Stone 19th Anniversary Thunderstruck IPA

Stone: 19th Anniversary: Thunderstruck IPA (USA: IIPA: 8.7 ABV)

Visual: Cloudy yellow body. Yellowed bubbled head that foams up on a good pour.

Nose: Smooth. Tangerine. Shortbread and cream. Watermelon. Passion fruit. Jolly ranchers. Light fluffy hop character.

Body: Good bitterness. Peach and fruit syrup. Watermelon. Passion fruit. tangerine. Thick fruit pulp feeling base. Toffee back. Overripe banana. Good hop character.

Finish: Good hops and high bitterness. Slightly rough hop feel. Watermelon and tangerine. Passion fruit. Hop oils.

Conclusion: Ok. Everyone stand back. I am about to make an unprecedented statement. Stone brewing are doing a very hoppy beer. Shocked I know. Cats and dogs living together. Total anarchy. And they say sarcasm doesn’t come across well in print. The fools.

Good thing they are awesome at hoppy beers or them doing them over and over would get dull. This time they seem to have gone for a pretty smooth, watermelon, passionfruit and tangerine emphasising beer. Very much showing the Ella influence of the hop choice, and as an Ella fan I am in no way complaining. With the head frothed up it feels creamy and smooth – in fact if this was all there was to it, this would be a dangerously easy to drink beer.

Of course, this is Stone, so it has to have at least one extra characteristic – a solid bitter hop kick. Initially just a bracing level, but rising with each sip. This ends up bringing a long lasting, very bitter finish by the last drop. The malt body behind it shows very little influence – it is slightly dry and mainly there to let the hops show off.

Technically, as a smoother beer it would be better and therefore more impressive. I have had some experience with utterly amazing IPAs made with Ella in, and by reining in the bitterness they seem to really let the hop flavours do better. On the other hand, this is Stone – what did you expect? and since other people have the ultra smooth IPAs covered I am not going to complain that this indulges a little alpha acid push.

Great flavour, great bitterness. Maybe better beers have been made with the hops, but this definitely earns its right to exist.

Background: Well, last years anniversary ale was a hit with me, so let’s give this years a go. This time a double IPA made with a host of Australian hops – Topaz, Galaxy, Vic Secret and Ella. Ella is an awesome hop, so I was very much up for this. So, yeah, Stone beers, highly hopped – I was fairly certain this was going to go good places.