Stone Brewing Co. has long been a leader in the craft beer industry. They’ve helped lead the way in brash, highly hopped IPAs and marketing that talks about, to paraphrase, “if you don’t like it, you’re just not good enough to get it.” Founder Greg Koch, aside from helping to come up with and continue those arrogant sounding marketing tactics, has been a champion of the industry and way to make it better for consumers as well as brewers. A recent cause Koch and his company have taken up is beer freshness. Now, many people will print a “best by” date on their bottles. Some will even be good about ensuring that stores keep up with that date and see that stock is rotated correctly. But Stone has now gone one further, creating a beer whose entire existence revolves around promoting freshness.
The “Enjoy By...IPA” series is a rotating series where a super-hopped double IPA is released in limited quantities into a few markets at a time. This way, Stone can ensure that it’s being sold through the retail channel long before it’s “best by” date has passed. And, to make sure the consumer knows about this freshness dating, they’ve put the date right into the name. So, in Boston, I was able to pick up an “Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA.” And, wouldn’t you know, that coincides nicely with the end of the world (according to a few gullible people who misinterpreted a several thousand year old calendar). So, with that in mind, lets check out how this super fresh beer is.
With a crystal clear, barely darker than straw-colored body and a barely off-white head, Stone Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA looks exactly like an IPA! The color is maybe slightly orange at times, depending on the light. The said, the head recedes fairly quickly, leaving me with a thin film on top of the beer and a ring of head around the edges.
“Enjoy By” is all about the hops and I know that from just sticking my nose in the glass. Tropical aromas, oranges, pineapples and other citrus abound. Malt? Well I feel like Stone would say that’s for people who aren’t as worthy. Because, and listen close, this is for those of you who are of a hoppier persuasion. Soft round edges? Matured flavors? No thanks, this is all about the purity of essence of thousands of little flowers that grow on vines and the sacrifice they make to make beer so delicious.
So I may have waxed poetic (or at least as close as I get) there for a moment, but my first sip of Enjoy By confirms my thoughts. This beer may as well be bubbly, cold hop tea because that’s all I get from it. The bitterness is strong, but not quite overwhelming. The mouthfeel is a little oily from all the hops. But the flavor is back to those tropical fruits again, all from that glorious little flower we call humulus lupulus. This is delicious, and I’m definitely enjoying it. Would it be as good on December 22? Probably. But I get the point that Stone is making and applaud them for it, even if they used a little hyperbole...sometimes you’ve got to to get your point across. Also, as we all know, Stone loves hyperbole and bombast.
If you live in the Boston-area, chances are you’re going to have to wait until the next time this one comes by because it came and sold out quick. But, if you live in other places that Stone distributes, just keep your eyes out for news of Enjoy By coming to your city, because this is a delicious IPA!
We here at Drink Craft Beer would like to thank everyone who came out to Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest on November 30 and December 1, 2012! The volunteers, the brewers and, of course, the attendees, thanks! You made it all possible!
1500 awesome attendees, 25 craft breweries, 75+ brewery representatives, 80+ amazing brews, 67 volunteers, 6 food vendors, 1 venue and several great security professionals working the door helped to make the first annual Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest a total success and a weekend to remember! Come April 5 & 6 there will be another fest from us, Drink Craft Beer Springfest: A Celebration of Hops...but there will never be another first Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest. And we’re running out of first fests to have...or are we?
See pictures from throughout the fest on our Facebook page. But first, check out these highlights right here (photos by Amie Fedora Photography):
Drink Craft Beer & Peak Organic Collaboration Beer: Nut Your Average Ginger Brown Ale.
Devon and Jeff, founders of Drink Craft Beer, hanging out at Fall to Winter Fest.
Our awesome brewers and volunteers from Fall to Winter Fest!
Attendees on Saturday night at Fall to Winter Fest.
We couldn't make these things work without our wonderful staff of volunteers. Thanks, girls and guys!
Finally, are you ready for Drink Craft Beer Springfest: A Celebration of Hops?!
For Fall to Winter Fest we've teamed up with Peak Organic Brewing Company to create something very special. We knew that, following Summerfest: A Celebration of Farmhouse Ale, we had to step it up a notch and we think we did just that. With Fall to Winter Fest focused on seasonal ingredients, we knew that Jon and Rob from Peak Organic were the perfect partners for our project to create a beer just for this fest. They are very supportive of local, seasonal ingredients and work very closely with farms throughout New England to get a lot of their ingredients. They take it one step farther, even, and keep it all organic. Plus, they are absolute wizards at sourcing hard to find ingredients. When they were enthusiastic about the project right off the bat, we knew we'd found the right team!
One night, over a couple of beers, we threw around concepts and missions for the beer and all went off to think. Over the next couple weeks we went back and forth, trying to come up with something that we thought really told the story of the fest while also showcasing great local and seasonal ingredients. We wanted to show that fall is more than pumpkin...we wanted to use ingredients that were locally sourced...we wanted to do something that would make you think both "fall" and "winter"...and all the flavors had to fit together just right! The final product, now known as "Nut Your Average Ginger," is made of:
- Organic barley malted at Valley Malt in Hadley, MA.
- Organic Cascade hops from Blue Heron Farm in Lincoln, MA, actually picked in part by Rob from Peak Organic.
- Honey from Chef Will Gilson's farm in Groton, MA. Chef Gilson is opening Puritan & Co. in Inman Sq.
- Freshly picked organic Massachusetts-grown ginger from Old Friends Farm in Amherst, MA.
- Pureed chestnuts*
*(Chestnuts were historically grown in New England but a blight killed nearly the entire population in the first half of the last century. Despite this, we searched all over for a local chestnut supplier and found one. Unfortunately, the one grower we found had lost his entire crop this year due to bad weather last year. So, we ended up getting them from Baldor, the only distributor of non-sweetened chestnut puree.)
With a test recipe in hand, we set off for suburban Massachusetts to brew a 5 gallon homebrew batch (none of use had ever brewed with ginger or chestnut puree before). Once the recipe was vetted (and it's delicious, we've got to say) it was time to trek up to Maine to brew the batch that you'll all drink at Fall to Winter Fest this weekend (November 30 and December 1, 2012). Or, you can check it out at our fest pre-party on Thursday, November 29 from 6-9pm at Stoddard's Pub! If you can't make the fest, rumor has it that many of the kegs we don't use at the fest will be heading to Puritan & Co. when it opens.
This is the story of the brew day:
We'd like to thanks Brooks for having us into his brewery. Rob and Jon of Peak Organic Brewing Company for working with us on this beer and for sourcing all the wacky ingredients. Josh from Puritan & Co. and his girlfriend Stevie for coming up to Maine and helping us brew this beer...especially big thanks to Josh for shredding four lbs of freezing cold ginger with us!
New beers from Night Shift Brewing are always and exciting thing for me. I don't think I've ever had one I didn't like, but at the same time I never fully know what I'm going to get until I take that first sip. Such was the case with one of their newest releases Fallen Apple. The label describes the beer as "A golden ale, warmed with holiday spices, caught the fall of autumn’s last apples. We poured it into oak barrels of rum and brandy, and aged it as the leaves turned. Frosty weather now upon us, Fallen Apple kindles the tongue with flavors of caramel, baked apple, and spicy oak." Very descriptive and while accurate just doesn't do the beer justice.
The nose of the beer has nice hints of apple, almost like cider, not surprising as MA apple cider is one of the ingredients. There's hints of spice as well but they are subtle. The rum and brandy barrels warm the aroma and beg you to take a sip. The bottle recommends you drink this at 50 degrees and I'd echo that as mine was a bit too cold at first and some of the flavors felt sharp. After some patient waiting though I took a second sip...whoa...I didn't really know how to describe it at first, but I knew I liked it. The rum and brandy barrels add so much smoothness to this beer, but because it's only 6.3% abv there's no harshness at all. While there's sweetness it never feels overdone and the subtle notes of spice are just as subtle as they where in the aroma. The use of apple in this beer feels so unique, it's not a hard cider, but it feels like something just slightly different than beer. I won't worry about the semantics of that though as it tastes good and that's what I really care about. This is a beer to be sipped for sure and one to be shared at that. While the abv is low I don't know that I'd always want a full 750 to myself.
I do recommend you pick up a bottle while you can, or grab a ticket to Fall to Winter Fest this weekend where the beer will be featured.
A few weeks after Mystic Brewery (makers of one of our Top 11 Craft Beers of 2011) confirmed that they would be at Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest 2012, they posted on their blog that they'd just come back from getting 200 lbs of local Massachusetts cranberries. They said they'd try to bring this finicky yeasted creature to the fest and, lucky us, it turns out that the fermentation gods were on our side. Besides running around and making sure everything is perfect for both brewers and attendees during our fests, one of the perks is that we get to try a ton of great beer over the weekend, and this was one of them for me. After I had my two ounce sample, I knew that wouldn't be enough. So I grabbed a bottle over at South Boston's new Social Wines. So let's see how it is and if my memory served me well!
As I pour, a big, fluffy, large bubbled white head forms and quickly recedes down to a white film atop the beer. While I expected a reddish hued brew, this one pours a creamy orange color with a good bit of haze. Honestly, if you told me this was a cranberry beer, I woudln't believe you based on sight.
Three Cranes has a mild, berry-ish smell but not sharp and acidic as I'd expected. It's got almost a creamy nose to it and a nice, smooth citrus aroma. The Mystic Brewery house saison yeast definitely shows through a bit and complements the fruit perfectly. Behind that is a little clean grain. There's virtually no hop presence to this one, which is perfect for what they're looking to do.
Ooh, it's got a little sharp tartness up front, most likely from the acidic cranberries! The grain, while mild in the aroma, is a serious player when it comes to taste: dry, almost a little chalky and just like malted barley out of the bag. It's a great taste that really showcases the agriculture that goes into a beer like this. The signature Mystic yeast is subdued a bit compared to the fruit, which is nicely balanced as I'd expect from this brewery. I would call this an invigorating beer for autumn and winter...it's not fortifying, as 7% abv isn't quite strong enough for that...but invigorating definitely! I don't normally like fruit beer, but this is something different altogether. Well done to the Mystic folks on Three Cranes, as I can't keep from going back for another sip. Definitely check this one out, even if you normally pass over fruit beer.