STONE, Enjoy by 9.21.12 IPA

Press release from the Stone Brewing Company.  This sounds pretty cool:



ESCONDIDO, Calif. (August 20, 2012) — Stone Enjoy By 09.21.12 IPA is devastatingly fresh. Yes, devastatingly. Why? It’s specifically brewed NOT to last. Imagine a beer that MUST be consumed by the date prominently featured on the front in order to preserve its hoppy goodness. Well Stone fans, imagine no more. Stone Brewing Co. is unleashing said beer in Chicago, New Jersey and Southern California, enter “Stone Enjoy By 09.21.12 IPA.” This amazingly fresh double IPA is loaded with hops—11 different varieties to be exact, giving the beer a massive hop profile and a balanced palate of bitterness and dryness.

“At Stone we take freshness seriously, so much so that we laser-etch the Enjoy By date on each bottle,” Greg Koch, Stone Brewing Co. CEO and co-founder stated. “However, Stone Enjoy By IPA is a project that takes freshness to an entirely new level.”

The “Enjoy By” date printed on each bottle is reflective of a 35-day package-to-drink cycle, meaning to fully maximize the beer’s hop glory, it must be consumed before or by the end of the 35-day cycle. And Stone is making sure it will be; on September 22, if any beer remains on the shelf it will be immediately removed. This is an unprecedented feat of coordination by Stone…but this beer is worth it. How can you locate one of these awesomely fresh bottles? Visit and use the interactive map to find exactly which retailers, restaurants and bars are carrying the beer, either in bottles or on draft. If it looks like Stone Enjoy By 09.21.12 IPA isn’t at a location near you don’t fret, we will unleash this beer to other markets in the future!

Since Stone Enjoy By 09.21.12 IPA is a very limited release, Stone Brewing Co. will measure “buzz” for the beer through the company’s social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (StoneBrewingCo) and the Enjoy By IPA website. Fans of the beer will be able to express their desire to get Stone Enjoy By IPA back in their city by using any or all of these. Hopheads are encouraged to comment, tweet, Instagram, and share with fellow hop enthusiasts in real time, all in one place….ohh, did we mention go to

Stone Enjoy By 09.21.12 IPA social media mavens are encouraged to use the following hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to plead for the beer’s return to their city, or just preach the sheer awesomeness of this IPA:

Southern California fans: #EnjoyBy #SoCal
Chicago fans: #EnjoyBy #Chi
New Jersey fans: #EnjoyBy #NJ

Stone Enjoy By 09.21.12 IPA

Blog Post:

Stats: 9.4% abv, 88 IBUs
Availability: Limited 22-ounce bottles and draft, beginning August 17
Hops bill: Calypso, Super Galena, Simcoe, Delta, Target, Amarillo, Motueka, Citra, Cascade, New Zealand Nelson Sauvin, and Australian Galaxy
Distribution: Southern California, Chicago and New Jersey

Mitch Steele

Tasting Notes, provided by Brewmaster Mitch Steele

Appearance: Golden with a creamy white head
Aroma: Intense dank hoppiness, resin, peaches, and hints of tropical fruit are all evident in the aroma.
Taste: Smooth malt upfront, quickly dissipating into a massive onslaught of hops.  The dankness and peach come through strongly.
Palate: Smooth, hints of alcohol, and a perfect balance of bitterness and dryness on the back end.
Overall: We took the opportunity with this beer to use several interesting techniques we’ve learned during our many years of brewing great Double IPAs.  The result is an intense dry beer with very little malt sweetness, but with plenty of malt flavor to provide a background to the enormous…or shall I say “ginormous” hop character.

Hopping, as might be expected, was over the top. First, the brew was mash-hopped with Calypso, a beautiful fruity hop that we also used in our Stone 16th Anniversary IPA, after which we kettle-hopped with a very small dose of Super Galena hop extract for bittering. Then, using a technique known in homebrew circles as “hop bursting,” we loaded up very heavily on the flavor hops at the end of the boil and in the whirlpool. Simcoe, Delta, Target and Amarillo were used in the late kettle hop. Motueka, Citra, and Cascade were used for the whirlpool hop. As you can clearly tell, this beer was super hoppy even before we dry-hopped it, but then we went for it…dry-hopping with one pound per barrel EACH of New Zealand Nelson Sauvin and Australian Galaxy. Drink extra-super-dank-and-tasty Stone Enjoy By 09.21.12 IPA well before its 35-day shelf life to maximize the pungent glory that this beautiful, intense hop profile provides.

"Dr." Bill Sysak

Suggested food pairings, provided by “Dr.” Bill Sysak

Appetizers: Guacamole, kimchi, salt and pepper shrimp (or tofu), sausage-stuffed jalapeños
Main course: Chicken-fried steak, Merguez sausage, gumbo, chile relleno, Thai drunken noodles
Dessert: Carrot cake, peach cobbler, ginger spice cake, pumpkin cheesecake
Cheeses: Parmigiano-Reggiano, extra aged Cheddar, Rogue Creamery Caveman Blue, Mimolette
Cigars: Alec Bradley Trilogy Authentic Corojo, Altadis U.S.A Edición Limitada, Camacho Select


Craft Beer Bars: The Cloverleaf Tavern

ImageThe Cloverleaf Tavern in Caldwell, NJ was the first craft beer bar I ever went to.  I’d heard about the bar’s signature beer promo:  The MBA.  The MBA stands for a Master of Beer Appreciation.  It’s the greatest idea in the history of beer ideas.

When you sign up, you get a card with a list of beers on it.  Ales, IPAs, Lagers, Belgians, Seasonals and more.  Every time you have a beer on the list (start with the seasonal that’s in season so they don’t run out)… it gets checked off.  After a year,–yeah it takes about a year)–you get your degree.  Your name up on a plaque, a gift card, a t-shirt, and the right to drink out of a 20 oz glass when everyone else gets a regular old pint. 

I got to try some great beers when going for my MBA (of course I have it).  Dogfish Head Old School was probably the highlight, drinking that to substitute for Dogfish Head 120–which was out that year.  Plus, there are some “regular” beers to help initiate the uninitiated… like Stella Artois.  Flying Dog Doggie Style Pale Ale was a great one as well.

But getting your MBA is just the start.  After that, you move on to the PhD–you guessed it (or maybe you didn’t) Professor of Hops And Drafts.  This program is much more intense.  It’s a year long program, broken down into semesters (aka Seasons).  Each season there’s a new beer list-13 to 15 beers to try before the next season comes along.  At the end you get another t-shirt, another plaque, a bigger gift certificate, and you can drink out of an even bigger mug. 

Definitely the highlights of my drinking at the ‘Leaf came here.  Schlafly AIPA was discovered because of this program.  McNeill’s Dark Angel stout.  As we went through the program, my friend and I checked off our favorite–and, unfortunately, least favorite beers–of the season.  I finished my program last winter.  You can do it again, as the beers are always changing.  Each time you go through the program, the rewards amp up.

And the Cloverleaf is a place to get more than just beer.  They have great burgers (and have introduced me to the wonder A-1 sauce on a burger), a fantastic Sunday brunch, and some very cool promotions.  If you’re just getting into craft beer, this is the place to go.  A great place to learn about beer, and to discover your favorite styles.

Cocktail Hour

Summer is waning.  It’s mid-August, and September is rumbling toward us.  School starts again.  Soon the weather will get cold and the fun will be over.  And a different kind of fun begins (stout season… oh yeah.)

Meanwhile, my wife and I haven’t had much of a summer.  For most of July and some of August we were waiting for our first child to be born.  We weren’t able to go on vacation.  We didn’t hang out by a pool.  We went to a few BBQs, but mostly we just waited.

Last week, our son showed up. 

So, there’s still some summer left for us.  We’re enjoying our baby, enjoying the warm weather, and just enjoying being a family.  That said, there’s still no vacation on the horizon.  We’re kind of house bound.  So, we’re making due with what we can.  And, that means taking part in one of my favorite parts of vacation…. the cocktail hour.  (Kind of like Happy Hour, but… every day–and without the drink specials.)

Every day at 4:30, I declare it Cocktail Hour.  We break out the chips, the wife has a soda (for now) and I have a beer.  My beers have been of the summer variety.  Full Sail IPA has been a popular choice.  Narragansett Summer (see? it’s still SUMMER gosh darn it), is one of the best summer beers out there.  Today I also picked up a 4 Seasons IPA by Voodoo Brewery, which I intend on sampling.

Gotta do something otherwise you go stir crazy.

Now, I know this is a beer blog, but what are you favorite cocktail hour drinks?

Today Is IPA Day!

Today, August 2nd, is a day to celebrate IPAs.  So go out, drink an IPA and enjoy yourself!

Here are some of my favorite IPAs and Double IPAs.

Kane Head High:  From the New Jersey brewery, and one I’ve reviewed before, Kane never fails with this beer.  It is always drinkable, and any time I see it on tap, I order it.  The beer is smooth and full of citus goodness.  The hops don’t overwhelm and lead to an almost sweetness.  Probably my favorite beer, right now.

Carton Brewing 077XX:  A Double IPA (in my eyes), and just as good as the Kane beer.  Smooth and boozy, this is a beer to get a buzz on.  The other great New Jersey beer.  The same hoppy deliciousness as the Kane, and addicting as well.  I’m dying to get back to Carton and grab a growler of this.  It’s been too long.

Troegs Perpetual IPA:  Recently had a six pack of this, and when it’s cold and fresh, it is just plain good.  This only style of beer this quality brewery has been missing had been a really solid IPA.  Perpetual goes above and beyond that.  A great example of what an IPA should taste like, especially once you get your taste buds adjusted to the IPA flavor–if you’re an IPA newbie.

Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale:  Unavailable in New Jersey, but worth hunting down (PA is your best bet).  Fresh and good, it’s like biting into an orange.  The hops are mild, but the flavor is sharp and decadent.  One of the best IPAs out there.  Find this.

There are many other quality IPAs and DIPAs out there that I haven’t coved.  Pliny the Elder by Russian River is impossible to track down, but well worth it when you find it.  Pliny the Younger even more so.  I’m a huge fan of Terrapin beers and their So Fresh & So Green, Green is fantastic.  That was one of my gateway IPAs.

But, today is August 2nd, so you need to drink an IPA.  Tell me which ones in the comments below.

The Gaslight Anthem: Handwritten

Technically, this isn’t a beer nor is it a book.  It’s an album by one of the best new rock bands in the world. 

The Gaslight Anthem have been around for, if I had to guess, six or seven years.  Born as a punk band in New Brunswick, NJ, Gaslight-led by lead singer Brian Fallon–took punk and melded it with Springsteen and a touch of 50s rock.  The songs were blue collar, dirty songs about life, love and death.  They hit it big with their album THE 59 SOUND, and have been steadily rising in popularity since.

Their newest, the aforementioned HANDWRITTEN, is a bit of a departure for them.  Gone are the simple punk strains, and here is straightforward classic rock.  From the opening strains of “45,” you can tell this album is different.  Screetching guitar solos and soaring choruses separate this album from Gaslight’s others.  It truly is a step forward for them.

At the same time, the heart is still there.  The blue collar Springsteen-esque lyrics still live, and that’s why this album fits right in on this blog.  Two reasons:

a) Just like a book, each song tells a story and drags you through an emotional spectrum.  These songs, like the best books, are filled with heart and emotion.

b) It’s the kind of album you listen to in a down and dirty bar.  Where you walk in and ask for the beer from the cleanest tap that have. 

You can sit back with a beer and just enjoy this album.  It sounds like each character is opening up to a bartender.

Pick up a six-pack and then pick up this album.  It’s worth it.

New England Ghandi Bot Double IPA

I’m celebrating tonight.  Well, sort of.  Yesterday I had two wisdom teeth pulled.  I wasn’t knocked out, I was numbed and it wasn’t pleasant (that said, it wasn’t the worst thing in the history of mankind either.)  And since I already feel better (just a bit of jaw pain), I’m celebrating with a beer.

The beer I chose was another one from the beer trade.  New England Brewing Company’s Ghandi Bot.  It’s a double IPA.  And there’s a picture of a ROBOT GHANDI on the can.  Let’s face it, with that kind of can, there’s no way I’m giving this beer a bad review.  It could taste like feet and raw eggs, but there’s still a ROBOT GHANDI on the can.

But, thankfully, the beer doesn’t taste like that.  Not does it smell like that.

To me, all hops have either a pine or citrus flavor.  This one has a hop flavor I rarely taste, and that’s of a pure orange.  A bitter orange, and nothing else.  Perhaps my taste buds are off, but this is the flavor I’m getting.  The beer it very smooth, as well.  The bitter is there, but it’s not sweet and syrupy like a lot of IPAs are.

This is a solid double IPA, one that you could drink several of and not blink… until you tried to stand up.

It’s a peaceful beer (on the outside), but very dangerous the more you drink it.

Much like a robot Ghandi would be, I’d think.

Bell’s Hopslam

A rush of bitter pineapple (maybe mango?).  That’s the first taste I got when I sipped this Double IPA.

Bell’s Brewery is one of those legendary breweries in the eyes of New Jersey Craft Beer fans.  Their beers are unavailable here in the great Garden State, and from what I’ve had, they’re good beers.

Including this one:  their winter seasonal IPA.

It’s a double, hefting in at 10 percent.  But, to me, it’s not full of that alcohol burn*.  No, it’s a smooooooootthhhh hoppy beer.  Not as smooth as yesterday’s Heady Topper, but smooth.  And man, do you get slammed with hops (see what I did there?).  This beer is full of them and they’re not shy.

They’re like the kids at your bedroom door on Christmas morning.

They’re a college basketball crowd.

These are HOPS.  They explode in your mouth with glorious, excitable joy.  Every part of this sip is hops.  I can’t find the malts?  Can you find the malts?


This is for the pure hophead.  It’s hop goodness.

It’s hop joy.

And it’s damn good.


*According the person who acquired the beer for me, it’s been aged about six months, so the alcohol burn may have simmered a bit from the original brew….

The Alchemist Heady-Topper

Heady-Topper is a beer out of Vermont.  It’s hard to come by here in New Jersey, so I had to acquire it in a beer trade.  Yes, a beer trade.  More on that later.

But now, I try the beer.  As you can see on the can it says “Drink from the Can.”  They don’t want you pouring this into a glass for some reason.  But I’m never one to completely follow the rules when it comes to beer (well, whatever, just go with it).  So I decided to try an experiment.

Half and half.

First, sip from the can.  There’s not much of an odor when you try it from the can (okay, stop giggling).  You catch some hops, but that’s about it.  I expected to be overwhelmed with syrupy bitterness. Not so.  The first sip was incredibly smooth.  And easy to drink.  Almost like biting into a carrot.  There’s that first flush of hops sweetness with immediately shifted to a dry clean flavor.  Surprising for a Double IPA.  The more out of the can I drank, the better it became.  The hops floated to the surface and left a nice, nice bitterness in my mouth.

Next, poured into a glass.  As you can see from the photo, this beer is really light colored.  Almost orangey (says the color-blind man).  I can see some of the hop resin as I look, and the smell is just as muted.  The hops, though, on the first sip, are stronger.  I can see why they push this to be drank from the can.  They want to brew a smooth beer, but it’s much more bitter-er (LOLerskates) from a glass.  I love it, and I can sense more of the booziness when I drink it this way.

Either way, I want to chug this and at the same time I want to savor it.  I may never have it again.

This beer really stands up to the description.


Lagunitas Maximus

It’s Double IPA week, bitches!  And with Lagunitas calling this beer Maximus, I must ask you: ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

This is a BIG beer at 8.2%.  You’re inviting a headache and slow start to the morning, if you’re going to drink more than 1 of these in a night.  It looks so sweet in the pic, doesn’t it?  Light, polite, will promise to have you home before 11?

Don’t trust him.

It has the scent of pure, unadulterated hops.  Like a convertable or a Porsche pulling up in front of the house and asking to take your tongue out to dinner.  And only dinner.

And then you don’t talk to that tongue again until Tuesday.  Because once it has that first sip… BAM!  It’s in Maximus’s court.  And it ain’t letting go. (Okay, it’s time to steer away from this metaphor… especially since my Mom bought me this beer, and she wanted it reviewed.)

This.  Is.  Hoppy.  Good, syrupy, citrusy hops.

I don’t think this is a bitter beer.  It doesn’t make me make a face and it doesn’t make me drink slowly.  I want to chug this beer.  I just know better.  It’s glorious.  I could bathe in this beer (STOP IT DAVE, YOUR MOM IS READING THIS).

Lagunitas is a never go wrong brewery.  This is a NEVER GO WRONG beer.  Sweet, solid, hoppy.  Right up my alley.

It makes me want to take a trip out to the West Coast…


Buy this beer.  It’s great.

Great Divide 18th Anniversary

Okay, so this thing is a beast… JUST LOOK AT THAT LABEL.

Here’s what the label says it is:  It’s a Pale Ale Aged on Oak Chips.  Then it says it’s a Wood Aged Double IPA.  Those are two different kinds of beers.  That’s huge.  I haven’t even tasted it yet, and it’s intimidating.  Usually I like to know what I’m getting into when I try a beer.  But right now… no clue.


But hey, I guess when you’re a brewery celebrating your 18th anniversary, you throw it all against the wall and see what sticks.

Let’s take a sniff, shall we?

It smells like an IPA.  Sweet and piney, with that hint of citrus.  (Okay, now I’m reading the label.  It’s based on their Denver Pale Ale–great beer, pick it up–but this is different.  Smells different, looks different.).  It’s a dark, caramel color.  It’s heavy looking.  Oooh, this is going to be fun.

Take a sip.  It’s bitter.  Citrus bitter.  Like a blood red orange.  Covered in caramel.  OHHHHHHHHHH yes.  Once you get past the hops, the sweetness is there.  I think I catch some of the woody flavor too, which must be from the oak chips (duh, Dave).

There’s a reason this comes in a 22 and not a six pack.  You can’t drink more than one of these. You sit and sip and drink this over the course of an hour plus.  You let it build in your mouth, destroying your tastebuds one by one.  It is sooooo good.

I can see what Great Divide wants to celebrate their anniversary with this.  It takes the thing they do on the hop side and ups the ante.  It’s not a Stone beer, where they just try to overhop you.  It’s a complex beer.  Each sip adds a new flavor, a new sensation.

Good luck with this one.  You’re gonna need it.