Stone Baird Ishii Japanese Green Tea IPA 2015

Stone: Baird: Ishii: Japanese Green Tea IPA 2015 (USA: IIPA: 10.1% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Inch of creamy head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Minty. Pinecones. Pineapple. (Ok, yes, high quality green tea) Wet rope. Ice cream and chives.

Body: Apricot. Moss. Good hop oils and bitterness. Tannins. Green tea. Mandarins. Vanilla fudge. Slight frothy thickness. Palma violets. Acrid bitter core.

Finish: Peppermint. Hops. Hop oils and good bitterness. Green tea. Tannins. Tea bags.

Conclusion: Ok, I am very aware that for, say, seventy percent of the people reading this me just saying “this tastes like quality freshly made green tea” will not actually be that helpful. Even though it totally does. Me saying “This even tastes like that green tea I had in a garden in Tokyo” would be even less helpful, mainly because I didn’t specify which garden. It would also be true though. It was awesome.

So I will try to use other comparisons, so to attempt to be vaguely helpful. Because I am nice.

Ok, initially, as I took my first sniffs of the aroma I was wondering if I was getting slight psychosomatic influence on the whole green tea thing. There was this kind of we rope aroma, a real thick rope, like you use in PE class, along with a greenery with some mint notes over a more standard resinous IIPA base. Nice, but I wasn’t quite sure if I was imagining things.

The body helped set me right. It has that froth green tea feel somehow, along with the greenery and tannins. The hop bitterness backs it nicely so you don’t just have alcoholic green tea. The hop bitterness is met and raised by the more acrid, herbal tea bitterness at the core. While less obvious there are other elements of the IPA base there. The sweetness is drier than usual, more fudge than toffee, and there is hop fruitiness, but very subtly so. Its more a matter of pushing enough contrast to end up emphasising the green tea.

The finish closes off the image perfectly, a kind of mix of peppermint and hop oils along with green tea. Again, I am surprised at how well this works – the green tea is given pretty much free rein, but the hop oils, resins and bitterness mix with it to make this very much a beer and very much an IPA.

This is a unique beer, to my experience, and one of the best tea based beers I have encountered. It really shows all that tea and hop bitterness, and the difference between the two – while using them together to create a distinct IPA experience. Probably the only flaw is it is too heavy duty to have too often, there is very little softening the beer.

So, not an anytime beer, but one you should try – well as long as you like bitterness, and not just hop bitterness – but it is a delight and great beer alchemy. It doesn’t quite get the favourite tag, only as it is a beer for rare occasions, but on those rare occasions – seriously it is one you should experience.

Background: Ok, I’m a fair fan of Japan, and did enjoy the green tea when I was over there – especially when we got to try some of the good stuff. I’m also a huge fan if IPAs, especially the huge American style. So, yeah It was pretty much inevitable I was going to buy this when I had a chance. Picked up from Brewdog’s Guest beer selection, this is the second brew of this beer, with different hops and slightly different recipe to the first batch. Drunk while listening to Rise Against – Endgame, yes, again. I am predictable some times.