Beer Review 0113: The Alchemist / Ninkasi / Stone More Brown Than Black IPA

Yes, that’s a mouthful. This is a collaboration beer between three different breweries — The Alchemist, Ninkasi, and Stone — part of Stone’s collaboration series. This was the fifth and final collaboration of 2011, and I’m sort of sad I’m only now getting around to drinking it, because I have been sitting on it for a while.

The story behind this beer originates when Hurricane Irene, which washed ashore in August of 2011, destroyed The Alchemist Pub and Brewery in Waterbury, Vermont. When Stone heard about the destruction, they sent an email to John Kimmich, the head brewer, asking what they could do to help. Stone ended up flying John, at the suggestion of his wife, to Southern California, where Stone is located.

It was decided that while John was at Stone, they would brew something together. Stone also contacted the Ninkasi brewery from Eugene, Oregon, and they didn’t hesitate to get involved.

The result of the brew is pretty straightforward in the name — More Brown Than Black IPA. This is a dry-hopped beer produced with Galaxy hops, which are a new hop variety from Australia that have tropical fruit characteristics. This beer comes in at 7.4% ABV (alcohol by volume) and was released limited edition style in December 2011.

All proceeds from this beer benefit the Waterbury Good Neighbor Fund. Beer with a good cause! Cheers.

Before pouring, I noticed a bunch of sediment at the bottom of the bottle.

This beer poured a visual beast — the head was large, bordering on huge, creamy in texture and long lasting. The beer was definitely tawny brown, and murky, filled with chunks of sediment. Lacing was fair, with a good coating left after each sip but it disappeared quickly.

The aromatics featured a pungent hop base; big notes of pine and grapefruit, followed by some tropical fruits and apricot. There was also some malty sweetness in the form of caramel and a very small whiff of chocolate. This beer had an almost rye-like quality to it. I thought the aroma was sensational, and it really wanted me to take a gulp.

And wow. Pine and grapefruit up front, sweet in the middle of the taste with some caramel and the tropical fruits. Mouthfeel was slick but creamy, and this one rides a very bitter, drying finish that boasts more of those tropical fruits and an unexpected taste of dark chocolate. As the long finish continued to unfurl, this beer tasted like I had eaten a piece of cake.

This is what I wrote, direct from my review sheet: “Holy crap, this is good. Wish I had more than one bottle.” Folks, this is a great beer. But the best thing about this beer is that it is so completely DIFFERENT from anything out there — this beer makes you think about stuff, it makes you stop and look off into the distance and smile, perhaps even shake your head at how good it is.

If there’s any of this remaining out there, by all means, snag it up!

The Alchemist / Ninkasi / Stone More Brown Than Black IPA, 93 points. Price: $2.99 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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