Stone brews a special IPA for their anniversary each year, and this year, their 20th, it’s Citracado IPA, an Imperial IPA brewed with citra hops and avocado flower honey. Like all Stone beers, the hops are important. This one is one of the hop bombs, so if you like Ruination, this might be for you. The nose is floral and citrusy, with orange and grapefruit notes. The middle has a ton of lemon and grapefruit, and sweetness from the honey over a big malty backbone that give it weight. It fades to grapefruit rind and pine bitterness in the finish, and is never subtle. The body is heavy and the alcohol is 9.0% ABV. This is a special beer, brewed for a special occasion, and it more than does it justice. This is an outstanding beer.
I give it a 4.9 out of 5.
For their 20th anniversary, Stone has produced a special beer, and packaged it with encores of their 5th, 10th, and 15th Anniversary IPAs. Today I’m reviewing the encore series version of the 5th Anniversary brew. In Stone Tradition, this is a hop-bomb of a west coast style IPA. Orange, mango and apricot on the nose, massive amounts of lemon and grapefruit in the middle and tons of raw pine in the finish. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is not unreasonably stiff at 8.5% ABV. I’m sad I didn’t get a chance to try the original, but the encore is still an amazingly well executed, wild example of a big west coast IPA.
I give it a 4.8 out of 5.
We’ve had a bit of a cold snap here, with lows dipping into the high 20s for the first time this fall. That makes for a lovely excuse to break out a bottle of Xocoveza, a winter-spiced mocha stout from Stone. Being based in San Diego, I’m not sure what Stone actually knows about winter, but they sure do know their way around a winter brew. This particularly recipe includes cocoa, coffee, peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix all that up in a beer, and what comes out is liquid deliciousness. The cinnamon, nutmeg, and cocoa are strongly present in the nose. The head is creamy and hangs around for quite awhile. The middle is pure mocha, milky with notes of chocolate and coffee throughout. The peppers are very understated and there is just a tiny hint of a spicy bit in the finish, muted by vanilla. The body is medium and the alcohol is a relatively strong 8.1% ABV. A fabulously flavorful and wonderfully executed beer that might be my new point of reference for a winter stout.
I give it a 4.8 out of 5.
Grainiac is another experiment from Stone’s Stochasticity Project line, and this time it’s a hopped-up malt bomb. The head is massive and silky and hangs around like you would expect from a root beer float. The nose has toast and granola and just a hint of lemon. The middle is full of sweet grain, and bitter hops. There’s sweet orange notes bitter pine, and a strong whole-wheat breadiness. More like dough than baked bread in flavor. The finish is sugary with a tiny herbal bitter bite right at the very end. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is a fairly stout 8.5% ABV. The grains in this beer (barley, wheat, rye, triticale, millet and buckwheat) make it interesting, but Stone makes it special.
I give it a 4.5 out of 5.
From Stone’s Stochasticity Project, HiFi+LoFi Mixtape is a blend of fresh strong ale with ale that’s been aged for three months in oak. According to Stone, this was a common practice when fresh stock ale was smoky and bitter, it would be mixed with ale that had aged and mellowed to make it more drinkable. I don’t know about the old stuff, but Stone’s version is definitely drinkable. The nosy is slightly yeasty with lemon, and maybe just a tiny hint of oak. The middle is deliciously full of flavor ranging from sweet apple to creamy butter, and bitter pine. The finish is bready and slightly sweet. The body is medium and the alcohol is stiff-ish, at 8.8% ABV. I love barrel aged ales, and this is no exception.
I give it a 4.4 out of 5.
Fans of Monty Python will recognize the source of this Medieval-style ale, brewed with, of course, elderberries. A word to the wise; Medieval beer is different. Very different from modern beer. I happen to be a fan, most, I think, are not. Hoppiness is very subdued (on non-existant) and in its place are all sorts of weird herbs and spices and flavors you might not generally associate with beer. Here, the nose isn’t terribly intense, but it does have light notes of bread, molassas, and smoked peat. The middle is spicy, with strong peppery heat and bitter herbs. There’s a sweetness at the end of the middle, where you can really taste the berries (elderberries, I presume, though never having had them on their own, I can’t swear it) and a dry, bitter bite at the finish. The pepper lingers all the way through. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is a robust 10.3% ABV. It’s a strong ale, but I wouldn’t really call it an American Strong Ale, as there’s nothing in it that suggests it was fomulated after beer (hopped, by this time) made its way to these North American shores. In my opinion, this is a lovely formulation, and well executed. A fine brew.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.
This review is the second 9.3% ABV Stone offering in a row, and this is the Collective Distortion IPA, an Imperial IPA brewed with elderberries and coriander. It’s not just a touch of elderberries and coriander either, their presence is pronounced. The nose is heavily scented with elderberry and citrus. The coriander is a strong note in the middle along with honey and licorice, and the finish brings back the elderberry and heavy grapefruit. This is a sticky, full bodied, full flavor beer. The flavor is unique and strong and I like it, but i don’t love it.
I give it a 4 out of 5.