Double India Pale Ales (IPA) are famously aggressive and bitter beers with huge, citrusy hop flavors, big malt backbones, and high alcohol content. Stone Brewing Company has built its business around these aggressive flavors. The Escondido, California brewer's 16th Anniversary IPA doesn't disappoint.
You don't need to stick your nose deep into the glass to catch the lemon and grapefruit characters lent by the hops and the addition of lemon verbena. Lemon is an unusual aroma in an IPA, and it's not at all unwelcome here, as it blends in nicely with the hops. The flavor is equally distinct, with a hint of sweetness that, coupled with the lemon smell, comes away as mango. While so many beers in this style have either a palette-punishing harsh bitterness or a thick syrupy malt sweetness, Stone's 16th Anniversary IPA has a firm, but not crushing, bitterness – and it finishes bone dry.
The Stone 16th Anniversary IPA comes in a 22-ounce "bomber" bottle with Stone's signature beer-drinking Gargoyle on the label. At 10 percent alcohol a beer, this drinkable IPA ought to come with a helmet as well. We split a bottle and enjoyed it with some toasty guajillo salsa. You should pair yours with something equally bold to stand up to the aggressive hop flavors of this beer, as it will drown out anything light or subtle. The Stone 16th Anniversary IPA is available in 34 states, but production is limited, so grab one while you can. [findstonebeer.com]