Thursday, January 03, 2008


Around September all sorts of hoopla was being raised about STONE BREWING’s 11TH ANNIVERSARY ALE, and deservedly so, 10th ANNIVERSARY ALE notwithstanding. One can almost always count on STONE to come up with some creative, style-bursting concoction to confound and amaze. I tasted the 9TH ANNIVERSARY ALE a couple of years ago near the end of its shelf life and was dazzled; didn’t dig the 10th, but hey, it happens. So when the 11th came out, there was some talk going around. “It’s a black double IPA – how did they do that?”. “It’s a hop monster, but it’s black!”. “It’s amazing”. “It’s overrated”. Thankfully, I’m here to provide the final word on STONE 11th ANNIVERSARY ALE.

After inhaling a burst of alcohol fume, and then ingesting that hot, face-reddening fusel taste with my first few sips, I knew this wasn’t to be a beer for the meek. Oh Stone, must you always prove your masculinity so overtly? Still, once you incorporate that high-ABV taste onto your palette, it’s easy to settle down and enjoy this one. It’s certainly more “Belgian” that I’d heard, and if they called it a dubbel instead of a black Double IPA I wouldn’t blink an eyelash. It’s quite chewy and thick-tasting, and there are times that that works for me, and times it doesn’t. I’m on the fence here, as drinkability suffers a bit from the high alcohol and chewiness. Flavors are deep and rich, with some licorice and perhaps some burnt grain tastes leading the way, and certainly malts like you wouldn’t believe. Pretty satisfying. 7/10.

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