Jul 10 2009

Stone 13th Anniversary Celebration Ale Review

I grabbed a Stone 13th Anniversary Celebration Ale on draft at Timberwood Grill on the way home from the gym last night.  It is an Imperial Red ale and it clocks in at 9.5% ABV.  Stone says they used more hops per barrel in this brew than any beer that they’ve made before, which is impressive in and of itself.  The starting gravity is 22.5 Plato (about 1.094 by my messy math) which means they backed up those hops with a ton of malt, too.

stone 13th label small

This one came in a brandy snifter, and the color was that of a dark mahogany with sparing ruby highlights.  The head was creamy, beige and persistent.  The smell was what I was expecting: a nosegasm of simcoe pine and centennial grapefruit.  In the end was a bit of sweet melon.  Perhaps honeydew or cantaloupe.  The resins were tangible, and almost seemed to add a sort of texture.

stone 13th

The taste continues that theme, but the malt kicks in with some sweetness and noticeable alcohol warming.  In another beer, these two attributes would be overwhelming but they are keenly balanced with the landslide of hops in the 13th.

As it warms, the malt blossoms a bit more and the hops settle down for the ride.  Amazingly, despite the size of this beast, it is very drinkable.  I could certainly have a few of these over the course of an evening.

As a side note, I thought the back label on the bottle (I have an unopened one at home) had an interesting line:

“No matter where you are, we are thankful and hugely flattered when you choose Stone.  However, if you’re outside of our region and you often choose a quality craft beer that is more local, we understand.”

This is a very cool sentiment that echoes Greg Koch’s mission to encourage locavores.  The label also alludes to Stone rolling through their teenage years, which is a departure from Arrogant Bastard-speak of the past.  I had heard that Greg mentioned needing to write the label for this brew during the SAVOR weekend in DC.  It is easy to see how the camaraderie of brewers of that event facilitated those words and beliefs.  It was strange for me to read at first, but it sounds like a company that is growing up and becoming a leader in the craft brewing industry that it deserves to be.

On the bottle, they tell you to drink the Stone 13th Anniversary Celebration Ale now and to not age or cellar it. 

Good advice, I say.