, there is a decent variety of fun food for a location far from any major city. There are appetizers ranging from crab cakes to portobello mushrooms, entrees that include fish and chips, steak, pasta, and seafood, as well as the requisite array of burgers and sandwiches. A pulled pork sandwich came heaped with tender, though a bit fatty barbecued pork, covered in a tangy, somewhat smoky barbecue sauce and a side of fries.

Stone Coast in Laconia uses the same beer recipes as the Portland location, some of which appear to have traveled from Sunday River as well. The Laconia pub does add its own interpretation to the recipes, however, according to a staff member.

Stone Coast had six beers on tap at the time. Waterfront Wheat was a basic innocuous American wheat beer Gunstock Alt was a malty, rounded ale with a hoppy finish Peaks Pale Ale was nicely bitter with a dry finish Redstone Ale, dubbed a "California-style red ale," had a nice toasted malt nose and a smooth, balanced body 420 India Pale Ale had a pungent hop nose, and the emphatic bitterness and a brassy note often found in IPAs and finally, Black Bear Porter was a harmonious blend of dark malts, its maltiness nicely balanced by an acrid note from the black malt and firm hopping.

Not yet available, but promised to be soon on tap was an oatmeal stout with a nitrogen tap to enhance the creaminess of its head when poured. The beers are produced on a DME brewing system, consisting of a 19 barrel mash tun, a 23 barrel kettle, and three 20 barrel conical fermenters.

Stone Coast appears to be striving to become a week-long destination for various crowds. A weekday afternoon found families and people of all ages filling the dining room. Bands play on Thursday-Saturday nights, and there are free buffets during Sunday afternoon and Monday night football games, drink specials on Tuesday, free pool on Wednesday, and a $1 cover and $1 drafts on Thursday nights. In addition, a $50 membership to the Stone Coast Mug Club entitles you to have your 22 ounce mug filled for $2, except on Tuesday from 4-8 and all day Sunday when it's only $1.

An eloborate neon sign outside the pub features a lighthouse and its beacon, providing a visual draw for anybody passing by. Indeed, Stone Coast appears to be about the the most vibrant place in what is mostly a fairly sleepy downtown in New Hampshire's Lakes Region. So whether you're in the area on vacation or just passing by on your way to the White Mountains, Stone Coast is definitely worth a stop.

Search The Real Beer Library For More Articles Related To: New Hampshire


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

San Diego Beer Review: Manzanita Brewing Witch's Hair

Manzanita Brewing Co.
10151 Prospect Ave.
Santee, CA 92071
www.manzanitabrewing.com

Yep. looong break between posts again. I have been drinking a lot of new stuff lately, but just haven't had the drive to write my thoughts down. I should be posting quite a bit of stuff up in the next few days/weeks. Be on the look out.

Several of the new beers I have had have been by Manzanita Brewing. I have been very impressed with them lately (new brewmaster?) and decided to write my first post on their new fall seasonal that was released today.

Pumpkin Ale
8.8% ABV


Stone Brewing Co. Xocoveza For The Holidays

Aroma: “Moderate spiciness where the spicy peppers slightly overpower the chocolate. Reminiscent of Halloween spices with light cinnamon and an earthy character. Chocolate, chile, and roast. Cinnamon, mild pepper aroma, and chocolate combine to smell a bit like an incense-filled Nepali import shop. I can reframe it as mole, but it’s more like incense.”

Flavor: “Flavor is very much mole: the chile flavor is there, with a hint of chipotle spicy smoke, along with an earthy cocoa, but the spices are very much in play, with strong cinnamon and mild cumin. A touch of alcohol warming, just enough to know it is there. Subtle heat.”

Overall: “Very drinkable and balanced with a good chile flavor, light chile spice, chocolate, and a cinnamon note. Nicely balanced and surprisingly quaffable. This hits all the expected notes (chile, chocolate, and malt) without overdoing any of them.”


Watch the video: Beer Review # 3541 Stone Brewing Vertical Epic Ale (May 2022).


Comments:

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