It’s always interesting (whether or not it’s good is a whole nother debate) when a brewery bucks a trend in brewing. And while many breweries are pushing out beers that are meant to be aged in dark caverns for years before being enjoyed, Stone Brewing has countered with a beer that twists this trend on its ear – a beer you have 35, and only 35, days to enjoy.
Their latest project is a series of beers produced to push the boundaries of freshness – the Enjoy By IPA series. Well actually that sentence is a little misleading. It should say, their latest project is a beer produced to push the boundaries of freshness – the Enjoy By IPA, because in fact, there is only one beer.
What Stone is doing is releasing each batch of Enjoy By specifically designated by that batch’s bottling/kegging date which is boldly presented on the label, a date that is a mere 35 days from the day it’s packaged. Only one or two bottlings are available at any given time, and in order to make sure that each batch gets on the shelves as quickly as possible, each batch is only released into smaller select areas of Stone’s total distribution market. And when the date on the calendar matches the one on the label of the bottle? The beers are pulled from the shelf.
Sound like a marketing ploy to simply drive “beer frenzy”? Well I could see how you might think that. And it doesn’t help that charge that Stone has a page specifically designated to track which batches are available, which batches are about to be released and and to which areas these new batches will be shipped to. Large counters ominously tick down showing you how much longer you have to enjoy each batch. There’s even a button to cast a vote for Enjoy By to come to your area.
So is Enjoy By IPA another fine beer in the Stone Brewing line-up, or just another gimmick intended to generated beer hysteria? Let’s Taste.
THEM: I couldn’t find a grain bill for Enjoy By, which is no big deal because this is not a beer to discuss grain, this is a beer to discuss hops – because there’s more than a few of them in it. Unlike traditional beers that get all or most of their bittering from additions of hops early in the boil, Enjoy By gets a small amount of its bitterness from an initial addition of hops, but gets the lion’s share of its bitter thanks to hops that are added later to the boil for flavoring. Flavor addition hops, that are only boiled for a short time, will add a small about of bitter to the beer but in order to get enough bitter to balance a double IPA you have to add a barrel load. And Stone does. Literally. This technique is called “hop bursting”, and isn’t new to brewing, although I’m not aware of anyone doing on this scale. The technique allows you to hump a ton of hop flavor into beer overly proportional to the amount of bitter that’s going in. The end result? A beer that can be as smooth as you want, with a super intense hop flavor.
They start with an extract from Super Galena early in the boil to give the beer a slight start in bitterness and then make flavoring additions of Simcoe, Delta and Amarillo. Once the beer is in the whirlpool, it gets another dose of hops in the form of a blend of Motueka, Citra and Cascade. The finished beer is dry hopped (one pound of each per barrel) with Nelson Sauvin and Galaxy. Total bitterness clocks in at 88 IBUs. Alcohol chimes in at 9.4% ABV.
ME: I’m doing a criminal act because I’m actually drinking this after 04.01.13 because I just didn’t get to it, but that doesn’t seem to matter any because this thing is a hop monster. Oh sure, there’s a nice touch of malt in both the nose and the flavor of this cloudy, amber beer to balance this puppy out but make no mistake this beer is all about the hops.
I’m not usually a fan of these types of beers but I have to admit this is kind of interesting, mostly because it’s a master class in hops. This is “everybody in the pool”; grassy tones, strong grapefruit, along with lemon and tropical fruit notes from the down under hops, a touch of pepper spice. The aroma and taste are both excellent examples of everything this collection of hops has to offer, without one attribute over shadowing all the others. I think the reason I’m liking this beer more than most hop bombs is easily summed up with the phrase, “it’s not boring”.
Oh, but there’s a price. The finish isn’t overly bitter, that’s the whole idea behind brewing a beer with this technique, but after a while my mouth experienced what I call “hop burn” – that prickling coating on the tongue and roof of your mouth that tells you something in this beer has cross wired nerve endings in there. If you’re not a fan of this type of humulus lupulus pimp handing, then walk away and buy another beer. Heck, you might want to stay away from the beers on either side of this one just to be safe that where was no osmosis through the glass.
Over all, I don’t know how to feel about this. On the one hand it is a fairly interesting beer, although not one that I’d drink on a regular occasion. On the other, I don’t think this thing is going to self destruct in 35 days,
No, that was “self destruct in 5 seconds”. But good try.
Gone in 60 Seconds, I don’t think….
And, that’s the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. Look, you’re really not getting this. Why don’t you go play in the yard for awhile and let me finish this review.
Anyway, so the whole “Enjoy By” thing smells a bit of beer frenzy marketing, which I’m not a fan of. In fact, I think this thing might age interestingly with all the hops in it, and I look forward to all the “aged Enjoy By” blog reviews that are forth coming because you know someone out there is squirreling this away just because they feel the need they should.
If you missed 04.01.13 don’t fret, 05.17.13 should start hitting the shelves in Delaware and the surrounding states in a day or two.
Time for another beer.