July Beer of the Month- Stone 13th Annivesary Ale

I have a lot of extra time on my hands, so I figured I would review a beer. This time I am adding a few new things to my format, including a rating system. The intent is not to judge beers, but to give you blog readers a gauge on how much I like the beer. I will also factor in how the beer compares to other commercial examples of the style. I understand and appreciate that taste is subjective, especially when it comes to craft beer.

Stone Brewing 13th Anniversary Ale gets to be the lucky victim for this round. It's a one time limited release, so I wanted to give you my thoughts before it disappears for good. This is classified as an American Strong Ale, but you may see it informally referred to as an "Imperial Red Ale." I was told by a beer partner in crime (let's call him Craig) that Stone put 4.5 pounds of hops per barrel, making this their hoppiest beer to date. I am intrigued. Let's pop the cap on this bad boy.

Stone 13th Anniversary Ale-
Stone Brewing Co. - Escondido, CA

Stone 13th Anniversary Ale pours brilliant deep red with a light tan foam. Up front, the aroma is all piney, resinous and citrus hops. Upon tasting, the hops are still on the front, and they are balanced with the malty, toffee like flavors contributed from the blend of crystal and amber malts used in the brewhouse. The finish is deliciously bitter, with a touch of warmth provided by the 9.5% alcohol. Bitterness comes in at 90+ IBU.

Smitty's Review: Sampled at 50 degrees. This pours a beautiful dark copper amber with a dense beige head that diminishes to a clingy wisp. Nice bold aroma of caramel malts, fruity ale esters, and fresh hops. Heavier side of medium bodied with average carbonation. Initial flavor of dark caramel, toffee, maple, and scorched sugar that quickly transitions to an assertive piney and herbal bitterness. Finish is dry with a clingy grapefruit rind hoppiness, with notes of diluted molasses and nutty malts. Somewhat boozy and it warms the windpipe as it goes down. This beer is loaded with hops, but there is a generous amount of maltiness to counter it. Overall, this is very bold and complex. I hope they find a way to add this to the regular line. I like this better than Double Bastard or Old Guardian. If you are not into strong beers, don't say I did not warn you.

Rating*: 9.0 out of 10

Recommended Food Pairing: BBQ, grilled meats, cheese (blue, pepper jack)

Average to Good (7.99 per 22 ounce bottle)

Beer Audience: Hopheads, beer aficionados

Where To Buy: I purchased mine at Midtown, but any liquor store that carries the Stone line should get this. Very limited.

* rating system based on aroma (1 pt), appearance (1pt), palate (2 pts) flavor (3pts), comparison to other commercial examples of the style (3pts)

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