Monday, March 17, 2014

Stone - Go To IPA Review

Brewery: Stone (CA)
Style: Session IPA
ABV: 4.5%
Grade: A-
Age at Consumption: 2 Weeks

My general feeling on beer styles is: "if it helps a drinker get a sense of the beer they're about to consume, good." Otherwise, I don't much care about style one way or the other, and I rarely brew to style guidelines myself. Still, when so-called "session IPAs" started popping up the other year, my immediate reaction was: "aren't these just pale ales?" The more examples of "session IPA" that come out, though, the more I'm willing to accept that maybe the style has found a voice. If not a voice, then maybe at least a purpose — I get what brewers are trying to do with these beers, and have brewed a few along the same lines myself. I guess that's enough.

Where pale ales tend to be slightly maltier, slightly more balanced in body, session IPAs like Stone's brand new Go To IPA tend to be very, very... crisp. More than hoppy or balanced or any other beer adjective, my immediate reaction to this is just: "crisp." The clean, brisk mouthfeel lends a minerally, mildly-bitter finish. This is a beer that's very deliberately engineered to be easy-drinking, and it's as much about the mouthfeel as it is the hop character. (At three or four months old, I imagine this will taste like a slightly-fruity pilsner). Which is not to downplay the other big component of Go To IPA — the vibrantly fruity hop character, which gets better and better as the beer warms. This isn't the juiciest hop bomb I've had (it's too crisp for my palate to actually interpret it as 'juicy'), but it does a great job of capturing the nuanced aromatics and rich tropical flavors of big explosive IPAs, while still relying on the simple-by-design structure of a "session" base. Touches of mango and orange and classic hoppy grapefruit are layered gracefully throughout the beer, with deeper hints of ripe sweet melon and ripe berry goodness. I'd take a guess that Stone loads Go To with either Mosaic or Galaxy, and maybe a bit of Nelson Sauvin. Whatever it is, it's a good call for a beer like this. This is what one might describe as "hella drinkable."

Go To IPA has a lot of cross-over potential — those typically offended by assertive bitterness should find this more than palatable, with a background of exotic hops adding lots of complexity and succulent fruit notes. The only downside of a beer like this? To truly be a "go to" beer, it should ideally be fresh whenever the urge strikes. And with Stone's wide distribution footprint, that's gonna be hard. Pay attention to bottle dates and always drink fresh.

Availability: Year-round. 12 ounce bottles.

1 comment:

  1. Great review, I have the same concerns about shelf life with this beer. I might have enjoyed it a little more then you, but the finish was a bit flat. If this beer sits warm on a shelf for 3 months it may not be so enjoyable. Tons of Session IPAs coming out now though.


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