September Beer of the Month- Stone IPA

In before the buzzer again. Sorry folks! I have been busy and need to catch up on my posts. I owe you a few "Road Trip" blogs, including my awesome trip to San Diego. It so happens that the beer of the month comes from Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, CA, right outside San Diego. I don't hide the fact that I love hoppy beers, and IPA is one of my favorite styles. I need hops much like a coffee drinker needs caffeine. Call me an addict. The downside is that Nashville is "slim pickins" for outstanding IPAs. You beer buyers need to sit down with me over a pint or two and see what new brands we can bring to the Music City (wink wink).

One of my bottle shop standbys is Stone India Pale Ale, which is what we beer geeks label as a "west coast style IPA." To sum it up, West coast IPAs tend to have more of pale malt profile to showcase the aggressive use of hops. You can only find this Stone offering in liquor stores due the alcohol by volume. Expect to pay around $15 for a six pack or $5 per 22 ounce "bomber", which is a little steep. On my August beer trip to San Diego, I told Stone CEO Greg Koch what I was paying for this beer and even he was a little shocked. When you factor that Stone ships all their beer in refrigerated trucks, and TN has one of the highest beer taxes in the nation, it is going to add up. As with all IPAs, freshness is key to getting the maximum enjoyment from the hop flavors and aroma. I ask the store clerks when the shipment was received. If they are over 3 months old (and that's pushing it), I won't buy them. When possible, purchase the refrigerated bottles and keep them cold until consumption. I prefer to consume this beer at around 45-50 degrees.

Stone India Pale Ale (Stone Brewing Company, Escondido CA)

Look up "hops" in the dictionary and you'll see a picture of Stone IPA! "Dry-hopped" for an extra two weeks, this unique process gives our IPA its bountiful hop aroma and rich hop flavor. A full 70+ IBUs (International Bitterness Units) creates this beer's crisp and refreshing bitter character.

Smitty's Review: Fresh bottle sampled at 45 degrees. Pours amber orange with slight haze and solid white head. Very nice citrus and floral hop aroma, almost like Fruit Loops cereal. Body is on the lighter side of medium with average carbonation. The toffee-like pale malt profile takes a back seat to the bold bitterness that gives off notes of grapefruit, pine, and tangerine. I think there is a perfect amount of residual sweetness to balance things out on the palate. Finish is bitter, dry, and grassy without lingering too long at the back of the mouth. This is a solid example of the West Coast stype IPA when fresh. During the Stone brewery tour, I sampled some warm IPA wort (unfermented beer) , which was interesting to say the least.

Recommended Food Pairing: Beef, Grilled Fish, Pork, Cured Meats, Salty and funky White Cheeses.

Where To Buy: Midtown Wine and Spirits, Mr Whiskers, Frugal McDoogal, Flying Saucer