When Stone announces a new IPA I jump at the chance to try it. While it may sometimes seem as if there are enough IPAs out there, breweries always manage to find some unique way to explore the style. For this specific brew, Stone decided to explore some new varieties of hops to give this beer some flavors that you probably have not experienced before in an IPA. I know I had a difficult time describing this beer.
As you can see, this beer pours a nice golden color very similar to the Enjoy By line from Stone and the Green Bullet from Green Flash. The aromas do not linger very long but if you give it a nice sniff right away or after a little shake you will notice some bright tropical fruit and melon aromas. Many of these same flavors come through nicely in the beer itself, with delicious flavors that remind me of ripe fruit. To me it tastes like the sweetest cantaloupe you’ve ever tasted with some hints of ripe peach and pineapple. Though this is a lightly sweet brew, it is not too much. The sweetness is nicely balanced with a medium level of bitterness.
I had to wait until I opened my second bottle of this stuff to give it a rating because the flavors were so new and different. When I opened the first bottle I did a short video explaining my thoughts on this beer and as you can see below I was a bit at a loss for words. In the end this is a very satisfying IPA that explores flavors I hadn’t tasted before in an IPA. Pick up a bottle if you see it and see what I mean. Did you taste any different flavors than the ones I described in here? Let me know in the comments.
One of the larger, more established breweries in Portland is Bridgeport. Their Hop Czar has a reputation for being one of the best double IPAs. While visiting I got to try the Anniversary Series 01, Long Ball Extra Pale, IPA, Kingpin, Hop Czar, Bear Hug Cherry Chocolate Stout, Ginger Hibiscus Saison, Anniversary 2 Aussie IPA, and Old Knucklehead Barleywine.
The Anniversary Series 01 was a nice experimental hop pale ale with some smooth pine flavors though a bit too light for my tastes. The Long Ball Extra Pale had the hop profile closest to what I like with plenty of crisp lemon flavors. This is still pretty light despite the extra pale name and very sessionable. The IPA to me was a little too weak for the name at only 5.5% but it had some solid floral flavors going on.
The Kingpin was one of the better beers here. As a double red it has plenty of caramel malt flavor and some nice rye flavors to smooth it out nicely. I couldn’t taste the stronger 7.5% when drinking it. The liberty hops used to give it a little kick had a nice spice flavor to them, rounding out this one nicely. The Hop Czar was a newer batch that used some Australian hops. If I had come by for the previous batch I would have been able to try the batch made with Citra. The Australian hops were not my thing at all and the beer was overwhelmingly tart and intensely piney. I did not finish the taster.
Bear Hug Cherry Chocolate Stout was another beer that does a good job of hiding the higher alcohol content. It had a nice smooth balance of the tart cherry and smooth chocolate flavors. I’m not typically a fan of cherry but my husband quite enjoyed this one and finished the taster for me. The Ginger Hibiscus Saison was an interesting seasonal offering though the taster I had was too heavy on the ginger for my tastes. It overwhelmed the rest of the flavors completely. A great beer to try if you really like ginger.
The Anniversary 2 Aussie IPA was also not really my thing. While the Australian hops used here aren’t the same as those in the Hop Czar, both hops must have similar characteristics. This beer was also quite off-putting with a very mouth-puckering bitterness. Finally, the Old Nucklehead Barleywine was the other beer I really enjoyed here. It was the strongest beer I tried here at 9.5% and you can really taste the strength. The caramel malt flavors blended nicely with the sweetness from the bourbon barrel it was aged in. This was a smooth beer and not very bitter.
Though I was slightly disappointed by the hoppy offerings at Bridgeport I did really like the Kingpin and the Barleywine. If you like lighter hoppy beers, this is a good place to visit. I did not eat any food at this brewery while visiting.
This was probably the brewery I was most looking forward to visiting in Portland, so I naturally went there first. I ended up with two flights for a total of twelve beers while there. For some reason the majority of breweries in Portland want to only sell flights in certain pre-defined groups. This sometimes meant I had to try a few more beers than I was expecting. This was certainly the case with Deschutes.
For my first set of tasters I got the Two Step IRA, Fresh Squeezed IPA, Hop in the Dark Black IPA, Session Obsession Session IPA, Smooth Hoperator Experimental Hop Pale, and Inversion White IPA. The Imperial Red Ale was pretty much a nice strong red with a light hop flavor. The Fresh Squeezed IPA was one I expected to love and possibly even order a pint of. It had a nice bright citrus hop bite and wasn’t overly bitter but it didn’t seem to have the same intense flavor that I am used to in San Diego.
The Hop in the Dark Black IPA was not particularly hoppy or bitter and mostly had flavors of smoky roasted malts. It didn’t impress me on either the dark flavors or the hop flavors. I don’t expect it would seriously satisfy hop heads or those into stouts. The Session IPA was a solid presentation of the now-popular style. It had some solid hop flavors without the bitterness of other sessions. Still, the hop profile wasn’t grabbing me.
The Experimental Pale Ale was quite nice for a lighter color pale. The hop flavors were largely towards the pine. It was a beer I would have enjoyed to buy in a six-pack. The Inversion White IPA was surprisingly malty tasting for the style and not particularly hoppy. Overall, it seemed to be a nice balanced brew but didn’t have the hop flavors that I have come to expect.
At the end of Round 1 of Deschutes, I was starting to wonder if I was going to find anything that blew me away. In Round 2 I explore the second set of six beers I tasted while visiting Deschutes.
Stone has been making IPAs for so long that inevitably they would feel an urge to push the envelope when it comes to flavor. Earlier this year they put out an intense grapefruit IPA and this latest experiment brings in two rockers to add in the fun. Collective Distortion is brewed with a base of an undisclosed hop variety and adds on top of that the flavors of elderberry and coriander.
I was a bit curious what exactly an elderberry is so I did a little reading online. According to Wikipedia it is similar to the huckleberry and the blueberry. Some areas commonly use elderberry to make wines and cordials as well as sweet syrups from the blossoms. Most of these flavors are more commonly enjoyed around Europe so it adds an interesting twist to a San Diego beer.
Poured into a glass, Collective Distortion is an amber color right in the middle of the color scale for IPAs. The beer in the glass pictured is not collective distortion. When I first had some at a friend’s house I could barely taste the berries under the flavor of the hops. In contrast, the bottle I had at home was much more tart from the berries with some nice mellow coriander flavors complimenting the flavors nicely. It is certainly a bitter brew although it didn’t have the overwhelming bright citrus flavor you might expect from a Stone IPA.
I was quite satisfied with what I tasted in this brew although I am not sure that I would rush out to buy a case. I still tend towards the citrus focus on my IPAs. This is certainly a beer that every IPA fan should grab and try at least once.