If you can get your mitts on a bottle of Stone Brewing’s 13th Anniversary Ale, I highly suggest you do so. However, if you’re lucky enough to come into possession of such a thing, make sure you’re sitting down with nowhere in particular to go and that you’re well prepared for the ensuing flavor battle about to take place in your mouth. Simply put, this is one monster of a beer!
The first imperial/double red ale brewed by Stone — specifically to celebrate their 13th year of brewing (in case you couldn’t guess) — is made using more hops per barrel than anything they’ve ever brewed. Chinook hops were used for bittering and flavor, during the boil. The beer was then dry-hopped with a 50/50 blend of Simcoe and Centennial hops. Plus, Stone then dry-hopped it again just prior to filtering and packaging. It was the first bottled beer they’ve ever produced utilizing their famous “double dry-hop” technique.
The beer pours a gorgeous deep, dark amber red color with a neat light tan head; a color not seen nearly enough. And the smell of pine and citrus from all those dry hops is both intense and instant. This beer smells great! But even better than the nose is the way this sucker tastes.
I was a little worried that the taste was going to be all hops (don’t get me wrong, I do like my hop bombs…) but I was happily mistaken. While the hop character is still there — and how could it not be with all those hops used — and you get plenty of citrus and pine up front, there is plenty of balance in this beer with a lot of biscuit and toffee flavors from the malt coming through in the finish. It’s a really interesting combination as the two intensely different flavors of the hops and the malt duke it out on your taste buds. And last but not least, there is a little warming effect in the finish, which I’m sure stems from the 9.5% ABV.
Not sure how much longer this beer will be available (perhaps until their 14th anniversary?) but be sure and get a bottle while you can. And drink it when you get it, as the bottle itself recommends against aging. With an overall A- rating from nearly 300 reviews on BeerAdvocate, this beer is a definite don’t miss!