Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beer of the Month: Stone Brewing's 15th Anniversary Black Imperial IPA

For the month of September, I bestow the title of Beer of the Month to Stone Brewing's Imperial Black IPA.  Perhaps I award them this month's title because I've found Stone's last couple anniversary ales to be pretty underwhelming.  They were full of strong aggressive flavors you expect from Stone, but instead of being bold and arresting, the resulting brew was harsh, over done, unbalanced, and just plain difficult to drink.

That's not the case for this years version.  There's plenty of big, bold flavors in there, but they somehow remain smooth and balanced.  The first thing that hits you when you open the bottle is the aroma of whole bunch of hops.  Lot's of piney, resiny hops.  The beer itself has plenty of rich, malty bitter chocolate flavors and that some how melds seemlessly with all those hops. It's just this big brew full of roasty malty hoppy flavors that somehow come together and create something unique.  Actually describing the flavor is a challenge and one of the signs of a great beer is that it has a uniqueness that cannot be simply summed up by ticking off flavor components or referencing other beers. So I'll just say that, rather tick off a flavor profile full of wild guesses.

Beware, as this warms up, the flavors start to get out of whack, the alcohol get more pronounced and the beer goes from sublime to barely drinkable in seconds flat.  When that happened, I just put it back in the freezer for a few minutes to bring the flavors to balance.

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