Stone 18th Anniversary IPA

Stone: 18th Anniversary Golden Brown IPA (USA: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Burnished cherry red. Large coffee froth coloured frothy head.

Nose: Mandarin orange. Bubblegum. Moderate hops. Opal fruits (Yes I know they are called Starbursts now, leave me alone – I’m old) Peppermint. Toffee malt. Gooseberry.

Body: Solidly bitter. Bready. Juicy peach. Bubblegum. Toffee malt. Thick feel. Caramel. Light choc orange. Banoffee pie.

Finish: Bubblegum. Grapes. Toffee and caramel. Malt chocolate. French fancies centres and sponge. Bitter and full of hops.

Conclusion: IPA you say? Golden Brown IPA? I dunno, it tastes more like a big hopped Amber Ale to me. A very well made Amber Ale may I add, lest it be seen as an insult. It has a lot more malt tones going on than your average IPA. There is a lot of chocolate and smooth caramel notes going on – much deeper and heavier than usual light toffee backing you get to a lot of IPAs. Much sweeter and thicker.

The hops themselves and present and correct, with initially understated bitterness that becomes heavier and heavier as it goes along. Even at its highest though it is a lot more easy going than most Stone beers. Maybe it is the hop chosen, I’ve only had little experience with El Dorado, so I don’t know how it rates for alpha acids. Here it seems to come across as soft orange notes and bubblegum flavours, along with a quite bready take to the bitterness.

It all combines to a quite dessert hop tasting Amber A…I mean IPA – kind of banofffee pie middle and heavy on the malt. Not what I expected going in. It doesn’t have any of the tartness you can get with a lot of USA and NZ hops and that makes it seem a much more mellow brew.

So, well, I hope that gives you enough information for you to know if you will like this beer as it is a hard one to sum up. It is not really playing to style guidelines, but smooth, nicely but not bracingly bitter – lots of sweetness and full of odd hop flavours.

I personally would call it an oddball success – not for when I want a wake up IPA, in fact not a beer for when I want most expectations of an IPA, but a very good beer when you can get past expectations.

Background: Golden Brown IPA. GOLDEN BROWN IPA?! NOW YOU’RE JUST MAKING SHIT UP! Anyway, this is not the time or place for me to go on a rant about the range of colour adjectives being used before IPA. In fact golden brown is actually quite close to an expected IPA colour, compared to most. Ahem. So, the 18th anniversary ale from Stone, and, guess what? It is a highly hopped beer. I am in shock. This is my shocked face. Honest. Hopped with El Dorado hops as well, which is one I bumped into in a single hop beer a while back, but the base beer was a tad screwed so I didn’t get a good feel for it- so this should be fun. Drunk while listening to the Guilty Gear XX soundtrack. Again. I am such a geek.