Guest Blog: Stone 13th Anniversary Ale
Nothing like a good guest blog to remind this beer writer that he’s been doing too much of the former and not enough of the latter in that self-appointed title. What can I say, things got busy in student land. Although that probably pales in comparison to full time working, school attending, father of two Shayne. Plus, since I first started writing, he’s been a champion of this blog on the ol’ interwebs. That considered, I’m honored Shayne took time out to write a guest blog for me.
This is also very timely in that Stone’s 14th Anniversary Ale debuted on shelves in San Diego on Monday, June 21st – the day Shayne sent me the review of the 13th Anniversary Ale. According to Stone Illinois’ Facebook page, the midwest should start seeing this in early July.
Brewery: Stone Brewing Company
Beer: Stone 13th Anniversary Ale, 22 oz. bottle, aged one year
Style: American Strong Ale
POP: CityWide Liquors, downtown South Bend, IN
I’ve been friends with Brian for over 15 years, which not only makes me feel old, but also makes me feel happy to know that I’ve had the pleasure to have such a good guy in my life for such a long time. When he enthusiastically told me about his beer blog, being a beer nerd/snob myself, one of the first questions I asked him was if he would accept guest writers on his blog. He said in the Brian way we have all come to know and love, “Sure, why not.”
Being a writer and good beer enthusiast, I felt like I had to have something that would be “worthy” of talking about on a beer blog. I like good beer, and I have an interesting palate, so for me to be surprised you gotta go either big, or really strange. I feel that this is a mixture of both. I have a beer fridge down in my basement full of all kinds of great, wonderful, and wild flavors that would fulfill almost every palate. From stouts and porters, to lagers and pilsners, I have a beer for every mood, meal, or attitude. In addition to my own collection of tasty pleasures, I have friends that bring over carbonated bliss to challenge my extremely judgmental palate. This Stone 13th anniversary was one that a friend brought over that found its way into the beer fridge and somehow got hidden, tucked away, and forgotten about until almost exactly a year later. I’m sure in that year of patiently waiting it enjoyed great conversation with its American, German, and Hungarian counterparts. I’m sure it was wondering why so many had gone before it. It was hiding something fantastic for me and I’m so glad I found this one year later.
I usually don’t age many beers. I do have some New Holland Dragon’s Milk that will be a year old in August, and a couple Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA’s that I’m waiting for that special day to pop open. Other than that, it’s usually in the fridge for a pretty short time. Like I said previously, this double deuce of Stone 13th anniversary just stayed out of sight. Popping it open, I get the hoppy Stone trademark smell, with a fruity aroma. It pours as a deep amber color. The head is surprisingly thick at first, and licking like an ice cream cone I get the subtle tones of the greatness that is to come. Upon drinking cold, the hoppiness is the first taste that hits the palate. But it is quickly overtaken by a smoky fruit flavor that can best be described as smoked figs or dates. The aftertaste is the best part. The smoky fruitiness floats in your mouth as the bitter hop becomes nasal. It crescendos into a thin coating on the roof of your mouth and tongue with the flavor of what can best be described as thus: Imagine you ate a handful of slightly bitter raisins that have been grilled or smoked for a long time and set out to cool. Then imagine the juices that would explode in your mouth as you bit into them. Throw some slight carbonation in to add flare to the party, and this is the experience you get. It is wonderful. It gets even better as it warms when the smoky fruitiness takes over and you’re left smiling after every sip and savor.
I found it amusing that after I disposed of this fantastic flavor explosion, I scanned the bottle for the alcohol content, (It’s 9.5% ABV, probably more after a year in the fridge but hey…) and it said clearly on the bottle, DO NOT CELLAR, ENJOY IN 2009. I didn’t exactly cellar it, since it was in a cold fridge for over a year, but still funny. I raise my glass and toast. Here’s to not reading the sides of bottles and enjoying the happy surprises that are hidden and tucked away for occasions such as guest writers on a good friend’s blog. Cheers.