Stone Brewing Co.
San Diego, CA
16th Anniversary Imperial IPA
Every year, Stone cranks out an inventive and unique imperial IPA to celebrate their anniversary. And every year – or at least the years I’ve had – they knock it out of the park with something new and original. Last year, it was a black IPA, a style they mockingly dubbed their “Escondidian” Imperial Black IPA (a play on the Cascadian label usually given to black IPAs). This year, for their 16th anniversary, they went with a rye IPA brewed with Amarillo and Calypso hops and three other secret hop varieties, European speciality malts and lemon verbena, a European flowering plant.
I was able to try the 16th Anniversary on draft about a week ago and immediately dubbed it one of the best DIPAs I’ve ever had. That decision was made a few drinks in, so I picked up a bottle and had it as fresh as possible to see if I was right.
The beer pours a gorgeous crystal clear light copper color. It’s topped with a big fluffy two finger head, which leaves behind some pretty incredible lacing and good alcohol legs
The lemon verbena imparts a huge citrus nose, and the Amarillo gives it a big, juicy orange, with a little papaya and pineapple. But it’s all covered with this huge lemon quality. There’s a slight pine and grassy note and a slight nip from the rye. In a word, it’s incredible.
The nose follows through on the taste with an incredibly rich and juicy mouthfeel. It’s full, like biting into fruit. There’s a nice hop bitterness on the front and the citrus notes explode on the finish. That big, dank hop taste you’d expect from a Stone lingers all over the mouth with that incredible dry pine taste. And of course there’s definitely a huge lemon quality and a great rye bite, too. It definitely all stings the mouth a bit.
My first opinion of the 16th Anniversary definitely still holds. It’s easily one of the best DIPAs I’ve tasted. Usually DIPAs – especially those from Stone – are big and dank. This one certainly is, but the citrus notes from the lemon verbena and the hops balance the pine with a bright, clean flavor. It hits all the right notes.