Stone: Enjoy By IPA: 08/16/14 (USA: IIPA: 9.4% ABV)
Visual: Yellow gold, large off white tight bubbled head. Moderate carbonation.
Nose: Hops and bitterness. Pineapple. Very crisp. Custard cream biscuits. Woods after rain. Resin. Hop oils. Passion fruit. Fluffy popcorn. Dried mango.
Body: Very crisp. Lime. Toffee. Resin. Dried apricot. Juicy peach. Gingerbread touch. Greenery. Hop oils. Custard.
Finish: Hop oils. Resin. Very good bitterness. Musty mouth filling elements. Passion fruit. Gingerbread. Gooseberries. Pomegranate. Lime. Grapefruit.
Conclusion: I cannot do an unbiased review here. It just isn’t possible. I have Enjoy By IPA in the UK with about three weeks to spare. Holy fuck. The very occurrence is going to introduce bias.
So, let’s try anyway. How is it? The first impressions are all crisp hops and bitterness. We have some tart pineapple here, but mainly I am just thinking how crisp and bitter it is. Maybe I’m easily influenced by the name, but there is just a ton of hop oils, wet woodland greenery notes and resin. Here up front it really is that most base of hop characteristics, not much range, just raw hop influence.
The first sip is, again, just crisp as hell, resin and hop oils. There is a small amount of toffee in the malt presence, but not heavily so, and I’m not getting any real range yet. It is all in the bitterness. At this point there is an impressiveness to the sheer raw character, but not enough to make an exceptional beer overall, just exceptional in that one characteristic.
Then it all builds, as the beer warms the texture seems to thicker, and a very musky element comes out, like hop spores just bursting out. Here it starts gaining pungent dried fruit, like passion fruit and mango, against sweeter notes of apricot and peach. The sweet notes are the quietest, but the two type still struggle back and forth, warring for control of the glass. Juicy and dried fruit mix against the ever present desiccating bitterness. The real raw hop greenery rises, it is not what some of my friends would call a Cannabis like element, but it puts me in the mind of a room that has had seen some of that action. Very green, very oily and resinous.
The finish becomes pretty much pure pungent fruit and bitterness, the crispness subsiding below the flavours that the hops finally deliver. I only poured about of a third of the bottle initially, and each fresh pour revitalises the bitterness and crispness. I would recommend doing it this way, as it keeps the beer feeling fresh throughout.
So a very good beer. Unquestionably. Is it that damn good? Well first let me ask if I can actually be unbiased here? The answer to that is no. The answer to the first question? Well, it is lovely. The flavour progression is from crisp and clean to complex, musky and robust. The bitterness just rises and rises. The flavour is full American style hops, with hints that call to the more NZ style.
It is a beer of utter raw hop use, you barely get any show of the base malt, and what you do get rapidly vanishes before the bitterness. It is an ode to hop use and is brilliant. So to finally answer. It is that damn good.
Background: Where do I start with this one? This is the beer I never expected to see in the UK. Stone Brewing are notoriously short dated at the best of times, and we tend to get their bottles just before the best before dates if we are lucky. This beer was brewed not to last. Six weeks from brewing to Best Before date if I have calculated it right. Six weeks to ship, buy, and drink. The entire beer has been brewed to enjoy fresh and hoppy. Brewdog managed it. Delayed by about a week by customs, but still arrived about two to three weeks after brewing. The beer was available at bars from 18:00 hours. I arrived 18:15. For the best by the sounds of it, some bars sold out in under an hour. I was expecting a 330ml bottle, so with 660 ml of near 10% abv I took my time, kicked back and just enjoyed some conversation with fellow enthusiasts. As you can guess, I was very excited for this beer. I hoped to get this review up last night, but was delayed coming back from a “The Eels” gig, which rocked, but I was nackered.