Beer Review 0377: Stone Enjoy By 05.17.13 Imperial IPA

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Wait, you’ve reviewed this one before! You might be saying that, and indeed I have; recently, I tasted Stone Enjoy By 04.01.13 IPA, and rated it a classic 98 points. But we’re going to do a little experiment here…

Unquestionably, the Enjoy By beers from Stone (Escondido, California) are, in my opinion, the most interesting brews to come around in quite a while. If you’re new to the game, Stone brew this IPA specifically not to last, bringing attention to the importance of bottle dating, especially on the IPA style. Using social media, Stone gauge which area of the country is seeking the beer the most; they brew it, bottle it, and ship it quickly to distributors. The window to sell the beer is about thirty-five days; after the date on the bottle, shops are asked to cease selling any remaining bottles and send them back to the distributor, because they are no longer the product Stone intended it to be.

The immediate question that came to my mind after having the 04.01.13 version was, “does this vary by batch?” The answer is YES, it can — Stone say each version can vary slightly depending on the hops that are currently in season. The bad thing is they don’t tell you what hops are used on any version, so you technically don’t know if any two batches are different. Which is why I’m reviewing this again — is it different? We’re going to find out.

Now, the second reason why I’m giving this beer another look: I had several bottles of Enjoy By 04.01.13, and I didn’t get around to drinking my final bottle until a few days after the expiration date. You know what I found? It tasted even BETTER AFTER it’s enjoy by date! This isn’t a new phenomenon, either — I think Bell’s Hopslam (my rating: 100 points) tastes better after being in the bottle for a month or so.

I’m going to review Enjoy By 05.17.13 now, which as of this writing, is 20 day old beer — I noticed that this edition has the actual bottling date (April 12) stamped on it, where 04.01.13 did not feature this information. I have a second bottle of Enjoy By 05.17.13 that I’m going to store refrigerated until June 17, when I will redux review it. At that point, the beer will be 66 days old, which is nearly double the time Stone want you to have it by, but still falls in the regularly accepted 90-day shelf life of most IPAs. So, stay tuned for the redux review, and until then, enjoy this review of the current Enjoy By!

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The pour gave up a small, soapy head that lasted atop a sunshine golden liquid. The body had a fair amount of haze to it, but was still translucent and free of particles and sediment. Lacing was good, leaving some patchy sheets stuck to the glass.

There’s no other way to describe the aroma other than a hop explosion! Up front, there’s tons of pine and tropical fruits. It’s sweet and reminds me of fruit juice concentrate. To further the fruity aromas, there’s plenty of lemon, lime and orange, too; and new for this version: a ton of peaches! The malt is light and simply provides some sweet grain. I could use this as cologne, but it must be consumed instead.

The taste offers those ripe, juicy tropical fruits, pineapple and mango especially, and then a touch of grass/grain. This beer is sweet initially, but the middle of the mouth brings on the bitterness that will see it to the end: pine and grapefruit take over, there’s a dankness, and the closing note dries out the palate and leaves you wanting more. The alcohol content is completely hidden; Enjoy By 05.17.13 is medium-bodied, with a medium, creamy and drying mouthfeel.

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The three big differences between Enjoy By 05.17.13 and 04.01.13:

-Less head
-Less lacing
-Tons of peaches on the nose

The beer tastes pretty much the same, and it’s still delicious and highly drinkable. As far as Imperial IPAs go, this one walks a perfect balance between sweetness and bitterness, giving you punches of both without either being overwhelming or dominating.

We will see how this one turns out next month. Stay tuned!

Stone Enjoy By 05.17.13 Imperial IPA, 96 points. Price: $7.49 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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