“ENJOY BY 5. 17. 13!” The bottle in my fridge had been relentlessly nagging me for three weeks. The big black and white letters on the green label glared at me from the shelf. I was away when it arrived on my doorstep, but it even from afar it scolded me for my neglect, imprinting guilt upon my mind – nee my soul – that I was allowing it to fade with each passing day. And now the dreaded deadline had arrived. I had let it go until the last minute. It was 5. 17. 13.
I pried the cap off of the bottle and poured its copper-colored contents into my Sam Adams/Dogfish Head IPA glass. I raised it to my nose with anticipation. Had I waited too long? Would the lupuline nectar be degraded; a mere shadow of its once bitter self? Only a taste would tell.
Here’s my notes:
Enjoy by 5. 17. 13. IPA
Stone Brewing Co, Escondido, California
Style: Imperial IPA
Serving Style: 22 oz. bottle
Aroma: Light apricots and pineapple. Hint of sugary grain. Aromatics very low overall.
Appearance: Golden color and hazy. Substantial and persistent, off-white, rocky foam. The head really hangs around.
Flavor: Bit of chives right off the bat. Brown sugar, but not sweet. Light toast. Bitterness is high, but not unbalanced. Malt sweetness is enough to counter. The bitterness hangs on in the finish though, coming back for another bite long after swallowing. Hop flavors are low, with hints of chive, herbs, mint, and citrus peel. Some stone-fruit flavors pop in as well. Alcohol is noticeable, but not hot. Very dry. Although I have picked several things out, it’s all very subtle. Bitterness dominates.
Mouthfeel: Medium body. Medium carbonation. Mild astringency. Alcohol warmth.
Overall Impression: I really wanted more. More hop aroma. More hop flavor. More interesting malt. The whole seemed a bit one-dimensional to me, and that dimension was mostly bitter. Sure, there were some other things going on, but as I stated above they were all pretty subtle. I found myself thinking, “Well, there’s another 9.5% IPA. And the world certainly needed another one of those.” Maybe I did leave it too long.