A couple weeks ago I was at my local bottle shop when I noticed this:
So that’s cool. I don’t know how much everyone else had been paying for bombers of Stone’s 16th Anniversary IPA, but $5.99 seemed like a steal to me. I had also committed blasphemy and not bought a bottle when it first hit shelves in August. No matter, because this overly-hopped West Coast IPA still came off fresh as a springtime breeze. To boot, it came with a score of 86 on Beer Advocate.
Ready for an in-depth look at this beer? Hit the jump to see how things turned out now that the anniversary series of brews is old enough to drive.
The Stone website notes that this brew has touch of rye malt in it, but it “isn’t quite enough to warrant the appellation ‘Rye IPA.'” As I noted in my tasting of Sixpoint’s Righteous Ale, brewers typically won’t fill more than a quarter of their grain bill with rye unless they’re really trying to push it, so my uneducated assumption would be that the amount of rye in 16th Anniversary IPA falls at or less than 10 percent. Anything above that could certainly put it in “rye beer” consideration. I bring all this up because the use of rye malt is a wonderful pairing with the use of lemon verbena in the brewing process. Because rye has such a distinct, spicy earthiness to it, it plays off the citrus notes of both the verbena and the wild collection of hops used – five in all.
When I opened the bottle, I could get a whiff of all this. After I poured it into my glass, I could smell it from about a foot away. Fantastic. The lemon is there, but Delta and Target hops shoot an awesome, resinous, floral burst into my nostrils. Dry hopping with Calypso and Amarillo was also a brilliant idea. Amarillo seems made for this kind of beer, with its big citrus qualities. These hops continued their attack on my senses with a pungent, sticky aroma that smelled like fresh, floral pellets on a brew day. If you’re like me (if you homebrew), one of my favorite things to do is open the hop package and put my nose right in for a big whiff. This beer brought me back to that. Memmmorrrrieeesssss.
All of this is not to take away from the taste, which with 85 IBUs has a bubble gum sweetness out front that leads the way to a dry, bitter finish. My taste buds felt slightly fatigued on each sip, with bitter lemon poking its head out every few sips. I think this is why it was important for Stone to really hit a home run with the aroma of this beer, because if your tongue starts lagging halfway through a 22-ounce bottle, your sense of smell will be able to carry you home. In addition to a great round of hop flavor, there were intense sweet fruit notes, including pineapple.
Stone 16th Anniversary IPA stats:
- Malt: Pale, Rye, Vienna, Light Munich and Dark Munich
- Hops: Magnum for bittering, Delta and Target in the whirlpool, and Calypso and Amarillo in the dry hop
- Adjuncts: Lemon verbena
- ABV: 10 percent