It was only a matter of time before Stone Brewing took the concept of freshness dating beer and punched it in the face before dropping it on it’s head. It also shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to find out that the beer they produced to show off their ingenuity was in high demand and very hard to track down.
I am, of course, referring to Stone’s Enjoy By 9.21.12 IPA.
This is a double IPA clocking in at 9.4%ABV. It’s available in draft and 22oz bottles in three regions of the country, Southern California, Chicago and New Jersey. It’s a bold new approach to freshness and I, for one, certainly appreciate the desire to create a beer that is meant to enjoyed at it’s optimum flavor quotient. A beer meant to be savored not saved, I love the whole thought process on this beer.
I spent the early part of last week in a scramble to track down a few bottles of this new beer. Lots of stores sold out quickly and a few never even got theirs. I lucked out that the BevMo closest to my home still had several bottles and were able to sell me two. I considered this quite the victory as many other locations were limiting customers to one bottle. Even with two bottles already secured I did allow myself to fall victim to the mania and soon found myself calling BevMo’s and bottle shops around the area in search of a few more. After all was said and done, I ended up with a total of five bottles. A good friend of mine took advantage of the fact he lives down the street from Stone Brewing to buy eight bottles and get a growler fill. Bastard.
The most difficult part of buying these bottles on a Tuesday, was waiting to open one up on Friday. Why wait till Friday? With beer like this I didn’t want to drink alone. So I waited for my buddy to find a bottle for himself and we’d kickoff the weekend in style.
Cracking the cap off this 22oz bottle, you’d have to have the worlds worst sinus infection to not notice the tasty, hoppy aroma that instantly floats out of that bottle. Seriously, even before it touches your lips, that aroma lets you know this a insanely fresh beer.
We poured into chilled pint glasses and eagerly took our first sips. Sweet Christmas! This beer is delicious! Aggressively hopped is a bit of an understatement but the use of bitter hops is very minimal. You get some pinyness but not too much, you won’t think you’re sucking on a pine cone. That’s accompanied very nicely by some citrus and grapefruit flavors. Good malt character help to hold everything together. Marvelously well balanced, this is a double IPA that is almost too easy to drink. Which leads to my next part of my weekend with the Enjoy by IPA.
So after spending Friday night with the bottle I decided that Saturday would be a great time to try and find it on draft. Easier said then done. The bars we went to on Saturday night were all out. Disappointment abounds. Now Sunday rolls around and another good friends reaches out and lets me know he has found ‘Enjoy by’ on draft at Live Wire Bar on El Cajon Blvd. in North Park. We make our plan to meet for a quick beer, I’d like to put a special emphasis on ‘a quick beer’, and we descend on the bar where we are treated to some shenanigans out front of the bar by some of the more…colorful personalities in the neighborhood. Once we scoot past that scene, we grab our beers and sit in the nearby booth.
Just as with the bottle, The aroma rolls off the top of the pint glass and makes everything in the vicinity smell a billion times better, including my friend who had just run six miles. What strikes me the most as I take my first swallow is how similar the beer from the bottle is to the beer from a keg. The freshness is the real key to this beer. To me, that is really what makes this ‘Enjoy By’ program so fascinating. This is the next best thing to actually being on hand at the brewery as its crafted. I’m curious to see how the Enjoy By initiative grows and develops from the excellent first entry. They are certainly off to great start, so I tip my cap to Stone Brewing once again with this beer. Suffice to say, my friends and I, we enjoyed the hell out of this beer and that ‘one quick beer’ became five. Maybe six…I sort of lost count.
Go out and do the same!
Oh, I’ve been told that Toronado on the 30th St in North Park has not yet tapped their keg of the ‘Enjoy By’ yet…so I’d be on the lookout for something happening there around September 21st.