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!