As I’ve mentioned on other posts, this brew is a reincarnation of Stone’s 11th anniversary Ale.  From what I understand, people clamored until Stone starting making this beer on a regular basis (I guess the squeaky wheel does get the grease after all; the black grease beer, that is).  Other sites defer by calling this an American Strong Ale, which seems to be a catch-pan category for the “what the hell should we call this?” sentiment.  Maybe I’m a simpleton, but I’d call it a stout.  Of course, Stone calls the 11th anniversary a black IPA, so it would stand to reason that they would designate this beer with the same nomenclature.

The Pour: As I hinted, this beer is fairly dark in complexion.  Maybe it’s not quite grease, but it was black/very dark brown in it color.  The head was a very stable, off-white cloud.  The body, being semi-active, helped to prop it up for the duration of drinking.  Additionally, some decent lacing appeared as I sipped the brew.

The Nose: It’s almost a foregone conclusion that citrusy, piney hop aspects will make it into most of Stone’s products.  I’m not saying this negatively, but it is a predictable aspect of their brewing.  Again, hops took the front row for the beer show on this one, but nice roasty malts, along with citrusy orange tones and wiffs of chocolate/coffee, were part of the profile.

The Taste: The hops were, once again, very up front, floral, and pefumey in this ale.  Maybe it’s starting to grow on me, but I enjoyed this part of the beer.  It wasn’t quite as bitter (although, make no mistake, it is bitter) as I thought it might be.  The mouth-feel was medium and the hints of alcohol kept it on the thinner medium side.  I find that this is often true when hops and ABV are at a higher level.  At any rate, chocolate tones, coffee dryness, citrus and  a touch of toasted caramel malts all contributed to the brew’s profile.

Overall, I think this is a solid beer that could use a touch more sweetness and mouth-feel to balance it out.  My personal opinion is that the attenuation level plus the hops made for a slightly astringent and thinned brew.  However, I would drink this brew again and did enjoy it; I would just enjoy it more if they tweaked a few things.

Mike’s Rating

Overall Satisfaction: ★★★¾☆ 

Among other Self-Righteously Named Brews: ★★★½☆ 

Other Reviews of this beer:  The Full Pint, The Local Brewery, and The Barley Blog.