Beer Review 0335: Stone Enjoy By 04.01.13 Imperial IPA
I haven’t even tasted this beer yet, but I love the concept and have extremely high hopes.
Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, California) have made history with their Enjoy By IPA — this is a beer that after bottling, sees expedited shipping to handpicked markets across the United States, making sure the elixir found within the bottle is as fresh as possible, like an IPA should be.
In fact, Stone says this beer is “brewed not to last,” with a devastating amount of hops. There’s no telling the amount of effort Stone have put into the extraordinary fast shipping time; the logistics behind it all must be staggering. Here in North Carolina, our first taste of this beer comes with the Enjoy By 04.01.13 edition, which was bottled on February 22. Here I am, reviewing it on March 2nd…which means it shipped across country and was distributed in a mere eight days. Eight day old beer from California!
On April 1, if any of this beer is still left on shelves, distributors have orders to destroy it. We make no secrets about bottle dating on this website and how important it is to beer; on my review sheet, there is a special place where I record if there is a date on the bottle or not, and my opinion of the beer is often influenced if there isn’t a clearly legible date. That’s not a problem here, as it’s printed in about size 50 font right on the front of the bottle.
Stone have released four previous editions of this beer and while they don’t tell you which hops or malts they use, they do divulge that batches may differ slightly due to which hops are in season and which aren’t. Enjoy By uses a technique called “hop bursting” where very few hops are put in at the beginning of the boil (known as bittering hops) but scads of hops are added late in the boil (known as aroma/flavor hops). The beer is 9.4% ABV (alcohol by volume) and if you’ve yet to see this appear in your market, Stone encourages you to use social media to talk to them. Apparently the louder your voice, the more sway you have with attaining the beer.
Out of the bottle, Enjoy By produces an average size head, creamy and fluffy, bright white atop a solid gold beer. It’s crystal clear, nearly sparkling, with bubbles zooming to the surface from the bottom of the glass. There’s no particles or sediment to be found, and the lacing left behind is of great quality, reminding me very much of puffy clouds stuck to the side of my glass.
Bring on the hops! Full assault of alpha acids on the nose; big resinous pine was the first scent to hit, followed by a massive load of tropical fruit. Think: Christmas tree Hawaiian Punch, with a side of oranges and fresh cut grass. Layer upon layer of hops — dig deeper and you’ll find some hot garlic and even some hemp-like aromas. There is a light brush of grainy malt, but let’s face it…this isn’t balanced and it surely isn’t supposed to be. If you don’t like hops, leave this on the shelf for someone that does.
The palate presents ripe tropical fruit up front that mixes with a grassy component, some dark pine and grapefruit rind. Enjoy By has a medium mouthfeel with a creamy texture, but by the halfway point in the taste, the tongue starts to get dry as the initial small hit of sweetness transitions into a moderately to heavy bitterness. Lots of dank pine at the end of the sip, along with some of the tropical fruits from before, but faded, like the Hawaiian Punch you finished five minutes ago. The alcohol is here, but it’s more of a feeling rather than a flavor. Carbonation is a little above average, and the beer is medium-bodied.
An incredible logistics feat for sure, this is also an incredible beer. A prime, perhaps dictionary definition of how great fresh beer can truly be, the gimmick here is backed up in spades by the flavor, and especially the aroma. While this is a damn fine Imperial IPA in flavor, there’s much more complexity going on in the aroma, which leads me to wonder if perhaps the hopping schedule should have some very minor adjustments.
Another thing: in the world of Imperial IPAs, there’s often a fine line walked between too sweet and too bitter. This one is note perfect, giving off just the right amount of sweetness to make it dangerously drinkable, and a genius amount of bitterness to make the palate crave more and satisfy the most hop-thirsty lupulus lover.
Stone Enjoy By 04.01.13 Imperial IPA, 98 points. Price: $7.49 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.