A few weeks ago, I was running one of the checkstands at Trader Joes when a guy came through the line with some Stone Pale Ale. We got to talking about how great Stone's other beers were and he told me I should look for their recently released 14th Anniversary. I had no idea that it had been released, so a few days later, I went and found it at BevMo.
This marks my first ever Stone Anniversary beer (besides their Sublimely Self Righteous Ale which was originally released as one of their anniversary beers). If the rest are anything like this one, I'm a little disappointed that I've missed them all so far.
Stone took care when they were brewing this beer to keep it as British as possible. The water they used was Burtonised (which means that it was altered to become chemically identical to the water used in Burton-on-Trent) and they used "the most pungent" hops from Kent. The result is something that is undeniably British, but also undeniably Stone-tasting.
The beer pours a slightly hazy golden color with a flawless off-white foam head. The hops are right there in the nose, but there is something sweet behind them that I literally spent 10 minutes trying to pinpoint. I think it was mango, but I'm still not sure. I don't know why this frustrated me so much, but I was wracking my brain trying to recall what the smell could possibly be. I'm still not exactly sure, but mango seems to be as close as I'm gonna get.
The taste of the beer is really something. The hops come out first but they taste different than any hops I'm used to. The flavor is somewhat earthier and a little bit oilier than most hops here. The beer isn't over-hopped so the hops aren't there to blow you away with their bitterness, but rather to lead you into the other flavors of the beer. After the hop flavor comes a surprising slightly buttery and peppery flavor that fades into a gentle finish. For an IPA (or EPA as Stone calls it), this beer was really drinkable. I am officially never missing another anniversary beer from Stone again.
Final Grade: A