Last month I was able to obtain and review a bottle of the 13th Anniversary Ale. When I tried it I was amazed at how the beer had transformed and morphed into something that was still quite pleasant and enjoyable even though it clearly stated on the bottle not to age it.
I’m wondering if the 14th has held up or if it has completely lost its luster nearly a year and a half after its original bottled date.
We went to England this past spring as self-styled “IPA Hunters” on a mission to learn more about the confusing and often contradictory history of India Pale Ale – to look for some certainty where those before us have found mostly mystery and mercantilism. While our success in this pursuit is open to debate, there can be no question that we returned home inspired by the ghosts of Burton and by the experience of poring over 150-year old brewer’s logs handwritten in (India?) ink. Stone Brewing Co., after all, traces its lineage back to the British Empire’s brewing history: we make ales, and all of our original offerings used traditional British styles as a jumping-off point. If this seems a roundabout way of letting you know that, yes, we are in fact brewing another IPA to mark our Anniversary, well, so be it.
This one however, promises to be different! From the imported white malt to the “Burtonised” water to the rare yeast strain to the most pungent hops Kent has to offer, we used all British ingredients to brew our “Emperial” IPA.* While we may have brewed Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA with our own distinctively modern, San Diego-style touch, what good is history if you can’t rewrite it to suit your tastes?
In this case, our tastes called for highly intemperate quantities of Target, East Kent Goldings, and Boadicea hops, bestowing upon this dry-bodied ale a powerfully spicy, earthy aroma. On the palate, peppery hops assert themselves early and often, with malt sweetness making a brief appearance before being beaten back by a long, complex, and decisively bitter finish. What better way to contemplate the fate of empires past, present, and future?
*Um, except for our filtered Colorado River water, of course.
Rather lengthy wouldn’t you say????
This beer came in a 22 oz. bomber and it has an ABV of 8.9%.
The 14th Anniversary Ale poured a light orange to dark yellow color with some bright yellow highlights at the bottom of the glass. The head was bright white, hugely sized with some great retention and very good lacing left behind. The crown had a combination of both large and small bubbles that became rocky and soft within a few moments of pouring. The beer appeared hazy and when I emptied the bottle large chunks of sediment were seen floating throughout.
The aroma still had a significant amount of hops swirling around. Sweet grapefruit, orange and pine notes abound. It was very floral with a slight hint of alcohol. There was only the most minute amount of caramel malt and I was not able to detect any of the biscuit or breadiness that usually accompanies this style of beer. As the brew warmed a bit I did start to notice a minute syrupy distinction. That could have been from the hop oils breaking down. Either way, this brew still smelled quite nice and lively.
The taste provided more of the grapefruit with plenty of hop “bite” and bitterness. Further citrus of orange and maybe even a slight lemon savor intermingled well with the grapefruit to create a very sweet taste. A respectable amount of booze was noticed in the taste as well as a more significant quantity of bread, biscuits and caramel. It still tasted pretty darn good to me.
The mouthfeel was medium, very dry, quite snappy with some kick. It was refreshing and nearly thirst quenching I thought. It left a copious amount of flavor behind along with a “chalky” texture after the swallow. A wonderful burn and warmth was felt at the back of the throat to reaffirm the presence of the alcohol.
I tell ya. I can’t believe how well this beer has held up. It still has plenty of hoppy goodness. It was very easy to drink too considering the high ABV. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as potent as it would have been had it been fresh, however I couldn’t deny the significant amount of flavor that still propagated this beer. I would love to be able to find another bottle of this and age it even longer to see if it develops even further. It hasn’t quite transformed into a beer that’s unrecognizable or undrinkable, but rather it has become a beer that only seems to have lost a tiny bit of its luster and power. With that being said, I think the Stone 14th Anniversary Ale is still a fine and enjoyable drink that would be worth a second go round if you can find it.
Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting guys. It’s most appreciated.
Until next time.
Score: 4.15 out of 5