Monday, June 05, 2006

Stone 9th Anniversary Ale

I picked up a couple of these when they first came out. The first one I drank right away, but found it somehow lacking. So I stuck the second one in my “cellar” hoping that it would get better with age. Months later I realized it was a wheat beer, a style that does not age very well. Let’s hope it is still palatable.

Stats:Brewery – Stone Brewing Co. in San Diego, CA
Style – This one doesn’t really have a defined style. Let’s just call it an American Strong Wheat Ale.
ABV – 7.8%
IBUs – 50
OG – 19º plato
Serving Type – 22 oz. (bomber) bottle

For the past nine years Stone Brewing has taken a perfectly nice and respectable beer style and stretched it to the limits. I covered much of the Stone philosophy bloging about their Double Bastard Ale. For the first several years they were content with celebrating their birthday with well crafted double IPAs. Then they took on the Baltic Porter. The flowing year was an APA. Last year they did the nearly impossible and brought us a Brown Ale that actually had body and flavor. Released on August 29th, 2005 this is an “Anniversary-ized” version of their Heat Seeking Wheat that was distributed a couple of years ago.

Glass – Glass Mug

Aroma – The first thing I senses is that wonderfully floral hop aroma. It’s funny how a bouquet of flowers does nothing for me, but a hand full of hops will send me to heaven. I get some breadiness from the wheat. I can pick out some pear like fruitiness. There is also more than just a hint of alcohol.

Appearance – When I poured this I got a huge fluffy white crown that left behind big sticky lace. It has a pale straw color and at first seemed very clear. However, when I finished off the bottle I found a little yeast in my glass hazing things up.

Flavor – Initially I got a hoppy floral flavor. In the middle the hops impart a fruitier flavor similar to pears and apples. There is also some spiciness and what seems to be bubblegum. It’s at this point things seem to go wrong. Alcohol overtakes the flavor destroying everything else. On the bright side, even though the alcohol lingers it fades away quickly.

Mouthfeel – This beer has a medium body and medium carbonation. It leaves an almost chalky feel in my mouth, especially on the front of my tongue.

Final Thoughts – Let this be a lesson to all of you; some beers, such as wheat beers, are best imbibed as fresh as possible. In this case alcoholic flavor and feel of the beer was probably caused by a mild form of autolysis. This is when the yeast runs out of “food” in the beer and starters to eat itself. I’m kicking my self right now for letting this beer go near-bad on me, but at least I only have to wait a couple of months for the next anniversary ale (which is actually coming out on my birthday this year).


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