Beer Review 0476: Stone R&R Coconut IPA

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Imagine how exciting it must be to have one of your homebrewed creations made on a massive scale and distributed across a vast distribution network — Robert Masterson and Ryan Reschan now know that feeling, after their Coconut IPA won Stone Brewing Co.’s annual homebrewing contest.

Using piña coladas as inspiration, Robert and Ryan collided hops and coconut to produce a beer that wowed the judging panel, and the grand prize saw them brew their beer at the Escondido, California brewery earlier this year and having it go out to the 39 states that Stone distributes in.

After the competition, Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele was excited to get started on the brew, but there was one obstacle: two hops in the original recipe couldn’t be obtained. That’s when brewers Paul Sangster and Guy Shobe were called in from Rip Current Brewing Company, a nearby upstart, to pitch ideas for suitable replacements. It was decided that a mix of Centennial, Calypso, Amarillo, Simco, Helga, and Belma could recreate the piña colada magic of the original. A test batch was brewed on the Rip Current pilot system, reaffirming suspicions; after the a-ok, the Stone batch features an addition of 280 pounds of flaked coconut, introduced to the beer after dry-hopping. R&R Coconut IPA comes in at 7.7% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 90 IBUs (International Bitterness Units), and is a limited release.

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The pour delivered an average size, bright white and soapy head that had a lasting quality. The beer was dark golden in color and had just a hint of haze to the body; otherwise, this is translucent and features no particles or sediment. Lacing is pretty good, patching up the glass with thin, weepy foam.

On the aroma, we’ve got a heavily hopped beer with absolutely no coconut. Initial notes are of grapefruit and orange juice; further investigation reveals a wide swath of mango, papaya and apricot. There’s even a little peach in here — the malt backing doesn’t have much teeth to it, perhaps giving off a little caramel and biscuit sweetness. The scent is like a heavily-hopped, tropical leaning IPA, which isn’t too far off from Stone’s modus operandi.

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Flavor-wise, this one opens really bitter with some grapefruit peel before fleshing out into more of a tropical fruit experience with a flash of creamy toasted coconut here and there. You take a sip, get some bitterness, then some mango and tropical fruit juice concentrate sweetness and then BAM! a hit of coconut. Then back to bitterness, and R&R is massively bitter — the finish comes on a bit medicinal (crushed aspirin) and mixes with some dark notes of pine. Right after the swallow, the coconut comes out again, and it returns when you click your tongue to the roof of your mouth. But the coconut doesn’t linger, and that sure is a shame, because it’s the best part of the beer. R&R is medium-bodied, with a thin, quite creamy mouthfeel.

I felt like I was running a race whilst drinking this beer — chasing coconut. ‘Tis a shame, because this is a great, brutally bitter IPA, that’s missing the main ingredient…COCONUT! It’s there, but it’s kind of like eating a rib — you’re going to fight for the good stuff. An extremely solid beer, but I had to dock points for the missing drupe.

Stone R&R Coconut IPA, 88 points. Price: $7.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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