The days when you couldn't get a good West Coast IPA on the East Coast are long gone. The best brewers out west send their beer here, and we're all luckier for it. More recently, East Coast brewers have been brewing IPAs as good or better than many of the original West Coast style IPAs, making the "West Coast" moniker less and less of a barrier. A good IPA is a good IPA, no matter where it's brewed.
But that doesn't mean West Coast IPAs are irrelevant. They're a benchmark of a style of beer that is arguably more popular than any other among serious beer drinkers. In 16 years of operation, Stone Brewing Company has done a lot to define the West Coast IPA. You could say they've perfected it, but that would be slighting the folks from Sierra Nevada, Russian River, Lagunitas, and others. There's no arguing with the fact that Stone makes some of the best IPAs in the world.
Every year, Stone brews a beer to celebrate their anniversary. Considering their approach to beer ("You are not worthy"), these anniversary ales are usually intense. So it isn't surprising that, like most Stone IPAs, this one is aggressive.
The beer pours a dark amber with a thick, off-white head. You know just by looking at it that this is not going to be a light beer. It smells like tropical fruit and wet grass thanks to the addition of Calypso and Amarillo in the dry hop.
The flavor is less about the citrusy hops and more about the bitter ones. Magnum, Delta and Target hops take over, producing a brew that packs 85 IBUs. There's a lot of malt here, too, for balance, but you can guess that the combination of all these ingredients doesn't add up to something delicate. The beer is also spiked with "a touch of lemon verbena and lemon oil", adding to the complex flavor profile. This is a serious beer -- Stone chose it for its anniversary, after all -- and it's one to be savored (10 percent ABV). Pair it with barbecued chicken, grilled cheese, a nice burger, or some pork tacos.