So with their 16th Anniversary beer you'd assume they'd go big, and on paper they did, producing a big American Double IPA at 10% abv and 85 IBU, but this Stone also has a lightness of touch that is rarely strived for and even less often achieved by a beer of this heft. There's just loads going on and not all of it is whacking you over the head as many Stone beers do, you actually have to look for it this time.
The aroma is big sweet hard candy barley wine, candy sugar and citrusy lemon balm (I later found out there is Lemon verbena in the brew).
The flavour is much cleaner and zestier than I expected. It's sweet, smooth and resinous with a fully bitter yet not punishing finish. Lots of pine resin, bitter orange, grapefruit jam, a touch of floral lychee and a peppery bitterness in the aftertaste.
I was expecting a sucker punch, as is the Stone mould, but this is much sneaker than that. You could easily drink a few halfs. I imagine as it warms that abv will make itself ever more known, but I can't leave the glass alone long enough to give it a chance and my half is gone in a matter of minutes. It also has to be said that serving this cold on keg is the only way to go, it'd be marmalade on cask and the bottles just don't seem to get over to us fast enough to be fresh.
A stunningly balanced beer, from Stone!?