1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido
Some things in life are given — death, taxes, and Stone Brewing Co. putting out an India pale ale (IPA) to celebrate its anniversary. To date, 11 of Stone’s 18 anniversary brews have been IPAs. Five of those have come over the past half-decade and the sixth will be thanks to the upcoming arrival of Stone 18th Anniversary IPA, which hits local shelves and draft accounts next Monday, and will also be on tap at the Stone 18th Anniversary Celebration & Invitational Beer Festival, happening this Saturday, August 16 on the campus of California State University, San Marcos.
It’s apt that Stone is so consistent in its celebratory offerings. After all, it grew into the country’s tenth largest craft brewing company behind sales of some of the planet’s hoppiest creations, many of which are…you guessed it…IPAs. Three of Stone’s previous anniversary beers—Stone IPA, Stone Ruination IPA, and Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA — were so well-received they are now brewed year-round and distributed nationally. I don’t know if Stone 18th Anniversary IPA has that sort of future ahead of it, but having tasted it I can say that it’s, without a doubt, the most unique IPA the company has ever brewed.
Billed as a golden brown IPA, it’s hoppy as all get out, but it’s the specialty malts which give the beer its mid-range, earthen hue that help make it so interesting. The beer was dry-hopped with two pounds of El Dorado hops per barrel, the result is a tremendous lemony nose and clear-cut lemon candy character on the tongue. The sweetness drops off dramatically in the finish, leaving behind flavors more akin to lemon pith or grapefruit. But that’s not all. English Brown Coffee and Chocolate Wheat Malts contribute nuances of biscuit, toasted multi-gran bread, and black pepper. Sounds just like your average IPA, right? Nope! And that’s what makes this beer so special.
Disclosure: In addition to his work as a staff writer for the Reader, Brandon Hernández is also a communications specialist for Stone Brewing Co.