Stone’s Enjoy By Double IPA is a great way to educate the general public about the importance of freshness when it comes to IPA. A good IPA will last for about 2-3 months before it becomes skunky. It can be so significant that a beer that was really well done at first is hard to enjoy six months down the road. With the Enjoy By series from Stone, Stone gets the beer out to stores within a week of brewing so that you know it is going to be fresh while you drink it before the enjoy date.
Rich grapefruit and citrus flavors from the hops come through good and strong. This beer is light on the malts compared to the ordinary Stone IPA that I find a little too strong on the malts. The delicious flavors are made even better because you know it is going to be fresh when you drink it. I buy this over other similar beers because I don’t always know how fresh my IPAs are. Hopefully this will get other breweries to start posting enjoy by dates on the bottles. Freshness is so important that I love to buy IPAs from smaller breweries that don’t last long enough to become bad.
If you love hops you probably already wait with baited breath for the next batch of Enjoy By. If you haven’t tried this beer yet, you will find it to be a delicious adventure in hops.
Temecula is a bit far for me to go to hit up breweries right now. I may eventually make it up to hit up the breweries there but until then I rely on breweries with big enough distribution to get beer down to San Diego. I couldn’t resist when I saw Descend Black IPA at Bottlecraft in Downtown San Diego. It was everything I hoped for and I will certainly keep an eye out for more from this brewery in the future.
I could smell the hops on the nose quite nicely though they don’t really show up in the flavor. To me Black IPAs have always been a strange beast. What separates it from a hoppy porter? Hard to say. This one certainly has a lot more in common with a bitter porter than anything else. On the front I could taste a strong bitter chocolate flavor. The bottle claims there is a malty caramel flavor on the back end. I could taste it but just barely. This would have been too bitter for my husband but totally hit the spot for me.
I remembered enjoying the double IPA from Mission Brewing the last time I was there so I couldn’t resist the idea of two 32oz cans when I saw them at Costco. The beer pours thick and amber. First thought on tasting it was “where are the hops?” I can taste some strong caramel flavor followed by some tropical fruit and citrus hops in the background.
I’m not sure what it is that leads double IPAs to be made so malty but this one is far too malty for my tastes. If you enjoy the flavors of Green Bullet I would stay far away from this one. I can’t believe I bought two 32oz cans of this. It is a bit too syrupy sweet for my flavors. Glad I had someone to share this can with. I couldn’t even drink a pint before I was ready to move on to something else.
Alesmith has some delightful beer names and labels inspired by horror movies. I really enjoyed the Evil Dead Red last year so I was excited to see similarities listed for this one. My Bloody Valentine is a delicious dark beer with a hoppy after taste. At times it is smoky and a little caramel flavor. The hops are on the floral side and are balanced with it nicely. Light flavor of bittersweet chocolate rounds it out nicely.
The fresh batch was just released this week so make sure you grab some before it is done. It might hang around a little bit after Valentine’s day but probably not too long. I was quite satisfied with the first bottle and look forward to trying it on tap at the brewery soon.
I am not exclusively including beers that were first introduced in 2013 but I limited this to San Diego beers because otherwise I would never be able to come up with 10. I also excluded any specialty versions of existing beers. This means cask or nitro versions of certain beers are not eligible, nor are barrel aged beers that are only available on tap for a day or two and then gone.
1. Green Bullet – Green Flash (Triple IPA)
This is my new gold standard for insane hops in a beer. I was lucky enough to try this when it was first debuted in late 2012 for a very short time at the brewery. For most people though, this is a 2013 beer because it was made much more broadly available in bottles. It is pure New Zealand hops all the way and gives me all the hop flavors that I am addicted to.
2. Stone Punishment (Double Bastard barrel aged and infused with spicy peppers)
This is the only barrel aged beer on the list and it counts because it was bottled and made widely available. Though it would be a favorite simply because of how spicy it is what gets this on the list is the complex flavors that it has besides the heat. Some sweetness is present from the barrel aging as well as all the complex flavors of double bastard itself. Though this was the most expensive beer I had all year it was totally worth it.
3. Stone Enjoy by IPA (Double IPA with a clear enjoy by date)
Though half of what makes Enjoy By so good is that it is going to be fresh when you have some, it is also just a deliciously balanced double IPA. The brilliant thing about this beer is that the batches are kept small enough so that it sells out pretty quickly. The next batch comes out pretty soon so make sure you grab a bottle of the first Enjoy By batch of 2014.
4. Humbly Legit IPA – New English Brewing
I wasn’t expecting this to blow me away as much as it did. When I first had it on tap I just loved the hop-forward flavor of this beer. For a brewery that originally focused on English styles of beer, this one is up there with the best IPAs in San Diego.
5. Perseus IPA – Intergalactic Brewing
One of my favorite IPAs comes from a newer brewery that knows how to satisfy those who prefer a lighter colored IPA. Because the brewery is fairly small, it doesn’t last long enough to become skunky. I had quite a few growler fills of this beer throughout the year and can’t wait for the next batch to show up.
6. Blazing World – Modern Times (Hoppy Amber)
I left the brewery with a four pack of cans as soon as I tried this one and I already bought a few more since then. The nelson hops are prominent and give this a delicious flavor that would satisfy any hop head.
7. Evil Dead Red – Alesmith (Imperial Red with some strong hop flavors)
It was a toss up between this and the Winter Yulesmith. Both gave me plenty of hops in a satisfying darker brew. I ultimately gave the spot to Evil Dead Red because it was so unexpected. If you liked this one, make sure you get out and buy a bottle of My Bloody Valentine, already in stores.
8. Hop Therapy Double IPA – Rough Draft
I really enjoy a lot of the IPAs Rough Draft makes but I ultimately gave the spot to the double IPA because it is nice to see a solid double that is always around. There is a huge difference in taste if you have this one fresh so if it doesn’t have enough hop flavor for you give it another try.
9. Ballast Point Victory at Sea Imperial Porter
Though I love a lot of different Ballast Point beers, this one got the spot because the coffee flavors were just what I needed. Another favorite that almost made this list was the Fathom India Pale Lager, which has now become a mainstay.
10. Green Flash Symposium IPA
I’ve always found the West Coast to be a bit too heavy on the malts so this lighter colored IPA was just what I needed. I hope to see it available in bottles with a fresh batch in 2014.